Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for August 12, 2019

in #rsslog3 years ago

Puzzling about why people puzzle about consciousness; IEEE Spectrum's weekly selection of awesome robot videos; Learning soft skills in virtual reality; Teaching a growth mind set helps under-performing American students; Uses of visualization in biology


Straight from my RSS feed:
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.

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pixabay license: source.

  1. The Language of Mind - A talk by David Chalmers - This is the next post in the edge.org Possible Minds series. As with others, David Chalmers talks for about 15 minutes, which is followed by a discussion among the panelists. Chalmers is known for his work into the so-called, "hard problem of human consciousness", which is the question of why we to have a notion of self-awareness at all, instead of just carrying out all our behaviors in the same fashion, but as unaware automatons. In this talk, he goes to the next level, asking, "why we think there is a problem of consciousness and, in particular, why we go around saying there is a problem of consciousness." He refers to this as the "meta problem of consciousness", gives a number of behavioral examples that show that this sort of puzzlement about consciousness is widespread, even in children, and argues that there is an open and tractable question for psychology, neuroscience, AI, and philosophy to explain the computational mechanism that causes people to puzzle themselves over the nature of consciousness. Discussion participants include Rod Brooks, Alison Gopnik, Neil Gershenfeld, and others. Gopnik's comments at around 18 minutes are especially interesting. This edge.org series has also been covered here:


  2. Video Friday: This Wearable Robotic Tail Will Improve Your Balance - IEEE Spectrum's weekly selection of awesome robot videos includes research towards robots that build their own tools; a wearable robotic tail that augments the human body and helps with balance; a quadruped for lunar research that moves by jumping; A video of German schoolgirls reacting to Simulative Emotional Expression Robot (SEER); a robotic cane - for walking stability; and more...

    Here's my favorite, a telepresence astronaut-replacement robot for the ISS:


  • You can now practice firing someone in virtual reality - The company, Talespin, has created a number of virtual reality (VR) characters to help managers learn "soft skills". One, Barry, is designed to help managers learn how to let people go without causing a scene. If a manager is too blunt with Barry, he will put his head in his hands and sob. Other mistakes will cause him to start shouting. The article says that VR aids the learning process by enabling people to practice things that would otherwise be impossible, but that the usefulness depends on how convincing the characters are. Right now, they follow a script, so it may not seem particularly natural.

  • A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement - In a nationally representative sample of US students, researchers demonstrated that a one hour, online, lesson improved grades among lower-achieving students, and increased enrollment in advanced mathematics course. The purpose of the online lesson was to teach "the growth mind-set", or the idea that intellectual abilities can be developed. The lesson was delivered at the beginning of ninth grade, which the article says is an important time of transition, where many underperforming students see falling grades from which they will never recover. Students who don't finish high school on time are at risk of poverty, poor health, and early mortality. Reminds me of a quote from the Sensei at our karate dojo a few years ago: "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right." h/t Daniel Lemire

  • STEEM Visualizations in biology. Introduction (or Biologist as an Illustrator). + Original illustrations - In this post, @alexbiojs begins by discussing the importance of visualization for understanding complex concepts and generating new theories. The post also demonstrates the use of PyMol, an open source tool for molecular visualization and exploration, by displaying images of myoglobin, apo-aequorin, and Green fluorescent protein (GFP). Additionally, describing a video as "the pivotal moment for molecular animations," another demonstration is embedded with The Inner Life of the Cell animation, from a team at Harvard. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @alexbiojs.)


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