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massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI
… 10 million times slower than the computer
… variability of a few percent due to biological noise, or a precision of 1 in 100 at best , which is millionsfold worse than a computer
… Computer tasks are performed largely in serial steps.
… The brain also uses serial steps
… the brain also employs massively parallel processing, taking advantage of the large number of neurons and large number of connections each neuron makes.
… parallel strategy is possible because each neuron collects inputs from and sends output to many other neurons—on the order of 1,000
… deep learning
… Still, the brain has superior flexibility, generalizability, and learning capability /18-04-18
The Trumpian Side of Pope Francis
… a disruptive figure who is determined to bring change fast and damn the consequences. /18-04-18
Are religious people more moral?
… widespread and extreme moral prejudice against atheists around the world
… Americans are less trusting of atheists than of any other social group
… there are no open atheists in the U.S. Congress
… morality cannot exist without religion
… Mormons considered polygamy a moral imperative, while Catholics
… several Anglican churches have revised their moral views to allow contraception, the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex unions
… Discrepancy between beliefs and behavior
… religiosity is only loosely related to theology
… Buddhism, for example, may officially be a religion without gods, but most Buddhists still treat Buddha as a deity. Similarly, the Catholic Church vehemently opposes birth control, but the vast majority of Catholics practice it anyway .. theological incorrectness
… communism is an egalitarian ideology, but communists do not behave any less selfishly
… religious individuals claim to be more altruistic, compassionate, honest .. these differences are nowhere to be found
… No matter how we define morality, religious people do not behave more morally than atheists
… Studies conducted among American Christians, for example, have found that participants donated more money to charity and even watched less porn on Sundays. However, they compensated on both accounts during the rest of the week.
… innate moral predispositions .. religion is a reflection rather than the cause of these predispositions
… Ancient Greek gods were not interested in people’s ethical conduct
… belief in morally invested gods developed as a solution to the problem of large-scale cooperation
… Early societies were small enough that their members could rely on people’s reputations to decide whom to associate with. But
… all-knowing, all-powerful gods who punish .. the fear of God was crucial for establishing and maintaining social order.
… atheists commit fewer crimes than average /18-04-18
The field is called mirror symmetry
… distant mathematical universes appear somehow to reflect each other exactly
… minuscule vibrating strings .. in 10 dimensions
… torus fibers .. of any number of dimensions
… We have huge numbers of examples, like 400 million examples. It’s not that there’s a lack of examples, but nevertheless it’s still specific cases that don’t give much of a hint as to why the whole story works
… The proof has now been completely written down, but it’s a mess /18-04-16
small galaxy that seems to contain none of .. dark matter
… 65 million light-years away
… Canon camera lenses
… a new idea called emergent gravity propose that there is no dark matter
… much more dark matter relative to visible matter than astronomers expect
… when two galaxies merge, streams of gas can collide, while the dark matter is thought to pass through without interacting /18-03-31
obsession with quantifying human performance threatens our schools, medical care, businesses, and government
… the damage our obsession with metrics is causing
… teaching to the test
… what can and does get measured is not always worth measuring
… metrics can be good when used as a complement to-rather than a replacement for-judgment based on personal experience /18-03-23
Sexual Encounters With Other Ancient Humans
… with .. Denisovans in two separate waves
… they diverged from their close relatives, the Neanderthals, around 400,000 years ago, and that both groups diverged from Homo sapiens around 600,000 years ago
… Denisovan DNA lives on in people from Asia and Melanesia .. modern Tibetans with a crucial adaptation that allows them to survive at high altitudes /18-03-22
Sean Carroll: Stephen Hawking died
… Hawking contributed more to our understanding of gravity than any physicist since Albert Einstein.
… black holes are not completely black
… space must have come into existence at a singularity: the Big Bang
… the area of the event horizon of a black hole is very analogous to the entropy
… black holes do have entropy
… when matter falls into a black hole, and then the black hole radiates away, where does the information go?
… If you take an encyclopedia and toss it into a fire, you might think the information contained inside is lost forever. But according to the laws of quantum mechanics, it isn’t really lost at all; if you were able to capture every bit of light and ash that emerged from the fire, in principle you could exactly reconstruct everything that went into it, even the print on the book pages.
… If there is one place where quantum mechanics and gravity both play a central role, it’s at the origin of the universe itself.
… ambitious project of understanding where our universe came from.
… 1983 .. “Wave Function of the Universe”
… the distribution of stars and galaxies we observe today .. be able to predict these variations
… science might be able to provide a complete and self-contained description of reality — a prospect that stretches beyond science, into the realms of philosophy and theology.
… Pope John Paul II allegedly told the assembled scientists not to inquire into the origin of the universe, “because that was the moment of creation and therefore the work of God.” Admonitions of this sort didn’t slow Hawking down; he lived his life in a tireless pursuit of the most fundamental questions science could tackle. /18-03-21
… is an virtual assistant developed by Amazon
… It is capable of voice interaction
… extend the Alexa capabilities by installing "skills"
… only available in English, German and Japanese /18-03-21
… their cephalopod brethren evolve differently from nearly every other organism on the planet
… routinely edit their RNA .. to adapt to their environment
… When an organism changes in some fundamental way, it typically starts with a genetic mutation - a change to the DNA.
… fine-tune its genetic information without actually undergoing any genetic mutations
… Mother Nature gave RNA editing a try, found it wanting, and largely abandoned it
… coleoid cephalopods are exceptionally intelligent
… octopus smarts might come from their unconventionally high reliance on RNA edits to keep the brain going
… evolutionary tradeoff, which sets them apart from the rest of the animal world
… coleoids have been evolving really, really slowly .. this has been a necessary sacrifice /18-03-21
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