Monday, February 27, 2012

What is meaning ?

Understanding meaning is sometimes termed "the really hard problem."  Kintsch (in Attention and Performance, R. S. Nickerson, ed., Lawrence Erlbaum, 1980) attributes to Aristotle a feature model of meaning.  The meaning of  "man" is the set of features that a man possesses: "two legs", "two arms", "a mind", etc.  A concept stored in Asa H has such features associated with it (on the next lower level of the memory hierarchy).

Quillian's "semantic networks" were conceived as a representational format that would permit the meanings of words to be stored. Each concept is defined in terms of its associations (links and uses) with other concepts in the network. Again, a network like the one learned and used by Asa H.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What is real?

The best current answer is the ontology created by the sciences:
i.e., particles, fields, space-time, wave functions, atoms, molecules,amino acids, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, etc., etc.
These categories are, of course, tentative, subject to almost certain change. (For example, are there strings?)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What is knowledge?

An "intelligence" is " a system to handle all of the calculations from crude inputs through to overt actions in an adaptive way so as to maximize some measure of performance over time" (P. J. Werbos, IEEE Trans. Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 1987, pg 7) This intelligence might be the brain of a robot which operates in the real world. An example of such a system would be my Asa H (see, for example, my 10 Feb. 2011 blog).

"Knowledge" is then the set of patterns learned by such a system and used by it to "live." (see, for a simple example, my 22 Nov. 2010 blog or the examples in chapter 1 of my book TWELVE PAPERS, amazon ASIN: B005SVVEYC) In general this knowledge is approximate and fallible.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Print versus ebooks

I have previously commented on ebooks and ereaders.  I use both these and print books.  But one thing has changed for sure; I don't roam the stacks much any more, rather I now do mostly online searching.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ways of knowing

Is there just a single "way of knowing?" Call it "the scientific method." Or are there various ways of coming to reliable knowledge of the world?  Certainly each scientist works a bit differently.  No two work in exactly the same way.  Methods and standards also vary from one field to the next. Theoreticians may work differently from experimentalists. Deduction and induction.
The extent of human knowledge far surpasses what can be mastered by a single individual.  It would take more than a dozen good scientists to master physics alone.  So one has to trust in "authorities."  You can't possibly do all the experimental tests yourself.  You can't possibly check all of the math proofs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The right computers

Most of the coding that I do is done at a desktop but I used to have (in the 1980s and  1990s) a Sharp pocket computer (PC-1251) that I could use away from the office to try out algorithms and other ideas. (Its display died after about 20 years. Currently my Texas Instruments TI-86 can do about what I used to do with the PC-1251, but in "TI-BASIC" language.) Today I use a laptop (or netbook) for such purposes.  I own a Dell Axim pocket PC and also a tablet PC but they lack real keyboards.  Just like you need a keyboard if you do a lot of texting I find I also want a keyboard if  I'm programming.  When I'm coding or when I'm reading electronic documents I also want a larger screen than what is available with typical current tablets. (I find the screens on typical ereaders to be too small as well.  They are smaller than the pages of most print books.) I also find Android inadequate as an operating system. (But it is being improved, I've not used Android 4.0.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Credit for publication

During consideration for retention, tenure, promotion, and raises administrators in academia tend to count 1 physics publication = 1 chemistry publication = 1 earth science publication = 1 biology publication = .....  This is unjust.  Publication rates (and the difficulty of generating original publishable research) are different in different fields (and different in different subfields). (Demographic and economic determinates of scientific productivity, Stephen and Levin, Policy Research Program,  Georgia State Univ., Nov. 1987)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"The Singularity"

My view is different from those who believe in "the singularity."  For me the question is more: "can mankind survive long enough to create independent mechanical life?" This should be one of our goals as a civilization. By "independent mechanical life" I mean mechanical life (see my 19 Oct. 2010 and 30 July 2011 blog posts) that can continue on after we humans have gone extinct.


Why so much BASIC language?

The biggest program I've ever written was actually in PROLOG but I HAVE written a lot of BASIC language code.

BASIC is one of the most popular languages for RAD (rapid application development)/ rapid (software) prototyping.  Artificial intelligence research involves lots of exploratory programming. Experimental programming is an ideal place to make use of RAD.

BASIC, being simple, is also good for students (see my Jan. 1, 2012 post on physics without calculus for  example).