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Jon Lawhead has been at 8 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Daniel Estrada30,757@103315650425474752023 and I will be debating the controversial FLI petition to ban autonomous weapons. I've signed and will be defending the ban; Jon is skeptical and will be defending the side of evil. We haven't talked about this yet and thought it would be fun to think it through together on the air. Everyone is welcome to hop on the stream and join in. More on the petition here:  http://futureoflife.org/AI/open_letter_autonomous_weapons#signatories http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/30/opposition-autonomous-warfare-artificial-intelliegence https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DanielEstrada/posts/92w6cf3TU6iAutonomous Weapons: The Debate2015-08-06 03:00:009  
Science on Google+822,478Please join us on 5/5 for a @105917944266111687812 HOA with Dr.@101190098041697372043, Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, Psychology, and Neuroscience at @116716695368502903076, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. Dr. Nicolelis is a pioneer in neuronal population coding (simultaneously recording from hundreds to thousands of neurons), Brain Machine Interface (controlling robotic or avatar limbs with thoughts), neuroprosthetics (prosthetic limbs that directly communicate with sensory and motor cortices), and Brain to Brain Interface (tactile or visual information encoded by rat 1 is decoded by rat 2). Dr. Nicolelis has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, with many of these publications appearing in high impact journals such as _Nature_, _Science_, and _Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences_ (see below for a short list of publications). More recently, Dr. Nicolelis’ research made it possible for a quadriplegic child to use his mind to control a bionic exoskeleton and kickoff the opening game at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. RSVP “yes” to add this event to your calendar. We will open up the Q & A app so feel free to post your questions on this event post or by using the app during the hangout. *Relevant Links:* Faculty page: http://goo.gl/qs8NfM  Lab page: http://www.nicolelislab.net  2012 Ted Talk: http://goo.gl/kxCxT8  2014 Ted Talk: http://goo.gl/23OqmV  Book: http://goo.gl/x7Kg5J  *Relevant Readings (see http://goo.gl/nQadag for a more exhaustive list):* Schwarz D, Lebedev MA, Tate A, Hanson T, Lehew G, Melloy J, Dimitrov D, Nicolelis MAL. Chronic, Wireless Recordings of Large Scale Brain Activity in Freely Moving Rhesus Monkeys. Nat. Methods doi:10.1038/nmeth.2936, 2014. Thomson EE, Carra R, Nicolelis MAL. Perceiving Invisible Light through a Somatosensory Cortical Prosthesis. Nat. Commun.10.1038/ncomms2497, 2013. Ifft P, Shokur S, Li Z, Lebedev MA, Nicolelis MAL. A Brain-Machine Interface Enables Bimanual Arm Movements in Monkeys. Sci. Transl. Med. 5: 210, DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3006159, 2013. Shokur S, O’Doherty J.E., Winans J.A., Bleuler H., Lebedev M.A., Nicolelis M.A.L. Expanding the primate body schema in sensorimotor cortex by virtual touches of an avatar. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 15121-6, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1308459110, 2013. O’Doherty JE, Lebedev MA, Ifft PJ, Zhuang KZ, Shokur S, Bleuler H, Nicolelis MAL. Active tactile exploration enabled by a brain-machine-brain interface. Nature 479: 228-231, 2011. Fuentes R, Petersson P, Siesser WB, Caron MG, Nicolelis MAL. Spinal Cord Stimulation Restores Locomotion in Animal Models of Parkinson’s disease. Science 323: 1578-82, 2009. Pereira A, Ribeiro S, Wiest M, Moore LC, Pantoja J, Lin S-C, Nicolelis MAL. Processing of tactile information by the  hippocampus. PNAS 104: 18286-18291 (Epub) November 2007. Krupa DJ, Wiest, MC, Laubach M, Nicolelis MAL Layer specific somatosensory cortical activation during active tactile discrimination   ScieScience HOAs2015-05-05 21:30:00139  
Daniel Estrada30,757// Continuing a long conversation after a brief intermission! See more here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cjhsk41gv6ggn3sbdubq2klmrc0 > This week an announcement rippled through the internet: a computer passed Turing's test. Soon after the backlash began: the test was rigged, the resulted were hyped, and Eugene, the machine in question, was lame.  Now the backlash is giving way to even stronger criticisms. +Massimo Pigliucci recently argued (http://goo.gl/VdilBI) that not only was this test illegitimate, but Turing's test itself should be abandoned. But Massimo's argument is deeply mistaken about the nature of Turing's test, what it seeks to prove, and why it matters for science.  I've been writing all week about this event: http://goo.gl/J26xbs, http://goo.gl/5RKIm7, http://goo.gl/c07lLG, http://goo.gl/T98ubJ, http://goo.gl/8cMKSI But now that the backlash against the event is directed at Turing's views themselves, I feel something more than an essay is required to address these concerns. To be convincing, this requires a human face and a human voice to speak out in defense of Turing's proposal. I'm fully aware of the irony of this situation.  So come hangout with me and +Jon Lawhead this Friday at 10pm EST while I defend Turing's proposal in light of the criticisms that have accrued over the last week. I'll be providing a defense of Turing's position informed by recent experimental work in psychology. I hope to convince even the skeptics like Massimo that Turing's test deserves a central place in our discussion of artificial intelligence in the modern world. Why the Turing Test Matters II2014-06-14 05:44:028  
Daniel Estrada30,757This week an announcement rippled through the internet: a computer passed Turing's test. Soon after the backlash began: the test was rigged, the resulted were hyped, and Eugene, the machine in question, was lame.  Now the backlash is giving way to even stronger criticisms. @111907992359490335188 recently argued (http://goo.gl/VdilBI) that not only was this test illegitimate, but Turing's test itself should be abandoned. But Massimo's argument is deeply mistaken about the nature of Turing's test, what it seeks to prove, and why it matters for science.  I've been writing all week about this event: http://goo.gl/J26xbs, http://goo.gl/5RKIm7, http://goo.gl/c07lLG, http://goo.gl/T98ubJ, http://goo.gl/8cMKSI But now that the backlash against the event is directed at Turing's views themselves, I feel something more than an essay is required to address these concerns. To be convincing, this requires a human face and a human voice to speak out in defense of Turing's proposal. I'm fully aware of the irony of this situation.  So come hangout with me and @103315650425474752023 this Friday at 10pm EST while I defend Turing's proposal in light of the criticisms that have accrued over the last week. I'll be providing a defense of Turing's position informed by recent experimental work in psychology. I hope to convince even the skeptics like Massimo that Turing's test deserves a central place in our discussion of artificial intelligence in the modern world. Why the Turing Test matters2014-06-14 04:00:009  
Daniel Estrada30,757Seriously, what the hell is Strangecoin?  Join me and @103315650425474752023  this Thursday night at 9pm EST. We'll talk about Strangecoin and the reaction it's getting online, and we'll field questions and comments from the Internet about whatever it is we think we're doing.  The original Strangecoin proposal: http://digitalinterface.blogspot.com/2014/03/strangecoin-proposal-for-nonlinear.html HackerNews thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7494709 SomethingAwful thread: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3620968 #strangecoin  Strangecoin: The Hangout2014-04-04 03:00:007  
Daniel Estrada30,757Made of Robots Your weekly HoA in the philosophy of technology  Week 5 readings: Andy Clark & David Chalmers (1998) "The Extended Mind"  http://consc.net/papers/extended.html Clark (2010) "Memento's Revenge: The Extended Mind, extended" http://goo.gl/W2GNtQ Every Tuesday at 7pm EST I'll host an HOA on the philosophy of technology.  We'll select short readings made available in advance and begin with an overview of the highlights. Then we'll have a general discussion for an hour, open to anyone who wants to join in, all of which will be archived on YouTube. Beyond doing some good philosophy, Made of Robots hopes to bring together a community of people interested in raising the level of popular discourse on technology.Made of Robots #52014-03-12 00:00:006  
Daniel Estrada30,757Made of Robots Your weekly HoA in the philosophy of technology  Week 4 reading: Andy Clark (2003) _Natural Born Cyborgs_ Ch 3: *Plastic Brains, Hybrid Minds* http://goo.gl/yriTC Every Tuesday at 7pm EST I'm hosting an HOA on the philosophy of technology.  We'll select short readings made available in advance and begin with an overview of the highlights. Then we'll have a general discussion for an hour, open to anyone who wants to join in, all of which will be archived on YouTube. Beyond doing some good philosophy, Made of Robots hopes to bring together a community of people interested in raising the level of popular discourse on technology.Made of Robots #42014-03-05 01:00:007  
Daniel Estrada30,757*Made of Robots* A new weekly HoA in the philosophy of technology  This Tuesday at 6pm EST, I'll lead the first of a weekly series of Hangouts devoted to the philosophy of technology. The topic covers a range of issues in the history of ideas and at the cutting edge of science. Despite its importance, technology can be frightening and bewildering (http://goo.gl/NmwDpm), and we sometimes struggle to know what to make of the world we've made for ourselves.  Made of Robots will be a public reading and disscussion group meeting weekly as an HoA designed to address these issues. We'll select short readings made available in advance and begin with a quick recap of the highlights. Then we'll have a general discussion for an hour, open to anyone who wants to join in, all of which will be archived on YouTube. Beyond doing some good philosophy, I hope Made of Robots will bring together a community of people interested in raising the level of popular discourse on technology and helping others think clearly about it. We'll start this Tuesday (6-8pm EST) with a short, 4 page contemporary classic:  Stephen Kline (1980) What is technology? http://goo.gl/lKOKP Future readings will come from my "short essential reading list" (http://goo.gl/OXqhvP), from these anthologies (http://goo.gl/kxbf41, http://goo.gl/K52alc), and from other sources I have available. I'll announce the next reading on the air. I'm happy to lead the first few (dozen) sessions, but I'd be delighted if others were interested in leading future sessions with readings of their own selection.  If you're interested in participating or have suggestions on the format or for future readings, please let me know!Made of Robots #12014-02-11 23:55:384  

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Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 4

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2016-01-27 04:22:48 (4 comments; 5 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

I guess I'm out of a job now, but I'm glad that's finally settled at least. 

Most reshares: 22

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2015-11-16 21:58:22 (2 comments; 22 reshares; 32 +1s)Open 

Most plusones: 32

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2015-11-16 21:58:22 (2 comments; 22 reshares; 32 +1s)Open 

Latest 50 posts

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2016-02-03 04:03:55 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

"Yet apocalyptic fictions of the current wave feed off precisely this fear: the feeling that we are part of something over which we have no control, of which we have no real choice but to keep being part. The bigger it grows, the more we rely on it, the deeper the anxiety becomes. It is the curse of being a self-aware piece of a larger puzzle, of an emergent consciousness in a larger emergent system. It is as hard to fathom as the colony is to the ant.

...

The problems we face will not be fixed at the level of the individual life. We all know this because none of us have changed our own lives anywhere near enough to make a difference. Where would we start? With our commute? With candles? Life is already hard. Solutions will need to be implemented at a higher level of organisation. We fear this. We know it, but we have no idea what those solutions might look like. Hence the... more »

"Yet apocalyptic fictions of the current wave feed off precisely this fear: the feeling that we are part of something over which we have no control, of which we have no real choice but to keep being part. The bigger it grows, the more we rely on it, the deeper the anxiety becomes. It is the curse of being a self-aware piece of a larger puzzle, of an emergent consciousness in a larger emergent system. It is as hard to fathom as the colony is to the ant.

...

The problems we face will not be fixed at the level of the individual life. We all know this because none of us have changed our own lives anywhere near enough to make a difference. Where would we start? With our commute? With candles? Life is already hard. Solutions will need to be implemented at a higher level of organisation. We fear this. We know it, but we have no idea what those solutions might look like. Hence the creeping sense of doom."___

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2016-02-03 03:33:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 13 +1s)Open 

#GoldenRacist

#GoldenRacist___

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2016-02-02 21:00:05 (1 comments; 5 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

Climate Change and the Coldest Day of the Year

Someone asked me a really interesting question today.  Here's what he said:

"I was out jogging in shorts today on what is normally the coldest day of the year, and I was wondering, ignoring stochastic weather patterns and my own confirmation bias, whether anthropogenic climate change is expected to move the coldest day of winter farther away from the solstice."

This is an extremely interesting question, and I don't think that there's a consensus answer to it. I've attached an animated gif showing when the statistically coldest day (based on 1981-2010 data) tends to fall across the United States, and as you can see there's a significant amount of variation already, with the date ranging between the first week of December and the last week of March, depending on where you are in the United... more »

Climate Change and the Coldest Day of the Year

Someone asked me a really interesting question today.  Here's what he said:

"I was out jogging in shorts today on what is normally the coldest day of the year, and I was wondering, ignoring stochastic weather patterns and my own confirmation bias, whether anthropogenic climate change is expected to move the coldest day of winter farther away from the solstice."

This is an extremely interesting question, and I don't think that there's a consensus answer to it. I've attached an animated gif showing when the statistically coldest day (based on 1981-2010 data) tends to fall across the United States, and as you can see there's a significant amount of variation already, with the date ranging between the first week of December and the last week of March, depending on where you are in the United States. The reason for this variation is as complex as any other climatological feature, but snow cover likely plays a significant role. In places that tend to get a lot of snow (the midwest, northeast, and Rockies), the lowest temperature tends to come later in the year, as snow (being white) has a relatively high albedo, and so reflects much of the incoming solar radiation back into the atmosphere, reducing the significance of solar radiation on temperature trends. This suggests that, all things being equal, if the average snowfall in a location goes up, then the average date of the coldest day will drift toward spring. The last time I checked, there's not currently a statistically significant trend in snowfall amounts in North America, but it's possible that that's changed since I last looked into it.

Of course, all other things are almost never equal in the climate, and there are lots of other factors that might make a difference here, including changes to the structure of ocean currents (and thus the jet stream) as a result of sea ice melting and oceanic warming, changes to cloud formation and distribution patterns, and lots of other things. In the United States, at least, we know (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/images/indicator_figures/high-low-temps-figure6-2014.png) that climate change is shifting the normal distribution of temperatures pretty significantly upward, and also somewhat flattening the distribution in the direction of warmer temperatures. That is, we're seeing warmer days in general, somewhat more extremely warm days, and somewhat fewer extremely cold days. This could potentially impact the placement of seasonal lows, but it's hard to say exactly how it will do so.

Based on what I know, I'd expect climate change to have an impact on seasonal extremes, but I wouldn't expect that impact to be uniform across the globe (or even across the US). That is, I'd expect the date of warmest and coldest days to change in most places, but I wouldn't expect the shift to be in the same direction across the board. In some places, the coldest day of the year may begin to come earlier, and in other places it may begin to come later in the year, depending on what features dominate the local climate in the winter, and how those features are likely to be impacted by climate change. In general, it's unusual to see climate shifts that are completely uniform at significant spatial scales: precipitation levels are going up in some places but down in others, and even the shift toward higher temperatures is a planetary average, telling us very little about temperature distributions in particular regions. Different parts of the globe have climates that are dominated by many different processes and factors, and those processes themselves are impacted in non-uniform ways by the warming trend. The shape of the climate at any particular location is a result of the interplay between local, global, and mesoscale processes, and in order to effect a uniform change a forcing has to be very strong indeed (e.g. Milankovitch cycles).

I'm going to do a little more digging into GISS and a few other models and see if I can turn up anything more specific here. I'll update the post if I find anything.___

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2016-01-27 04:22:48 (4 comments; 5 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

I guess I'm out of a job now, but I'm glad that's finally settled at least. 

I guess I'm out of a job now, but I'm glad that's finally settled at least. ___

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2016-01-04 21:22:15 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

"It was good enough for Billy Burroughs
And it's good enough for me"

"It was good enough for Billy Burroughs
And it's good enough for me"___

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2015-12-21 07:28:22 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s)Open 

I got a rad new fractal Xmas ornament. 

I got a rad new fractal Xmas ornament. ___

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2015-12-18 05:39:14 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

___

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2015-12-18 05:07:31 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

"The trouble with our attitude to children is that the less like this idea of a person they are the more valuable children's lives are supposed to be. The younger and more inchoate their minds and the shallower their ability to relate to themselves, others, or the world, the more significant their lives are held to be and, for example, the greater the tragedy if one should die.

[...]

The death of an adult person is a tragedy because a sophisticated unique consciousness has been lost; a life in progress, of memories and plans and ideals and relationships with other persons, has been broken off.

[...]

Death affects the child and the adult differently. The younger the child the less real her presence in the world, including to herself, and the more she resembles the generic outline or idea of a child. By contrast an adult has developed much further her... more »

"The trouble with our attitude to children is that the less like this idea of a person they are the more valuable children's lives are supposed to be. The younger and more inchoate their minds and the shallower their ability to relate to themselves, others, or the world, the more significant their lives are held to be and, for example, the greater the tragedy if one should die.

[...]

The death of an adult person is a tragedy because a sophisticated unique consciousness has been lost; a life in progress, of memories and plans and ideals and relationships with other persons, has been broken off.

[...]

Death affects the child and the adult differently. The younger the child the less real her presence in the world, including to herself, and the more she resembles the generic outline or idea of a child. By contrast an adult has developed much further her life's project of constructing and refining a unique identity of her own and therefore she, and the world, has much more to lose by her death.

[...]

On the principle that a good idea realised is better than a good idea merely, we should acknowledge that oak trees are more valuable than acorns. Adults live fuller, deeper, and more real lives than those who have yet to grow up."___

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2015-12-16 16:31:40 (3 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

I walked for almost a mile in the direction the arrow pointed, but I'm still in meatspace

I walked for almost a mile in the direction the arrow pointed, but I'm still in meatspace___

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2015-12-16 03:53:32 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

"Using geotagging data, the organizations are pulling racist social media posts from the Internet, and then pasting them on giant billboards near the homes of those who posted the hateful commentary."

"Using geotagging data, the organizations are pulling racist social media posts from the Internet, and then pasting them on giant billboards near the homes of those who posted the hateful commentary."___

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2015-12-16 03:31:05 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

"America you don't really want to go to war
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen.
And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive.
The Russia's power mad!
She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago.
Her needs a Red Readers'-es Digests-es.
Her wants our auto plants in Siberia.
Him big bureaucracy running our filling stations.
That no good. Ugh.
Him make Indian learn read.
Him need big black niggers.
Ah! Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help!
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories,... more »

"America you don't really want to go to war
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen.
And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive.
The Russia's power mad!
She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago.
Her needs a Red Readers'-es Digests-es.
Her wants our auto plants in Siberia.
Him big bureaucracy running our filling stations.
That no good. Ugh.
Him make Indian learn read.
Him need big black niggers.
Ah! Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help!
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories,
I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel."

#Election2016___

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2015-12-15 01:41:05 (3 comments; 1 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

If this doesn't make you want to live in Montana, I don't know what will. 

If this doesn't make you want to live in Montana, I don't know what will. ___

2015-12-14 21:41:49 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

The ABCs of Atheism

A Facebook friend started this (A, B, and C, which I lightly edited to fit the meter ), and I had fun finishing it. I kind of fucked up the rhyme scheme in the middle because I initially forgot L, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it turned out (especially since it only took me about 20 minutes).

A is for apostate, to leave your religion

B is for blaspheme, to speak things forbidden

C is for catastrophe, when A and B mix.

D is for dogma, which brands you a witch.

E is for ethics, being good without God

F is for faith (or maybe for fraud)

G is for God, your dad in the sky

H is for hell, where you'll surely fry

I is for the kind Inquisitional crew

J is for judging: what they'll be doing to you

K is for knowledge, gained through... more »

The ABCs of Atheism

A Facebook friend started this (A, B, and C, which I lightly edited to fit the meter ), and I had fun finishing it. I kind of fucked up the rhyme scheme in the middle because I initially forgot L, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it turned out (especially since it only took me about 20 minutes).

A is for apostate, to leave your religion

B is for blaspheme, to speak things forbidden

C is for catastrophe, when A and B mix.

D is for dogma, which brands you a witch.

E is for ethics, being good without God

F is for faith (or maybe for fraud)

G is for God, your dad in the sky

H is for hell, where you'll surely fry

I is for the kind Inquisitional crew

J is for judging: what they'll be doing to you

K is for knowledge, gained through God's plan

L is for love (but not man-on-man)

M is for mercy, attached to a string

N is for nothing, from which nothing can spring

O is for obedience, to God and to King

P is for prayer, which can fix all your woes

Q is for queer (god hates all of those)

R is for reverence for the good and the true

S is for sinner, we'll cast stones at you

T is for truth, revealed in light

U is for unbaptized, afraid of what's right

V is for vestments, by the holy they're worn

W is for water, wondrously transformed

X is for Xavier, a saint of a man

Y is for you, for whom God has a plan

Z is for zeitgeist, a new godly age

(Unless you're an atheist, all filled up with rage)___

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2015-12-14 20:26:56 (4 comments; 4 reshares; 13 +1s)Open 

I'm super delighted to say that the British Journal for Philosophy of Science has just emailed me and told me they'll be happy to publish this paper. Look y'all, I'm peer reviewed!

Abstract

Recent work by Frigg et. al. (2014a, 2014b) and Mayo-Wilson (forthcoming) has called attention to a particular sort of error associated with attempts to model certain complex systems: structural modeling error (SME). The assessment of the degree of SME in a model presupposes agreement between modelers about the best way to individuate natural systems, an agreement which can be more problematic than it appears. This problem, which we dub “the system individuation problem” arises in many of the same contexts as SME, and the two often compound one another. This paper explores the common roots of the two problems in concerns about the precision of predictions generated byscien... more »

I'm super delighted to say that the British Journal for Philosophy of Science has just emailed me and told me they'll be happy to publish this paper. Look y'all, I'm peer reviewed!

Abstract

Recent work by Frigg et. al. (2014a, 2014b) and Mayo-Wilson (forthcoming) has called attention to a particular sort of error associated with attempts to model certain complex systems: structural modeling error (SME). The assessment of the degree of SME in a model presupposes agreement between modelers about the best way to individuate natural systems, an agreement which can be more problematic than it appears. This problem, which we dub “the system individuation problem” arises in many of the same contexts as SME, and the two often compound one another. This paper explores the common roots of the two problems in concerns about the precision of predictions generated by scientific models, and discusses how both concerns bear on the study of complex natural systems, particularly the global climate.___

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2015-12-13 06:04:34 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

My Leatherman has a serrated blade that's only edged on one side. For a fun Saturday night project, I decided to see if I could figure out how to turn it into a symmetrically edged blade. It took me about two hours of careful work with four different sharpening stones, but I mostly have it now. Since it was just flat on one side, I had to set a bevel before I could put an edge on it, which took the longest. To really finish up, I'd need a thin ceramic rod sharpener to hone out all the waves, but this is good enough.

I lead an exciting life. 

My Leatherman has a serrated blade that's only edged on one side. For a fun Saturday night project, I decided to see if I could figure out how to turn it into a symmetrically edged blade. It took me about two hours of careful work with four different sharpening stones, but I mostly have it now. Since it was just flat on one side, I had to set a bevel before I could put an edge on it, which took the longest. To really finish up, I'd need a thin ceramic rod sharpener to hone out all the waves, but this is good enough.

I lead an exciting life. ___

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2015-12-13 03:28:08 (0 comments; 6 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

I frequently disagree with Bjorn Lomberg, but this is right on. The 2°C target is practically untenable, and 1.5°C is even more so. We don't need symbolic targets: we need real, concrete, immediate, holistic, practical action. That necessarily means integrating political and economic reasoning into our climate modeling and climate reasoning, and perhaps settling for some sub-optimal measures in the short term (like nuclear fission power) to give us breathing room for long term problem solving.

Moreover, the rate matters at least as much as the final temperature. If we can slow things down such that it takes 150 years to hit a given target rather than decades, things are likely to be much easier. Fragility is the real worry here, and so stability is the important target, not a particular temperature.

Finally, as a Facebook friend of mine pointed out:

"The otherp... more »

I frequently disagree with Bjorn Lomberg, but this is right on. The 2°C target is practically untenable, and 1.5°C is even more so. We don't need symbolic targets: we need real, concrete, immediate, holistic, practical action. That necessarily means integrating political and economic reasoning into our climate modeling and climate reasoning, and perhaps settling for some sub-optimal measures in the short term (like nuclear fission power) to give us breathing room for long term problem solving.

Moreover, the rate matters at least as much as the final temperature. If we can slow things down such that it takes 150 years to hit a given target rather than decades, things are likely to be much easier. Fragility is the real worry here, and so stability is the important target, not a particular temperature.

Finally, as a Facebook friend of mine pointed out:

"The other problem that tends to be ignored is that 1.5 and 2 degree scenarios are not a net loss for everybody. Some regions net benefit or or are neutral at a 2 degree increase or below. This changes the nature of the strategic game in ways that tend to be ignored."

Even that leads to more complicated problems, though. It's hard to talk about a region "benefiting" full-stop from something like this, because no region is an island (well, except islands, but you know what I mean). It's definitely right that some places might become more conducive to agriculture, or wetter on average, or whatever, but even in cases like that there can be problems. Local societies tend to be structured around the climate in which they're built, and a sudden transition from arid to temperate might well be just as problematic for people as the reverse. On top of that, what happens when some region gets great new farmland, and its neighbor loses all its farmland? Human civilization is, all in all, no longer particularly migrant in nature--or particularly inclined toward sharing.

I'm not disagreeing with my friend's point: quite the opposite. This whole situation is dreadfully complex in ways that virtually no one seems to appreciate, and it's very hard to see what to count as a net positive or net negative outcome in any general sense. That's part of why holistic modeling, interdisciplinary assessment, and careful system individuation are all so important. Because human civilization is exerting such a huge forcing on the climate, facts about human social systems (particularly facts about money--economic facts, that is) are going to have to play a role in any good scientific account of the climate's future. The influence that money exerts (and how that influence is wrapped up in driving climate policy) needs to be included in our climate models, to at least some extent.___

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2015-12-11 00:08:11 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

Fuck yeah future

Reality Editor from Fluid Interfaces group student Valentin Heun lets you connect, manipulate, and preset the functionality of physical objects with your phone.___Fuck yeah future

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2015-12-05 00:35:50 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

"To get a sense of the language used on Reddit, we parsed every comment from late 2007 through August 2015 and built the tool above, which enables you to search for a word or phrase to see how its popularity has changed over time."

"To get a sense of the language used on Reddit, we parsed every comment from late 2007 through August 2015 and built the tool above, which enables you to search for a word or phrase to see how its popularity has changed over time."___

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2015-12-05 00:22:12 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

Great collection of (extremely) surrealistic pictures from this year on the playa.

Great collection of (extremely) surrealistic pictures from this year on the playa.___

2015-12-05 00:13:47 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Show of Interest: Geoengineering Discussion via Hangouts-on-Air?

We just finished our discussion of geoengineering at USC's science policy group, and it was fun and stimulating. I found that even people within earth science (and related disciplines) still had a lot of questions and misconceptions about #geoengineering / climate engineering (as well as lots of interesting stuff to say that I hadn't thought about), so I'm glad we did it.

Last week, I mentioned the possibility of perhaps doing a hangout-on-air to talk about this stuff. If +Daniel Estrada and I were to set something like that up, would people be interested in watching/participating? I'm just trying to gauge if there's any significant interest out there. Comment or something if something like that sounds appealing to you.

#hangoutsonair #geoengineering #climateengineering... more »

Show of Interest: Geoengineering Discussion via Hangouts-on-Air?

We just finished our discussion of geoengineering at USC's science policy group, and it was fun and stimulating. I found that even people within earth science (and related disciplines) still had a lot of questions and misconceptions about #geoengineering / climate engineering (as well as lots of interesting stuff to say that I hadn't thought about), so I'm glad we did it.

Last week, I mentioned the possibility of perhaps doing a hangout-on-air to talk about this stuff. If +Daniel Estrada and I were to set something like that up, would people be interested in watching/participating? I'm just trying to gauge if there's any significant interest out there. Comment or something if something like that sounds appealing to you.

#hangoutsonair #geoengineering #climateengineering #climatechange #climatescience #globalwarming___

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2015-12-04 20:08:01 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Great icon, Facebook. 

Great icon, Facebook. ___

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2015-12-04 04:31:42 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

If you try sometimes, you might just find

If you try sometimes, you might just find___

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2015-12-04 01:29:30 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Copying over a comment from +Daniel Estrada's thread on this.

I haven't followed this debate closely, but from what I understand, phi is supposed to just correspond to what the SFI folks called "design complexity" a couple of years back (http://www.santafe.edu/media/workingpapers/09-07-023.pdf/) --the degree of interdependence between functional parts of a system. The methodology of IIT is extremely well-posed to operate as a general formal structure for thinking about all this stuff, but if it's going to do that it needs to avoid getting confused about what it's supposed to be doing. It shouldn't be advocating for one individuation over another; it should be giving us the tools to think about individuation generally.

It seems to me that this is probably a good way to capture a lot of what we mean by 'consciousness,' especially from a (rather... more »

John Horgan reports on _ a two-day workshop on integrated information theory at New York University last month. Conceived by neuroscientist Guilio Tononi (who trained under the late, great Gerald Edelman), IIT is an extremely ambitious theory of consciousness. It applies to all forms of matter, not just brains, and it implies that panpsychism might be true. Koch and others are taking panpsychism seriously because they take IIT seriously._

At the workshop, Chalmers, Tononi, Koch and ten other speakers presented their views of IIT, which were then batted around by 30 or so other scientists and philosophers.

+John Baez, +Philip Thrift, +Richard Green, +Daniel Estrada, +Jon Lawhead, +Susan Stepney, +James Salsman, +Artem Kaznatcheev, others, what do you think? of IIT ___Copying over a comment from +Daniel Estrada's thread on this.

I haven't followed this debate closely, but from what I understand, phi is supposed to just correspond to what the SFI folks called "design complexity" a couple of years back (http://www.santafe.edu/media/workingpapers/09-07-023.pdf/) --the degree of interdependence between functional parts of a system. The methodology of IIT is extremely well-posed to operate as a general formal structure for thinking about all this stuff, but if it's going to do that it needs to avoid getting confused about what it's supposed to be doing. It shouldn't be advocating for one individuation over another; it should be giving us the tools to think about individuation generally.

It seems to me that this is probably a good way to capture a lot of what we mean by 'consciousness,' especially from a (rather narrow, albeit important) computational/functionalist perspective. Anything with enough information processing capacity that's also hooked up in the way these guys are talking about is probably going to (for instance) pass the Turing Test, at least given the right amount of training. It's going to be intelligent, that is, in most of the ways that matter to us.

That said, I still don't think that this kind of analysis (at least narrowly applied like that) captures all the interesting or salient information about intelligent/conscious/whatever systems. At a certain level of abstraction--from a certain perspective--two things with identical computational power and identical phi values might be functionally identical, but that fact, like most anything else, is a reflection of value-laden choices about how to partition the world into systems, components, properties, &c. There's nothing wrong with that perspective, and it might well reveal lots of interesting stuff about the world, but we shouldn't mistake it for something like The Ultimate Theory precisely because the choices inherent in the act of doing all that partitioning render some features salient (or relevant) and other features inconsequential.

It seems to me that what people are usually getting at when they make Searle-y arguments about simulation vs. duplication, the hard problem vs. the easy problem, or the distinction between intelligent information processors and "true" conscious agents has something to do with tacitly adopting a slightly different perspective on all this--working with a slightly different way of individuating things such that some of what you're thinking of as irrelevant differences become important markers of meaningful distinctions.

I think one of the most important lessons that we can take away from recognizing the system individuation problem is that the claim "x is functionally identical to y" is deeply question-begging, as its truth can only be assessed within the context of a bunch of decisions about what the functions are, what the "substrate" (or whatever) in which those functions are realized is, and why the line is drawn in that particular place rather than another. When you say things like "I don't believe in consciousness," I think you're really making a claim about the importance/utility of a particular individuation schema: one that distinguishes between systems with identical phi values and all that jazz, but which are realized in different material substrates, arose through significantly different classes of causal histories, or whatever.

This is always how I've read Dennett's rather "soft" denial of consciousness as well. He wants to deny that any perspective which partitions physical systems in a way that tracks "kinds" on a basis like that has anything interesting to teach us about the world; he thinks that to the extent there are relevant real patterns in there, they're better explored with other partitionings, and so we should abandon the individuation schema that talks about "consciousness" in favor of others.

That's really the thing I don't like, but I'm also willing to admit that it's a question about which reasonable people might disagree. I also think that it is, at bottom, an empirical question.

2015-12-02 03:39:59 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

The gym at my apartment has a couple of nice treadmills and one awful old treadmill that almost ever works. Tonight when I went down to work out not only was it not working, but it was making some kind of hideous roaring noise that suggested it was moments away from liftoff and/or detonation. I tried to reset it with the emergency stop switch, but it didn't help. One of the other people in there told me he'd tried that too. All the electrical outlets are beneath the machines, so you can't unplug them from the wall, and the treadmill itself has a lock on the maintenance panel to prevent...I'm not sure what.

I told the other guy "be right back," went back to my apartment, got my picks, picked the lock, and powered it down. The guy gave me a high five, and we went about our routines in peace.

Fuck that noise. #radicalselfreliance

The gym at my apartment has a couple of nice treadmills and one awful old treadmill that almost ever works. Tonight when I went down to work out not only was it not working, but it was making some kind of hideous roaring noise that suggested it was moments away from liftoff and/or detonation. I tried to reset it with the emergency stop switch, but it didn't help. One of the other people in there told me he'd tried that too. All the electrical outlets are beneath the machines, so you can't unplug them from the wall, and the treadmill itself has a lock on the maintenance panel to prevent...I'm not sure what.

I told the other guy "be right back," went back to my apartment, got my picks, picked the lock, and powered it down. The guy gave me a high five, and we went about our routines in peace.

Fuck that noise. #radicalselfreliance___

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2015-12-01 22:31:54 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

This is a great read (and open access too!).

Also, casual naturalism for the win:

"Both children and adults tend to confuse aspects of reality (i.e., “core knowledge”) in systematic ways. Any category mistake involving property differences between animate and inanimate or mental and physical, as examples, constitutes an ontological confusion."

Relevant to +David Gerard​...___This is a great read (and open access too!).

Also, casual naturalism for the win:

"Both children and adults tend to confuse aspects of reality (i.e., “core knowledge”) in systematic ways. Any category mistake involving property differences between animate and inanimate or mental and physical, as examples, constitutes an ontological confusion."

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2015-12-01 22:10:47 (1 comments; 3 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

Fuck This Incident in Particular

I shared this once yesterday, but I'm doing it again today. Not just because it's important and accurate, but because today I received reviewer comments and a decision (revise & resubmit, which is generally "we'll eventually take it, but only after you make all our editors happy by making a bunch of changes") on a journal article that I submitted for publication last December. It took almost exactly a full year, including a whole summer for them to review a piece of fewer than 8,000 words. This is one of the most prestigious journals in my field.

It should go without saying that this standard is wildly unacceptable, especially given how much people in junior positions (like me) depend on publications in top journals in order to get hired and tenured. Long review times like this, coupled with policies that... more »

Fuck This Incident in Particular

I shared this once yesterday, but I'm doing it again today. Not just because it's important and accurate, but because today I received reviewer comments and a decision (revise & resubmit, which is generally "we'll eventually take it, but only after you make all our editors happy by making a bunch of changes") on a journal article that I submitted for publication last December. It took almost exactly a full year, including a whole summer for them to review a piece of fewer than 8,000 words. This is one of the most prestigious journals in my field.

It should go without saying that this standard is wildly unacceptable, especially given how much people in junior positions (like me) depend on publications in top journals in order to get hired and tenured. Long review times like this, coupled with policies that prevent you from submitting more than one manuscript at a time to any given journal, make it virtually impossible to secure publications in an even remotely timely manner. Because hiring and tenure committees make their decisions largely (or almost purely) on publication track records, this does a lot of harm to a lot of people.

The current model of academic publishing hurts us as professionals, but it also hurts the field of scholarly research more generally. It slows the pace of inquiry. It keeps research locked away behind paywalls, preventing people bereft of institutional access from reading it without paying huge fees--none of which go to the authors. As if this weren't bad enough, all the major work is done by volunteers working in the same industries being hamstrung by journals' practices. Those who aren't academics probably aren't aware that authors aren't paid for their writing, but we aren't. Reviews of submitted articles are similarly conducted by "volunteer" researchers, who are uncompensated for their time with anything more than a line in the "service" section of their CV.

Academic publishing, as it is currently designed, benefits absolutely no one except the publishing companies themselves. It may have made sense once upon a time, but it very much no longer does. Virtually every researcher I know under 50 (and many over 50 as well) post their papers on sites like academia.edu, philpapers.org, arXiV.org, or their personal websites long before those papers ever see print in an actual journal. The liveliest and most cutting-edge research takes place in unpublished (or pre-published) conference papers, preprints, or because of open piracy of academic writing.

Perhaps the easiest way to start to make a change would be for those in senior positions--hiring positions--to begin to push back against the "publish or perish" model of academic success. Examine candidates holistically. Actually read their writing, no matter where it's housed. Go beyond journal names and publication numbers, and take a real look at what contributions candidates are making to scholarly discourse and education across all media.

Academic publishing companies continue to profit off of all of us only because we've designed our profession to allow it. This is an absurd and unsustainable situation, and we need to do something about it. We are ostensibly among the smartest people on the planet. Let's figure out a better way.___

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2015-12-01 06:00:40 (0 comments; 3 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

This is an extremely well designed and comprehensive tool. I'm inclined to think that a 2°C target is unrealistic at this point, but playing around with this thing is still really helpful to get an understanding of what it would take to meet certain targets.

This is an eye-opener.___This is an extremely well designed and comprehensive tool. I'm inclined to think that a 2°C target is unrealistic at this point, but playing around with this thing is still really helpful to get an understanding of what it would take to meet certain targets.

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2015-12-01 04:58:30 (0 comments; 9 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

___

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2015-12-01 04:43:08 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

"With weeklong gale-force winds blowing tons of dust with almost freezing nights, finally we had some desert weather after years of French Riviera vanilla.

In such conditions everybody was pushed to the limit; burgins, newbies, 3 years-burners-know-it all, veterans, old timers, everyone had to physically and mentally regroup at some point. The structural integrity of numerous shelters was challenged while new but well-crafted structures passed with flying colors. Black Rock City deserves to welcome the Festival of the Extreme Habitat."

The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

"With weeklong gale-force winds blowing tons of dust with almost freezing nights, finally we had some desert weather after years of French Riviera vanilla.

In such conditions everybody was pushed to the limit; burgins, newbies, 3 years-burners-know-it all, veterans, old timers, everyone had to physically and mentally regroup at some point. The structural integrity of numerous shelters was challenged while new but well-crafted structures passed with flying colors. Black Rock City deserves to welcome the Festival of the Extreme Habitat."___

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2015-12-01 04:34:47 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

The world is messy, and science is hard.

The world is messy, and science is hard.___

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2015-12-01 01:14:02 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

"Share this letter - read it in public - leave it in the printer. Share your writing - digitize a book - upload your files. Don't let our knowledge be crushed. Care for the libraries - care for the metadata - care for the backup. Water the flowers - clean the volcanoes.

We demonstrate daily, and on a massive scale, that the system is broken. We share our writing secretly behind the backs of our publishers, circumvent paywalls to access articles and publications, digitize and upload books to libraries. This is the other side of 37% profit margins: our knowledge commons grows in the fault lines of a broken system. We are all custodians of knowledge, custodians of the same infrastructures that we depend on for producing knowledge, custodians of our fertile but fragile commons. To be a custodian is, de facto, to download, to share, to read, to write, to review, to edit, to digitize, to... more »

"Share this letter - read it in public - leave it in the printer. Share your writing - digitize a book - upload your files. Don't let our knowledge be crushed. Care for the libraries - care for the metadata - care for the backup. Water the flowers - clean the volcanoes.

We demonstrate daily, and on a massive scale, that the system is broken. We share our writing secretly behind the backs of our publishers, circumvent paywalls to access articles and publications, digitize and upload books to libraries. This is the other side of 37% profit margins: our knowledge commons grows in the fault lines of a broken system. We are all custodians of knowledge, custodians of the same infrastructures that we depend on for producing knowledge, custodians of our fertile but fragile commons. To be a custodian is, de facto, to download, to share, to read, to write, to review, to edit, to digitize, to archive, to maintain libraries, to make them accessible. It is to be of use to, not to make property of, our knowledge commons."___

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2015-12-01 01:10:17 (0 comments; 3 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

A couple of addenda on this. The damage caused by air travel is impacted a few different factors. Burning a pound of jet fuel A (JF-A, which is basically kerosene) and a pound of gasoline both produce approximately the same amount of CO2: somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 pounds (slightly less for gasoline and slightly more for JF-A), thanks to the miracle of conservation of energy. In addition, the energy content of JF-A and standard gasoline are roughly comparable, meaning that it takes about the same amount of each to accelerate a given mass by a given amount (interestingly, diesel has a slightly higher energy density than either). This is all slightly complicated by density--JF-A is considerably heavier than gas, and so has a lower energy per weight but a higher energy per volume--but the differences aren't hugely significant in the scheme of things. One gallon of JF-A generates about 140,000... more »

A couple of addenda on this. The damage caused by air travel is impacted a few different factors. Burning a pound of jet fuel A (JF-A, which is basically kerosene) and a pound of gasoline both produce approximately the same amount of CO2: somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 pounds (slightly less for gasoline and slightly more for JF-A), thanks to the miracle of conservation of energy. In addition, the energy content of JF-A and standard gasoline are roughly comparable, meaning that it takes about the same amount of each to accelerate a given mass by a given amount (interestingly, diesel has a slightly higher energy density than either). This is all slightly complicated by density--JF-A is considerably heavier than gas, and so has a lower energy per weight but a higher energy per volume--but the differences aren't hugely significant in the scheme of things. One gallon of JF-A generates about 140,000 BTUs of energy vs. about 125,000 for gasoline. The biggest reason to use JF-A instead of gasoline in air travel is that it has a much higher flash point, burns hotter, has a much lower freeze point, and is much more stable. Those are all good things when you're 30,000 feet in the air.

However, all that said, burning a pound of JF-A does more damage on the whole than burning a pound of gas or diesel because of location. The byproducts of combustion from JF-A are emitted into the high troposphere or very low stratosphere (depending on the flight envelope), where they have the potential to contribute a much stronger greenhouse effect than do the byproducts of gasoline, which are emitted near the surface. Since the greenhouse effect is, at bottom, a quantum mechanical effect, putting all that CO2 high up in the atmosphere results in the CO2 molecules having the opportunity to absorb a lot more photons than they can if they're lower down in the atmosphere, potentially trapping more heat for a longer time. Moreover, CO2 isn't the only byproduct of JF-A combustion, and many of the other chemicals have other nasty effects, like degrading ozone (which is pretty important up there).___

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2015-12-01 00:14:54 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Science and Public Policy Discussion Meeting: Geoengineering

In the Los Angeles area? Want to come talk about climate engineering and public policy? The University of Southern California Science and Public Policy Group will be hosting a discussion with yours truly this Friday, December 4, at 2:00 PM. It's nominally open to the public, so any of you wacky people could and should show up.

We'll be talking about climate engineering (also known as geoengineering, unless you're a petroleum engineer; they get defensive about that term), which involves the deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the global climate in order to reverse or mitigate some of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. It includes proposals as diverse as injecting particles into the upper atmosphere to increase the global albedo, brightening clouds over oceans, and putting giant mirrors into... more »

Science and Public Policy Discussion Meeting: Geoengineering

In the Los Angeles area? Want to come talk about climate engineering and public policy? The University of Southern California Science and Public Policy Group will be hosting a discussion with yours truly this Friday, December 4, at 2:00 PM. It's nominally open to the public, so any of you wacky people could and should show up.

We'll be talking about climate engineering (also known as geoengineering, unless you're a petroleum engineer; they get defensive about that term), which involves the deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the global climate in order to reverse or mitigate some of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. It includes proposals as diverse as injecting particles into the upper atmosphere to increase the global albedo, brightening clouds over oceans, and putting giant mirrors into space, just like some kind of James Bond villain. The debate tends to attract crazy people like little else (try searching the term on YouTube or here on G+ something if you're curious and masochistic), and is fraught with ethical, political, and scientific challenges, all of which makes it great fun to talk about.

I've attached a brief piece by Dale Jamieson here that goes over some of the basics. For an even more brief consideration of some of the issues, I have a blog post featuring a picture of Jeff Goldblum shirtless, which I will link to in the comments.

The meeting is on the USC campus this Friday (December 4) at 2:00 PM, in the Zumberge Hall of Science, Room 200. Please feel free to attend, but only if you're not just going to rant about #chemtrails. I'm happy to engage with chemtrail folks privately, but this is a forum for serious discussion of the policy implications of long-term climate engineering.

#geoengineering #climateengineering #climatepolicy #climatechange #publicpolicy___

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2015-11-19 04:44:52 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

// This past September, +Jon Lawhead and I built a semiautonomous hitchhiking robot as an homage to hitchBOT, and took it with us to Burning Man. We named it richROT. You can see some pictures of its adventures in this collection. The flyer art was generously gifted by +Vincent Venatici's friend, whose name I've forgotten, and was written by everyone at Corporation Chaos.

richROT was made from a metal trashcan containing about 35 pounds of kitty litter to keep it from blowing away. We sent it off on four missions over the week long event. It returned all four times. We gave locations and times as destinations, and included a back-up destination and disposable camera in a sealed plastic bag. The first two times it came back several hours before it was expected. The final two times it came back over a day late.

We considered the experiment to be a huge success.
... more »

// This past September, +Jon Lawhead and I built a semiautonomous hitchhiking robot as an homage to hitchBOT, and took it with us to Burning Man. We named it richROT. You can see some pictures of its adventures in this collection. The flyer art was generously gifted by +Vincent Venatici's friend, whose name I've forgotten, and was written by everyone at Corporation Chaos.

richROT was made from a metal trashcan containing about 35 pounds of kitty litter to keep it from blowing away. We sent it off on four missions over the week long event. It returned all four times. We gave locations and times as destinations, and included a back-up destination and disposable camera in a sealed plastic bag. The first two times it came back several hours before it was expected. The final two times it came back over a day late.

We considered the experiment to be a huge success.

I've been meaning to write up the experiment in more detail. Getting these images online is a start; we talk about this more in our Autonomy discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSRZhUXsNE8

It's also worth noting that when we came back from Burning Man, we found the Facebook feed of another group doing a similar project: Burn-1.E. the burn surfing robot was passed around between burners and kept a log of its journeys you can see on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/Burnbot1E/

I know there were other robots on the playa, but the fact that two robots modeled after hitchBOT successfully navigated conditions on the playa suggests the form might be viable, especially in an environment as supportive and welcoming as Burning Man.

richROT will definitely be back next year!

___

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2015-11-18 22:11:32 (3 comments; 2 reshares; 15 +1s)Open 

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2015-11-17 21:43:27 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

There's a webinar happening tomorrow (the 18th) from 4-5 PM EST on how to advocate for science policy as a scientist or engineer (I suppose philosophers are welcome too).  It's being put on by a group called the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition. In their own words:

"The goal of ESEP, an ad-hoc coalition of organizations formed in 2013, is to empower scientists and engineers to effectively engage in the policy making process at all levels of government."

This looks like it could be neat.  I'm going to try to tune in.

There's a webinar happening tomorrow (the 18th) from 4-5 PM EST on how to advocate for science policy as a scientist or engineer (I suppose philosophers are welcome too).  It's being put on by a group called the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition. In their own words:

"The goal of ESEP, an ad-hoc coalition of organizations formed in 2013, is to empower scientists and engineers to effectively engage in the policy making process at all levels of government."

This looks like it could be neat.  I'm going to try to tune in.___

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2015-11-17 03:55:33 (1 comments; 7 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Fucking awesome

Fucking awesome___

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2015-11-17 03:49:42 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

I'm giving a talk tomorrow to a graduate seminar on climate systems.  They've spent most of the semester talking about modeling, but haven't ever really examined what models are, how they're different from other parts of science, or how climate models in particular are peculiar.  The regular instructor asked me to talk for an hour or so about all that stuff.  This is what I came up with, as a Prezi.  Feel free to reuse anything you want, as always.

I'm giving a talk tomorrow to a graduate seminar on climate systems.  They've spent most of the semester talking about modeling, but haven't ever really examined what models are, how they're different from other parts of science, or how climate models in particular are peculiar.  The regular instructor asked me to talk for an hour or so about all that stuff.  This is what I came up with, as a Prezi.  Feel free to reuse anything you want, as always.___

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2015-11-17 03:29:25 (0 comments; 6 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

I'm giving a talk tomorrow to a graduate seminar on climate systems.  They've spent most of the semester talking about modeling, but haven't ever really examined what models are, how they're different from other parts of science, or how climate models in particular are peculiar.  The regular instructor asked me to talk for an hour or so about all that stuff.  This is what I came up with, as a Prezi.  Feel free to reuse anything you want, as always.

I'm giving a talk tomorrow to a graduate seminar on climate systems.  They've spent most of the semester talking about modeling, but haven't ever really examined what models are, how they're different from other parts of science, or how climate models in particular are peculiar.  The regular instructor asked me to talk for an hour or so about all that stuff.  This is what I came up with, as a Prezi.  Feel free to reuse anything you want, as always.___

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2015-11-16 21:58:22 (2 comments; 22 reshares; 32 +1s)Open 

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2015-11-15 03:09:05 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

// Excellent right to the end. 

https://vimeo.com/145702525
via +Dor Konforty 

// Excellent right to the end. 

https://vimeo.com/145702525
via +Dor Konforty ___

2015-11-11 01:28:40 (1 comments; 4 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

El Nino, Waves, and Tuna Fish: A Case Study in Complexity

I spent a few hours today talking to an oceanographer in my department about El Nino, and listening to him explain the dynamics behind how it appears and disappears.  The stuff that he told me was super fascinating, and makes for a really great case study in how dynamical complexity works.  Because of the degree of interconnectedness between the dynamics of the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere, it turns out that migratory patterns of some fish (and predators that eat fish) in the Pacific Ocean are coupled to the same dynamical forces that drive the semi-periodic appearance (and disappearance) of El Nino.

Most people are familiar with El Nino, but probably don't know exactly what it is.  Most simply, "El Nino" refers to a period of unusually warm water at the surface of parts of the Pacific Ocean--mostno... more »

El Nino, Waves, and Tuna Fish: A Case Study in Complexity

I spent a few hours today talking to an oceanographer in my department about El Nino, and listening to him explain the dynamics behind how it appears and disappears.  The stuff that he told me was super fascinating, and makes for a really great case study in how dynamical complexity works.  Because of the degree of interconnectedness between the dynamics of the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere, it turns out that migratory patterns of some fish (and predators that eat fish) in the Pacific Ocean are coupled to the same dynamical forces that drive the semi-periodic appearance (and disappearance) of El Nino.

Most people are familiar with El Nino, but probably don't know exactly what it is.  Most simply, "El Nino" refers to a period of unusually warm water at the surface of parts of the Pacific Ocean--most notably off the coast of central and south America, and extending all the way out toward Tahiti.  This sea surface temperature anomaly reappears every 2-7 years on average, lasts for a couple of months, and then usually disappears, only to be replaced by unusually cold temperatures in the same waters.  The cycling between warmer and colder ocean water has a strong effect on the global climate system, and drives significant differences in weather patterns over much of the globe, especially in nations that border the Pacific Ocean.

What explains the periodic nature of El Nino, though?  Where does it come from, and why does it oscillate like that?  Here's where things get particularly interesting.  Like many things in the ocean, El Nino--or, as it's officially known, the "El Nino/Southern Oscillation" (ENSO)--is strongly influenced by patterns of atmospheric circulation.  Changes in the speed and strength of the trade winds have a huge impact on ocean currents, and the movement of warmer water (which has a lower density than colder water) to different locations can trigger incredibly wide-ranging and complex changes in the structure of the ocean.

During an El Nino phase, a particular pattern of air pressure imbalance between Tahiti and Darwin (on the northern coast of Australia) causes the creation of a number of anomalous currents.  These currents "pile" warmer water into parts of the Pacific Ocean that don't normally see such temperatures.  In combination with a cold water upwelling off the coast of Peru, this creates a number of huge, slow moving waves that propagate back and forth across the Pacific basin.  These waves are called Kelvin Waves when they're moving east, and Rossby Waves when they're moving west.  

Just like in a small pond, waves in the ocean can be reflected off land to propagate back out toward the sea.  When the Kelvin and Rossby waves run into the coast of South America in the east or Indonesia and the Pacific Islands in the west, they're reflected back in the other direction, resulting in what from space would look like a slow "sloshing" motion of the entire Pacific Ocean.  Because the speed at which the waves propagate changes over time, the actual motion of the water in the Pacific Basin is a function of rather complicated wave dynamics: when the peaks and troughs line up in the right way, enormously anomalous changes in the depth of the thermocline--and thus in sea surface temperature--appear.  That's what causes the cycling.

Now here's where things get even more interesting.  The leading edge of these waves tends to be colder, and the trailing edge tends to be warmer, due to upwelling and downwelling in the water.  Colder water is drawn up from the deep ocean as the waves move across the basin, resulting in the moving warm and cold patches that can occasionally line up and cause an El Nino.  However, colder water is also richer water: as it wells up from the deep ocean, it brings a whole bunch of nutrients and chemicals with it.  Living things like those nutrients a lot (this thermohaline circulation is what keeps the oceans livable).  

After talking to this oceanographer about all this, I had a suspicion that I wanted to confirm.  I did a little bit of research, and sure enough, this upwelling and downwelling of nutritious water is a major driver of periodic ecosystem shifts--in other words, migrations.  As the nutrient rich deep waters move across the Pacific Ocean as part of the Kelvin and Rossby waves, schools of fish--including tuna--travel with them, along with larger animals that prey on those fish.  This results in a complicated pattern of back and forth motion of ecosystems that's lazily periodic, just like the cycle between El Nino and La Nina.  It also explains the somewhat difficult to predict nature of Pacific ocean fisheries: the fish are following the Rossby and Kelvin waves where they are strongest.  Sure enough, after looking it up, I found that a number of aquatic animal populations move about the Pacific Ocean in quasiperiodic patterns that match up neatly with the period of ENSO-causing waves in the Pacific.

This means that the movement of life in the Pacific Basin is coupled strongly to things like the position of the continents (which reflect the waves back and forth) and the location and strength of high and low pressure systems in the atmosphere, things that you'd never suspect would directly impact where living things go.  This is an almost textbook perfect example of why dynamically complex systems can demonstrate behavior that looks bizarrely anomalous unless you understand what's going on from multiple perspectives and from multiple scales; things that you would never think matter to one part of the system turn out to constrain its behavior in intricate, important ways.  Absolutely fascinating.___

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2015-11-09 02:33:29 (0 comments; 5 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

#rainforestrealism

#rainforestrealism___

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2015-11-04 01:20:10 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

Super awesome output from https://jakevdp.github.io/blog/2013/02/16/animating-the-lorentz-system-in-3d/

Super awesome output from https://jakevdp.github.io/blog/2013/02/16/animating-the-lorentz-system-in-3d/___

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2015-11-04 01:11:28 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

”Things that we now regard as routine, 30 years ago would have been regarded as amazing examples of Artificial Intelligence”
-+Geoffrey Hinton, Google Distinguished Researcher

The world is filled with things that most of us are able to understand and react to without much thought… a stop sign partially covered by snow is still a stop sign… a chair that’s five times bigger than usual is still a place to sit. But for computers, the world is often messy and complicated. Check out a new video where Google engineers and researchers discuss how machine learning is beginning to make computers, and many of the things we use them for (maps, search, recommending videos, translations), better.

”Things that we now regard as routine, 30 years ago would have been regarded as amazing examples of Artificial Intelligence”
-+Geoffrey Hinton, Google Distinguished Researcher

The world is filled with things that most of us are able to understand and react to without much thought… a stop sign partially covered by snow is still a stop sign… a chair that’s five times bigger than usual is still a place to sit. But for computers, the world is often messy and complicated. Check out a new video where Google engineers and researchers discuss how machine learning is beginning to make computers, and many of the things we use them for (maps, search, recommending videos, translations), better.___

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2015-11-03 00:19:31 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

This amazing thing showed up in my mailbox today. That's a quarter for scale. I'm 95% sure I never ordered it, and have no idea where it came from. 

This amazing thing showed up in my mailbox today. That's a quarter for scale. I'm 95% sure I never ordered it, and have no idea where it came from. ___

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2015-11-02 09:36:40 (2 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

So we're making a weapon that shoots tiny bursts of plasma that scream at people. 

So we're making a weapon that shoots tiny bursts of plasma that scream at people. ___

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2015-10-31 20:35:55 (0 comments; 4 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

___

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2015-10-30 22:17:33 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

Venkatesh Rao:

In some ways, “dealing with climate change” is the largest, most complex collective action ever contemplated by humans. Here I don’t mean collective action in the leftist sense of a political coalition based on egalitarianism and solidarity. I mean any kind of large-scale action involving coordination (not getting in each other’s way), cooperation (not working at cross-purposes), collaboration (combining efforts intelligently) and conflict (structured adversarial interactions encompassed by the system  to allow net action to emerge from a set of warring ideologies), in a politically neutral sense. Everything from weaponized sacredness (think the Pope’s statements on climate change) to war and unmanaged refugee crises can fit into this broad definition, but as I’ll argue, it’s not so broad as to be useless.

So the definition includes everything from thepyramids of Eg... more »

Venkatesh Rao:

In some ways, “dealing with climate change” is the largest, most complex collective action ever contemplated by humans. Here I don’t mean collective action in the leftist sense of a political coalition based on egalitarianism and solidarity. I mean any kind of large-scale action involving coordination (not getting in each other’s way), cooperation (not working at cross-purposes), collaboration (combining efforts intelligently) and conflict (structured adversarial interactions encompassed by the system  to allow net action to emerge from a set of warring ideologies), in a politically neutral sense. Everything from weaponized sacredness (think the Pope’s statements on climate change) to war and unmanaged refugee crises can fit into this broad definition, but as I’ll argue, it’s not so broad as to be useless.

So the definition includes everything from the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China to the Normandy landings in WW II, the building of Standard Oil, the modern bond market, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Historically, the “peak-load capabilities” of our biggest collective action systems have been expanding steadily, modulo some ups and downs in the interstices of imperial ages, since the Neolithic revolution and the first pot-sized granary.

The interesting question is, what are those “some ways” in which a response to climate change futures is unprecedented, and what does that imply for the likelihood of it succeeding?

[...]

The reason the scale of capabilities is more important than the scale of problems is that any non-trivial problem can be scoped in ambition to be arbitrarily big, and beyond the reach of the most complex mechanisms available. There is no shortage of experts in panic-causing demagoguery capable of creating a frenzy around unactionably large concerns (a “frenzy” is in some ways the opposite of collective action; it is collective anti-action, which is arguably worse than passivity in almost all situations, since it tends to enable profiteering — unless you view profiteering as useful Darwinian culling of the human herd).

So it is far more useful to approach challenges from the perspective of the scale of existing capabilities, and asking how much capability growth can be creatively accelerated without triggering collapse in the mechanisms themselves. Are we trying to grow capability as fast as it did in the 1880s-90s for instance? Or 2x that rate? 3x? 10x?

As Tainter argues in Collapse, what kills civilizations is failure of problem-solving mechanisms rather than the nature of the problems themselves. Moonshot objectives work better as a way to calibrate the desired expansion in capability rather than as actual goals to achieve. Capability expansion is about toeing the fine line between a stretch goal and a breaking stress; between breaking smart and breaking bad. What doesn’t break you only makes you stronger, but what does break you makes the problem worse, since you’re now part of the problem.

[...]

Most large-scale human collective action examples are best compared to algorithms for what computer scientists call embarrassingly parallel problems: ones where a small amount of central coordination and a large amount of relatively uncoupled (or at most, locally coupled) activity is enough to solve the problem. So Facebook solved an (extremely) embarrassingly parallel problem of size 1 billion: logging on within a 24-hour problem. A problem that registers very low on all but one of the 4Cs (coordination). Even getting one billion to “like” a specific kitten picture would be a 100x bigger problem.

[...]

People like to measure, or qualitatively characterize, the scale and nature of problems rather than problem-solving systems/institutions. So phrases like wicked problem or the regimes of the popular Cynefin framework (obvious, complex, complicated, chaotic) are usually used to describe problems rather than problem-solving systems (even though their proponents often claim they can characterize both).

I have concluded this is usually pointless. It feeds analysis-paralysis.

[...]

A true measure of the scale of a a problem-solving capability is actually the net capability that emerges from this 3-piece system: a problem-solving computer, a game-the-first-computer-computer (which might be characterized by the most complex byzantine conspiracy capability it embodies, for milking, without destroying, the first computer), and an open-resistance computer (which will be asymmetrically simpler than the first two, since it will have simple destruction goals).

Much as you might detest the second and third pieces, they actually serve to maintain systemic health: the “gaming” computer acts as a check-and-balance on runaway processes of lousy mechanism design in the first computer, while the open-resistance computer keeps the capability growth epistemologically honest.

This is a huge drama about to unfold. We are about to refactor the fundamental principles of checks and balances that were first debated and designed during the emergence of modern nation states between the 1650s and 1900, through the process of writing constitutions of various sorts.

So here is what we know, so far, about the unprecedented nature of the response to climate change:

 - It will involve shifting the capability curve peak up and to the right, and perhaps lengthening the scale beyond it’s current 1 billion limit on the x-axis. The shift in the curve will embody a “climate change computer.”
 - A more sophisticated “gaming computer” will emerge in response, and the VW fraud represents the first significant action on that front.
 - It will also involve an anti-computer that is at least as sophisticated as the anti-vaxx movement.

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/09/29/what-is-the-largest-collective-action-ever/___

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2015-10-30 03:01:50 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

I made a BRC Ranger pumpkin for Halloween.  

I made a BRC Ranger pumpkin for Halloween.  ___

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