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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene by Richard Dawkins
Alfred Russel Wallace, assortative mating, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, epigenetics, Gödel, Escher, Bach, impulse control, Menlo Park, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, selection bias, stem cell
But I am a great believer in saying familiar, well-known things backwards and inside out, hoping that from some new vantage point the old facts will take on a deeper significance. It is like holding an abstract painting upside down; I do not say that the meaning of the picture will suddenly be clear, but some of the structure of the composition that was hidden may show itself’ (p. 1). I came across this after writing my own Necker Cube passage, and was delighted to find the same views expressed by so respected an author. The trouble with my Necker Cubes, and with Bonner’s abstract painting, is that, as analogies, they may be too timid and unambitious. The analogy of the Necker Cube expresses my minimum hope for this book. I am pretty confident that to look at life in terms of genetic replicators preserving themselves by means of their extended phenotypes is at least as satisfactory as to look at it in terms of selfish organisms maximizing their inclusive fitness.
The irony was not lost on me, but there are wheels within wheels. We agree that there is something special about the individual organism as a level in the hierarchy of life, but it is not something obvious, to be accepted without question. My hope is that this book has revealed that there is a second side to the Necker Cube. But Necker Cubes have a habit of flipping back again to their original orientation, and then continuing to alternate. Whatever it is that is special about the individual organism as a unit of life, we should at least see it more clearly for having viewed the other side of the Necker Cube, for having trained our eyes to see through body walls into the world of replicators, and out and beyond to their extended phenotypes. So, what is it that is special about the individual organism? Given that life can be viewed as consisting of replicators with their extended phenotypic tools of survival, why in practice have replicators chosen to group themselves together by the hundreds of thousands in cells, and why have they influenced those cells to clone themselves by the millions of billions in organisms?
Yet it is this hard-won fastness that I may seem to be abandoning here, abandoning almost before it is properly secured; and for what? For a flickering Necker Cube, a metaphysical chimera called the extended phenotype? No, to renounce those gains is far from my intention. The paradigm of the selfish organism is vastly preferable to what Hamilton (1977) has called ‘the old, departing paradigm of adaptation for the benefit of the species’. ‘Extended phenotype’ is misunderstood if it is taken to have any connection with adaptation at the level of the group. The selfish organism, and the selfish gene with its extended phenotype, are two views of the same Necker Cube. The reader will not experience the conceptual flip-over that I seek to assist unless he begins by looking at the right cube. This book is addressed to those that already accept the currently fashionable selfish-organism view of life, rather than any form of ‘group benefit’ view.
Machine Translation by Thierry Poibeau
AltaVista, augmented reality, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, crowdsourcing, easy for humans, difficult for computers, en.wikipedia.org, Google Glasses, information retrieval, Internet of things, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, natural language processing, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, RAND corporation, Robert Mercer, Skype, speech recognition, statistical model, technological singularity, Turing test, wikimedia commons
It is highly doubtful that all possibilities are considered in order to obtain a semantic representation of a sentence. Thanks to the communication context, the brain probably directly activates the “right” meaning, without even considering alternate solutions. A parallel has sometimes been proposed with the Necker cube, the representation of a cube seen in perspective with no depth cue (figure 1). Figure 1 The Necker cube, the famous optical illusion published by Louis Albert Necker in 1832. (Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Necker_cube.svg.) The drawing is “ambiguous” in that no cue makes it possible to determine which side of the cube is in front and which side is at the back. However, it was noticed by Necker (and others before him) that humans naturally select one of the representations so that it makes sense and is coherent with the image of a cube in nature.
ISBN: 978-0-262-53421-5 eISBN 9780262342438 ePub Version 1.0 Table of Contents Series page Title page Copyright page Series Foreword Acknowledgments 1 Introduction 2 The Trouble with Translation 3 A Quick Overview of the Evolution of Machine Translation 4 Before the Advent of Computers… 5 The Beginnings of Machine Translation: The First Rule-Based Systems 6 The 1966 ALPAC Report and Its Consequences 7 Parallel Corpora and Sentence Alignment 8 Example-Based Machine Translation 9 Statistical Machine Translation and Word Alignment 10 Segment-Based Machine Translation 11 Challenges and Limitations of Statistical Machine Translation 12 Deep Learning Machine Translation 13 The Evaluation of Machine Translation Systems 14 The Machine Translation Industry: Between Professional and Mass-Market Applications 15 Conclusion: The Future of Machine Translation Glossary Bibliography and Further Reading Index About Author List of Tables Table 1 Example of possible translations in French for the English word “motion” List of Illustrations Figure 1 The Necker cube, the famous optical illusion published by Louis Albert Necker in 1832. (Image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Necker_cube.svg.) Figure 2 Vauquois’ triangle (image licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, via WikiMedia Commons). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Direct_translation_and_transfer_translation_pyramind.svg. Figure 3 An extract from the Hansard corpus aligned at sentence level. Figure 4 Two texts of different length.
Learning is hierarchical, since it starts with basic elements (pixels in the case of an image, characters or words in the case of a language) in order to identify more complex structures (segments or lines in an image; sequences of words or phrases in the case of a language) until it obtains an overall analysis of the object to be analyzed (a form, a sentence). An analogy is often drawn with human perception: on the one hand, the brain analyzes groups of simple items very rapidly in order to identify higher-level characteristics, and on the other hand, it recognizes complex forms from characteristic features, and can even extrapolate a complex representation from partial information (this is essentially what happens in the case of the Necker cube, where the brain infers a three-dimensional representation from a two-dimensional drawing; see figure 1 in chapter 2). In the case of machine translation, deep learning makes it possible to envision systems where very few elements are specified manually, the idea being to let the system infer by itself the best representation from the data. This was, in a way, already the idea with purely statistical models, but we have seen that in fact many parameters had to be adjusted manually.
Time Paradox by Philip G. Zimbardo, John Boyd
Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, Drosophila, endowment effect, hedonic treadmill, impulse control, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, twin studies
Definers were able to set the standards for talent, and not coincidentally, they were more likely to meet the standards they set. One of the reasons why most of us think of ourselves as talented, friendly, wise, and fair-minded is that these words are the lexical equivalents of a Necker cube, and the human mind naturally exploits each word’s ambiguity for its own gratification. Disambiguating Experience Of course, the richest sources of exploitable ambiguity are not words, sentences, or shapes but the intricate, variegated, multidimensional experiences of which every human life is a collage. If a Necker cube has two possible interpretations and talent has fourteen possible interpretations, then leaving home or falling ill or getting a job with the U.S. Postal Service has hundreds or thousands of possible interpretations. The things that happen to us—getting married, raising a child, finding a job, resigning from Congress, going to prison, becoming paralyzed—are much more complex than an inky squiggle or a colored cube, and that complexity creates loads of ambiguity that just begs to be exploited.
How can they be disappointed when we accomplish our coveted goals, and why are they so damned giddy when they end up in precisely the spot that we worked so hard to steer them clear of? Is there something wrong with them? Or is there something wrong with us? WHEN I WAS TEN YEARS OLD, the most magical object in my house was a book on optical illusions. Its pages introduced me to the Müller-Lyer lines whose arrow-tipped ends made them appear as though they were different lengths even though a ruler showed them to be identical, the Necker cube that appeared to have an open side one moment and then an open top the next, the drawing of a chalice that suddenly became a pair of silhouetted faces before flickering back into a chalice again (see figure 1). I would sit on the floor in my father’s study and stare at that book for hours, mesmerized by the fact that these simple drawings could force my brain to believe things that it knew with utter certainty to be wrong.
Unlike rats and pigeons, then, we respond to meanings—and context, frequency, and recency are three of the factors that determine which meaning we will infer when we encounter an ambiguous stimulus. But there is another factor of equal importance and greater interest. Like rats and pigeons, each of us has desires, wishes, and needs. We are not merely spectators of the world but investors in it, and we often prefer that an ambiguous stimulus mean one thing rather than another. Consider, for example, the drawing of a box in figure 18. This object (called the Necker cube after the Swiss crystallographer who discovered it in 1832) is inherently ambiguous, and you can prove this to yourself simply by staring at it for a few seconds. At first, the box appears to be sitting on its side and you have the sense that you’re looking out at a box that is across from you. The dot is inside the box, at the place where the back panel and the bottom panel meet. But if you stare long enough, the drawing suddenly shifts, the box appears to be standing on its end, and you have the sense that you’re looking down on a box that is below you.
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern
“The eye,” he wrote, “is the most fertile source of mental illusions . . . the principal seat of the supernatural.” Since Brewster’s time, entire books—some targeted at seven-year-olds, others at neuroscientists—have cataloged a vast menagerie of optical illusions. Consider the two famous visual tricks, the Kanizsa triangle and the Necker cube. Left: Kanizsa triangle; Right: Necker cube In each case, the eye detects something that is quite literally not there: a white triangle and a three-dimensional box. In each case, it is almost impossible to un-see the illusion. The Necker cube can be visually flipped between two different three-dimensional orientations, but most of us can’t perceive it as it actually is: twelve intersecting lines lying on a two-dimensional surface. The mind’s eye conjures up a perception of depth that empirically does not exist.
A number of automaton designers in the eighteenth century attempted to create a “speaking machine”—a robotic human head that could utter words and sentences through artificial means, following on the principles of Vaucanson’s automated flute player. But the human ear is not easily fooled by speech simulations: even today, with all of our computational power, a child can tell the difference between Siri and a human voice. And the other senses—touch, smell, taste—are even less prone to being tricked the way our eyes are tricked by the Necker cube. A handful of tactile illusions exist; with taste, the closest equivalent might well be the way chili peppers trick our brains into perceiving heat. But if you want to deceive the senses of another human being, your best bet is to do it through their eyes. There is something paradoxical about this vulnerability. The human sense of sight is generally considered to be the most developed of our senses.
In a sense, the brain has evolved a series of cheats that enable it to detect things like edges or motion or three-dimensional relationships between objects, filling in missing information on the fly. You can think of these as the rules of thumb that govern our sense of sight. For instance, when our eyes perceive two lines coinciding in a flat image, our brain assumes those lines intersect in three-dimensional space. (The Necker cube relies on this rule to create the sense of depth in the image.) Millions of years of evolution created rules for interpreting visual information, helping the eye evaluate and predict the physical arrangement and motion of objects that it perceives. But through hundreds of years of cultural evolution, we began discovering unusual configurations that would confound those predictions, forcing the eye to see something that wasn’t, technically speaking, there.
What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus Du Sautoy
Albert Michelson, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, banking crisis, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Black Swan, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Georg Cantor, Hans Lippershey, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, Turing test, wikimedia commons
But it is striking that your brain can switch between one conscious perception and another without any change in the external input. My favourite example of this change in consciousness is the brain’s reaction to a sketch of my casino dice. What do you see? At first it appears to be a cube with one square to the fore. But then, as you stare at it, suddenly the cube flips and it seems as if another square is to the fore. Called the Necker cube, the image hasn’t changed but what you are conscious of has. What has happened in the brain? Is consciousness really just a story that your brain tells about the sensory input it receives through the body’s interaction with the world? Another striking example of how the brain processes visual data in surprising ways was shown to me by neuroscientist Christof Koch. Koch is one of the leading lights in the modern investigation into consciousness.
So can we use our new neural telescopes to see what happens when our brain becomes conscious of one thing or another? According to Koch’s research, it appears that the retinal nerves are not sending different information, so the change in our conscious experience is happening further down the line in the brain. The trouble is that the fMRI and EEG scanners are too crude to pick up changes as subtle as the flip from one view of the Necker cube to the other. But in 2004 Koch, together with his team at Caltech, spotted an opportunity to ask an individual neuron questions about what stimulated it to fire, which led to the discovery of some curious neuronal activity. THE JENNIFER ANISTON NEURON Epileptic seizures can be caused by a miswiring or scar tissue that is responsible for triggering the synchronized firing of neurons across the brain, a bit like the chain reaction of an atomic bomb going off in the head.
Very often vision trumps sound when it comes to integrating the different senses. In contrast to the man in the monkey suit, even when you know what is going on it is very difficult to make your brain hear ‘Ba’ as you watch the mouth make the sound of ‘Fa’. The brain is a pattern searcher and is trying to impose structure on the cacophony of information it is being bombarded with. When the information is ambiguous, as in the example of the Necker cube or the McGurk effect, the brain has to choose. These illusions are a warning to all of us trying to know things about our universe. We have no privileged access to reality. Our interaction with our environment is constructed from the information our brains receive, and we build a plausible representation of the external world. This mixing of the senses has some very strange implications for the location of our consciousness.
The Eureka Factor by John Kounios
active measures, Albert Einstein, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flynn Effect, functional fixedness, Google Hangouts, impulse control, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, William of Occam
Consider the cube on the left side of figure 1.1. This is a Necker cube. The interesting thing about it is that its appearance is ambiguous. As you can see in the right side of the figure, either the lower square or the higher square of this transparent cube could be viewed as closer to you. With a shift of attention, you can see it in either of these two ways. But you can’t see it in both ways simultaneously because the two interpretations are incompatible: a single face of the cube can’t be both closer to you and farther from you at the same time. And when you shift your attention from one of these squares to the other, the change in your interpretation is abrupt. This kind of perspective shift is a prototype for insight. FIGURE 1.1: The Necker cube. Wikicommons (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Necker%27s_cube.svg) The Gestalt psychologists of the early twentieth century liked to point out that we can interpret almost any type of object, situation, or event in more than one way.
In fact, cognitive psychologists sometimes use the “brick test” as a way to measure creativity: The more frequently you can shift your perspective, the more uses you will be able to think of for a common object such as a brick, and thus the more creative you are considered to be. According to the Gestalt psychologists, when you get stuck while trying to solve a problem it’s often because you are thinking about the problem in the wrong way. Just as a simple visual scene such as a Necker cube can be radically reinterpreted in an instant, so can a complex problem be “restructured,” yielding an aha moment about the solution. An object that was previously used for one purpose can now be thought of as a tool to perform some other kind of task; a threat can now be regarded as an opportunity; a relationship with another person can be redefined from competitor to collaborator. Before Orville and Wilbur Wright’s invention of the airplane, the established conception of how powered flight would work was that propellers would produce horizontal thrust by cutting through the air like blades while wings with curved surfaces would provide the airplane with the necessary upward lift.
A Theory of the Drone by Gregoire Chamayou
The reflections of the American philosopher Daniel Dennett may provide a starting point: “The workers in laboratories and plants who handle dangerous materials by operating feedback-controlled mechanical arms and hands undergo a shift in point of view that is crisper and more pronounced than anything Cinerama can provoke. They can feel the heft and slipperiness of the containers they manipulate with their metal fingers. They know perfectly well where they are and are not fooled into false beliefs by the experience, yet it is as if they were inside the isolation chamber they are peering into. With mental effort, they can manage to shift their point of view back and forth rather like making a transparent Necker cube or an Escher drawing change orientation before one’s eyes. It does seem extravagant to suppose that in performing this bit of mental gymnastics, they are transporting themselves back and forth.” Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?” in Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester, 1978), 315. By focusing his attention on the movements of the mechanical arm, the operator can to some extent adopt the point of view of the machine that makes the operation work, and think of himself as if he himself is over there, at work.
So his experience is not that of a deceit or of a false belief induced by the sensory illusion. And yet it is “as if” he was in the place where the operations are unfolding. It is this “as if” feeling that needs to be clarified. It is an “as if” that is not like a belief, but neither is it an illusion. Dennett’s final analogy is a subtle one: the examples that he provides are very specific cases of paradoxical objects. When one concentrates on a Necker cube one can see it now from the front, now from the back, as its back surfaces become its front ones and vice versa, depending on whether one shifts them mentally to the front or to the back. What matters in this analogy with a tele-operator’s experience is not the idea of an interpretative indecidability so much as that of a variation of the objective configuration of the phenomenon as regards the mental focalizing of the subject.
It is a problem that dogs ergonomists who work on the design of interfaces and the psychologists who study the work of tele-operators and how to maintain focal attention for long hours at a time or, as they themselves put it, how to facilitate and maintain the tele-operators’ ” situational consciousness,” which is always fragile: it involves concentrating on one environment even as one is perceiving two; this is a matter of attention and of focusing mentally on one particular point of view. In the case of the Necker cube, you do not see both images at the same time. As soon as you see one, the other disappears. There is a strict alternative here: the one effaces the other. The shift in the point of view is total. But in the case of a tele-operator, although there is a shift between a focal consciousness and a subsidiary consciousness, the problem is that the one continues surreptitiously to feed off the other, for that provides the immediate framework within which the latter is held.
Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley
Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game
Richard suggested that his move backwards and forwards between the language of gene intentions and the more orthodox language of genetic differences was acceptable because they are simply alternative ways of describing the same thing. To make his point, he described perception of the Necker Cube. The front edges of the line drawing of the cube suddenly flip to the back as we look at them. The lines representing the edges of a cube can be seen as though either the top corner of the cube is facing forwards or it is facing away. Each perceived image of the cube is as real as the other and Richard suggests that, in similar ways, the different pictures of the gene translate backwards and forwards into the other. Both perceptions are equally valid. At first the Necker Cube analogy seems appealing, but it is not exact because the bodies of thought and evidence on which perceptions are based are different for the two ways in which Richard uses ‘gene’.
I was not claiming that all the necessary conditions for development could be treated as ‘replicators’ in biological evolution. Nor was I making the vacuous statement that development is complicated. The central point of that passage in my review of The Selfish Gene was to do with the kind of slippage that can occur when language is used loosely. I suspect that Richard believes that he has never been guilty of such slippage for he used the simile of the Necker Cube to refer to the ways it might be possible to move from one type of discourse to another. However, even as clear a thinker as Richard sometimes marches into a linguistic quagmire that causes so much confusion in the minds of others. Richard is aware that he uses ‘gene’ in distinctly different ways. For population geneticists, a genetic difference is identified by means of a biochemical, physiological, structural, or behavioural difference between organisms (after other potential sources of difference have been excluded by appropriate procedures).
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K
Hume’s strange inversion of reasoning A red stripe as an intentional object What is Cartesian gravity and why does it persist? 15.The Age of Post-Intelligent Design What are the limits of our comprehension? “Look Ma, no hands!” The structure of an intelligent agent What will happen to us? Home at last Appendix: The Background References Index LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Figure 1.1: Duck-rabbit Figure 1.2: Necker cube Figure 3.1: Kessler and Werner, stone circles Figure 3.2: Kessler and Werner’s stone-sorting algorithm at work Figure 4.1: Elevator operator manual page Figure 5.1: Clam rake Figure 7.1: Darwinian space Figure 7.2: Darwinian space with other dimensions Figure 7.3: Darwinian space for origin of life Figure 7.4: Darwinian space with religions Figure 7.5: Inverted Darwinian space with Darwinian phenomena at (0,0,0) and intelligent design at (1,1,1) Figure 9.2: Glossogenetic tree of all languages Figure 9.3: Selfridge’s automatic CAT Figure 13.1: Darwinian space Figure 13.2: Darwinian space of cultural evolution with intermediate phenomena Color insert following page 238 Figure 3.3: Australian termite castle Figure 3.4: Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia Figure 9.1: The Great Tree of Life Figure 12.1: Claidière et al., random patterns evolve into memorable tetrominos Figure 14.1: Complementary color afterimage PREFACE I started trying to think seriously about the evolution of the human mind when I was a graduate student in philosophy in Oxford in 1963 and knew almost nothing about either evolution or the human mind.
Cartesian gravity is all but irresistible when you get that close to the surface of Planet Descartes. How did she get there, and what happened in that confusing last-minute inversion? (Strange inversions will be a major theme in this book.) There seem to be two competing orientations, the first-person point of view of the Defenders and the third-person point of view of the scientists, much like the two ways of seeing the philosophers’ favorite illusions, the duck-rabbit and the Necker cube. You can’t adopt both orientations at once. The problem posed by Cartesian gravity is sometimes called the Explanatory Gap (Levine 1983) but the discussions under that name strike me as largely fruitless because the participants tend to see it as a chasm, not a glitch in their imaginations. They may have discovered the “gap,” but they don’t see it for what it actually is because they haven’t asked “how it got that way.”
(What this means will gradually become clear, I hope—and then we can set this metaphorical way of speaking aside, as a ladder we have climbed and no longer need to rely on.) The idea of Cartesian gravity, as so far presented, is just a metaphor, but the phenomenon I am calling by this metaphorical name is perfectly real, a disruptive force that bedevils (and sometimes aids) our imaginations, and unlike the gravity of physics, it is itself an evolved phenomenon. In order to understand it, we need to ask how and why it arose on planet Earth. FIGURE 1.2: Necker cube. It will take several passes over the same history, with different details highlighted each time, to answer this question. We tend to underestimate the strength of the forces that distort our imaginations, especially when confronted by irreconcilable insights that are “undeniable.” It is not that we can’t deny them; it is that we won’t deny them, won’t even try to deny them. Practicing on the forces that are easy to identify—species chauvinism, human exceptionalism, sexism—prepares us to recognize more subtle forces at work.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Rather than propose a new theory or unearth a new fact, often the most important contribution a scientist can make is to discover a new way of seeing old theories or facts. The Necker cube model is misleading because it suggests that the two ways of seeing are equally good. To be sure, the metaphor gets it partly right: 'angles', unlike theories, cannot be judged by experiment; we cannot resort to our familiar criteria of verification and falsification. But a change of vision can, at its best, achieve something loftier than a theory. It can usher in a whole climate of thinking, in which many exciting and testable theories are born, and unimagined facts laid bare. The Necker cube metaphor misses this completely. It captures the idea of a flip in vision, but fails to do justice to its value. What we are talking about is not a flip to an equivalent view but, in extreme cases, a transfiguration.
The selfish gene theory is Darwin's theory, expressed in a way that Darwin did not choose but whose aptness, I should like to think, he would instantly have recognized and delighted in. It is in fact a logical outgrowth of orthodox neo-Darwinism, but expressed as a novel image. Rather than focus on the individual organism, it takes a gene's-eye view of nature. It is a different way of seeing, not a different theory. In the opening pages of The Extended Phenotype, I explained this using the metaphor of the Necker cube. This is a two-dimensional pattern of ink on paper, but it is perceived as a transparent, three-dimensional cube. Stare at it for a few seconds and it will change to face in a different direction. Carry on staring and it will flip back to the original cube. Both cubes are equally compatible with the two-dimensional data on the retina, so the brain happily alternates between them. Neither is more correct than the other.
How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, lateral thinking, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra
Does the program do anything else reminiscent of humans? Remember how the fanfold flips in depth like a Necker cube. The outer fold becomes an inner one, and vice versa. The program, in a way, can see the flip, too; the flipped interpretation is shown in the bottom row. The program assigned the same costs to the two interpretations and arrived at one or the other randomly. When people see a 3-D shape flip, they usually see the direction of the light source flip, too: top fold out, light from above; bottom fold out, light from below. The program does the same. Unlike a person, the program does not actually flip between the two interpretations, but if Adelson and Pentland had had the specialists pass around their guesses in a constraint network (like the Necker cube network on p. 107 or the stereo vision model), rather than in an assembly line, it might have done so.
A good metaphor is a soap bubble that wobbles in eggy and amoeboid shapes as the tugs among its neighboring molecules pull it into a sphere. Sometimes a constraint network can have mutually inconsistent but equally stable states. That captures the phenomenon of global ambiguity, in which an entire object, not just its parts, can be interpreted in two ways. If you stare at the drawing of a cube on page 107 (called a Necker cube), your perception will flip from a downward view of its top face to an upward view of its bottom face. When the global flip occurs, the interpretations of all of the local parts are dragged with it. Every near edge becomes a far edge, every convex corner becomes a concave corner, and so on. Or vice versa: if you try to see a convex corner as concave, you can sometimes nudge the whole cube into flipping.
What the assumption rules out is a world made up of dust storms, swarms of gnats, fine wires, deep crevasses between craggy peaks, beds of nails viewed point-on, and so on. The assumptions sound reasonable in the abstract, but something still has to find the matches that satisfy them. Chicken-and-egg problems can sometimes be solved with the technique called constraint satisfaction that we met in Chapter 2 when looking at Necker cubes and accented speech. When the parts of a puzzle cannot be solved one at a time, the puzzle-solver can keep in mind several guesses for each one, compare the guesses for the different parts of the puzzle, and see which ones are mutually consistent. A good analogy is working on a crossword puzzle with a pencil and an eraser. Often a clue for a horizontal word is so vague that several words can be penciled in, and a clue for a vertical word is so vague that several words can be penciled in.
Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law
The British psychologist Richard Gregory has paid special attention to visual illusions as a means of studying how the brain works. In his book Eye and Brain (fifth edition 1998), he regards seeing as an active process in which the brain sets up hypotheses about what is going on out there, then tests those hypotheses against the data coming in from the sense organs. One of the most familiar of all visual illusions is the Necker cube. This is a simple line drawing of a hollow cube, like a cube made of steel rods. The drawing is a two-dimensional pattern of ink on paper. Yet a normal human sees it as a cube. The brain has made a three-dimensional model based upon the two-dimensional pattern on the paper. This is, indeed, the kind of thing the brain does almost every time you look at a picture. The flat pattern of ink on paper is equally compatible with two alternative three-dimensional brain models.
Our brain constructs a three-dimensional model. It is virtual reality in the head. When we are looking at an actual wooden box, our simulation software is provided with additional information, which enables it to arrive at a clear preference for one of the two internal models. We therefore see the box in one way only, and there is no alternation. But this does not diminish the truth of the general lesson we learn from the Necker cube. Whenever we look at anything, there is a sense in which what our brain actually makes use of is a model of that thing in the brain. The model in the brain, like the virtual Parthenon of my earlier example, is constructed. But, unlike the Parthenon (and perhaps the visions we see in dreams), it is, like the surgeon's computer model of the inside of her patient, not entirely invented: it is constrained by information fed in from the outside world.
A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method
If this is the only piece of scientific history you know, you might indeed conclude that all apparent truths are mere approximations, fated to be superseded. There is even a quite interesting sense in which all our sensory perceptions – the ‘real’ things that we ‘see with our own eyes’ – may be regarded as unfalsified ‘hypotheses’ about the world, vulnerable to change. This provides a good way to think about illusions such as the Necker Cube. The flat pattern of ink on paper is compatible with two alternative ‘hypotheses’ of solidity. So we see a solid cube which, after a few seconds, ‘flips’ to a different cube, then flips back to the first cube, and so on. Perhaps sense data only ever confirm or reject mental ‘hypotheses’ about what is out there.16 Well, that is an interesting theory; so is the philosopher’s notion that science proceeds by conjecture and refutation; and so is the analogy between the two.
., (i), (ii), (iii) Medawar, Peter, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii), (ix), (x), (xi) Melchett, Lord, (i) Meme, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v)f, (vi) Analogy with computer virus, (i), (ii), (iii) Analogy with gene, (i) As Darwinian replicator, (i) Complex, Coadapted, see Memeplex Fidelity in transmission of, (i) Longitudinal and horizontal transmission of, (i), (ii) Natural selection of, (i) Not digital, (i) Oxford Dictionary definition of, (i) Meme Machine, The, (i), (ii) Memeplex, (i), (ii) (see also Religion) Memetics, (i), (ii), (iii) Mendel, Gregor, (i), (ii), (iii) Mendelism, (i), (ii) Middle Eastern politics, (i) Migration, Evidence in genes of, (i) Migratory mixing, (i) Miliband, David, (i) Mill, John Stuart, (i) Miller, Geoffrey, (i) Miller, Jonathan, (i) Mind As seeker after pattern, (i) Darwin’s materialistic view of, (i), (ii) Discontinuous, (i) Limitations of, (i) Meme hypothesis of, (i) Parasites, see Meme, Memeplex, Religion, Virus of the mind Symptoms of infection, (i) Miracle stories, (i) Missing link, (i), (ii) Modern Synthesis, see Neo-Darwinisn Molecular biology, see Genetics, Molecular Molecular clock, (i), (ii), (iii) Monotheism, (i) Montgomery of Alamein, Viscount, (i) Moore’s Law, (i) Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, (i) Multicellularity, (i) Mutations As movement through genetic space, (i) Complex effect on developmental processes, (i) Frame-shift, (i) Macromutations, (i) Neutral, (i), (ii), (iii) Provide genetic variation, (i) Random nature of, (i), (ii) Rate of, (i) Myhrvold, Nathan, (i) Mystery As better unsolved, (i) Of the Transubstantiation, (i), (ii), (iii) Of the Trinity, (i) Mysticism, (i) Narrow Roads of Gene Land, (i), (ii) Natural Selection Contributes information to gene pool, (i) Distinct from sexual selection, (i) Female preference subject to, (i) Hoyle’s misunderstanding of, (i), (ii), (iii) Influences evolution only when acting on replicators, (i) Meme-based, (i) Neutral mutations hidden from, (i) Nature/nurture cliché, (i) Necker Cube, (i) Nematode worm, see Caenorhabditis elegans Neo-Darwinism, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii), (ix) Neoteny, (i) Neutral Theory, (i), (ii) New Age, (i), (ii), (iii) Newton, Isaac, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv)f, (v) Newton, Patricia, (i) Nicholls, Kate, (i) Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, (i) Northern Ireland, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Norton-Griffiths, Michael and Annie, (i), (ii) Nucleotide sequence, (i) Oncogene, (i) Orchid, (i) Origin of Species, On the, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Orrorin, (i) Orthogenesis, (i) Oundle School, (i) Palumbi, Stephen, (i), (ii) Parasite DNA, (i), (ii) Lineages favour decreased complexity, (i), (ii), (iii) Of the mind, (i), (ii) (see also Meme, Religion) Resistance to, (i) Software, (i) Theory of sex, (i) Parental expenditure/investment, (i), (ii) Patai, Daphne, (i) Pater, Walter, (i) Patriotism, Mindless, (i) Peacocks’ tails, (i) (see also Sexual selection) Phenotype, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) Phylogenetic tree, (i), (ii) Physics Envy, (i) Picasso, Pablo, (i) Pierce, Naomi, (i) Piezoelectric effect, (i) Piltdown hoax, (i) Pinker, Steven, (i) Pius XII, (i) Placenta, As clone of baby, (i), (ii) Planck, Max, (i) Pluto’s Republic, (i), (ii), (iii) Pope’s message on evolution, (i) Popper, Karl, (i), (ii) Postmodernism, Meaning of, (i) Postmodernism Disrobed, (i), (ii), (iii) Postmodernism Generator, (i) Preformationism, (i) Pringle, J.
Ajax: The Definitive Guide by Anthony T. Holdener
AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, business process, centre right, create, read, update, delete, database schema, David Heinemeier Hansson, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, full text search, game design, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, information retrieval, loose coupling, MVC pattern, Necker cube, p-value, Ruby on Rails, slashdot, sorting algorithm, web application
This phenomenon is a visual perception characterized by unpredictable changes in how the brain spontaneously views patterns that can be considered ambiguous. Probably the most famous pattern is the Necker cube (http://www. hypnosisnetwork.com/articles/a/76/The-Necker-Cube:-An-Experiment-in-Perception)— a line drawing of a cube that does not give any visual cue as to which lines are in front of the others when they cross. The brain prefers to see patterns and images in certain ways based on experiences in life—people view objects from above and not below, light sources come from above and not below, and so on. The unpredictable changes occur the longer a pattern is viewed. As you look at the Necker cube, suddenly your brain will pick up that you could view the cube from below. Many examples of this illusion exist, and they are part of what is known as the Gestalt effect.
The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley
"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, altcoin, anthropic principle, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Corn Laws, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, Donald Davies, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, endogenous growth, epigenetics, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, falling living standards, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, George Santayana, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hydraulic fracturing, imperial preference, income per capita, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, land reform, Lao Tzu, long peace, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Necker cube, obamacare, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, price mechanism, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, smart contracts, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, twin studies, uber lyft, women in the workforce
Yet Crick’s ambitious aim, as one of the two people who had stumbled upon the secret of life when he and James Watson found the self-copying code of DNA, was to find the seat of consciousness. He wanted to pin down the very structures in the brain that manifested the phenomenon of conscious, as opposed to unconscious, perception. For example, when you see an optical illusion of the kind that flips between one perception and another, such as a Necker cube, there must be some neural change as the flip happens. Where does that neural change occur? Crick never found the answer. On his deathbed in 2004 he was correcting a paper on a structure called the claustrum, which is an especially well-connected sliver of brain tissue that’s hard to experiment on, because it’s so essential. But perhaps even he was still thinking in overly top–down terms. Perhaps consciousness is far too distributed among the neurons ever to be found.
239 Morris, William 248 Moses 263, 264 Mosley, Oswald 251 Mountain Meadow massacre (1857)89 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 85 Muir, Thomas 244 Mumbai 92 Murphy, Archibald 176 Muslims 52, 89, 263 Mussolini, Benito 251, 252 Myrdal, Gunman 230 Nakamoto, Dorian Satoshi 309 Napoleon Bonaparte 101, 175, 216, 280 Napoleon III 247 Nation 250 National Health Service (NHS) 116 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 161 National Mortgage Corporation 287 Natural Theology 25 Nazis 175, 196, 198, 201, 202–3, 253,318 Neanderthals 82, 83 Necker cube 145 ‘Negro Project’ (1939) 201 Nelson, Richard 137, 138 neo-Malthusians 209 Neptune 120–1 New Deal 251, 290 New Delhi 185 New Guinea 80, 81 New Jersey 121 New Statesman 315 New York 92, 121, 167, 176 New York Times 291 New Zealand 32, 177 Newcastle University 181 Newcastle upon Tyne 91, 119 Newcomen, Thomas 1–2 Newton, Isaac 13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 23, 41, 51, 120, 215; Opticks 13 Niccolò Niccoli 12 Nietzsche, Friedrich 8 Nigeria 181 Nobel Prize 122, 230, 273 Nock, Albert Jay 240 Norberg, Johan 284 North Korea 32, 101, 102, 114 North of Scotland Bank 281 Norway 32, 247 Not in Our Genes (Lewontin, Rose & Kamin) 157 The Not So Wild, Wild West (Anderson & Hill) 236 NotHaus, Bernard von 309 Noyce, Robert 223 Nuremberg laws 198 Obama, Barack 219–20, 300 Odyssey 87 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) 139 Of Pandas and People (Kenyon et al.) 50 Office of Population 206 Ogburn, William 127–8 O’Grady, Selina, Man Created God 256, 257 Ohno, Susumu 69–70, 71 Oktar, Adnan (Harun Yahya) 52 Opium Wars 233, 245 Oppenheimer, Robert 119 Orgel, Leslie 67 Orszag, Jonathan 292 Orszag, Peter 292 Orwell, George 300 Osborn, Frederick 204 Osborn, Henry Fairfield 200, 204, 205; Our Plundered Planet 203–4 Otteson, James 23, 24, 26, 27 Overton, Richard 242 Paddock, William, Famine 1975!
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
affirmative action, Black Swan, cognitive bias, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, invisible hand, lateral thinking, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Necker cube, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, social web, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, ultimatum game
There are even times when we change our minds on our own, with no help from other people. Sometimes we have conflicting intuitions about something, as many people do about abortion and other controversial issues. Depending on which victim, which argument, or which friend you are thinking about at a given moment, your judgment may flip back and forth as if you were looking at a Necker cube (figure 3.1). FIGURE 3.1. A Necker cube, which your visual system can read in two conflicting ways, although not at the same time. Similarly, some moral dilemmas can be read by your righteous mind in two conflicting ways, but it’s hard to feel both intuitions at the same time. And finally, it is possible for people simply to reason their way to a moral conclusion that contradicts their initial intuitive judgment, although I believe this process is rare.
Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins
agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Boris Johnson, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Google Earth, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, Necker cube, nuclear winter, out of africa, p-value, phenotype, place-making, placebo effect, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, twin studies
Not silly if you mean something like an overwhelming sense of subjective, personal identity. Each one of us knows we possess it even if, as many modern thinkers aver, it is an illusion – an illusion constructed, as Darwinians might speculate, because a coherent agency of singular purpose helps us to survive. Visual illusions such as the Necker Cube— —or the Penrose Impossible Triangle— —or the Hollow Mask illusion demonstrate that the ‘reality’ we see consists of constrained models constructed in the brain. The Necker Cube’s two-dimensional pattern of lines on paper is compatible with two alternative constructions of a three-dimensional cube, and the brain adopts the two models in turn: the alternation is palpable and its frequency can even be measured. The Penrose Triangle’s lines on paper are incompatible with any real-world object.
On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee
airport security, Albert Einstein, computer age, conceptual framework, Johannes Kepler, Necker cube, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Turing test
If the match fits the local region, predictions are passed down the cortical hierarchy in quick succession to all lower regions. If this is a correct interpretation of the stimulus, then each region of the hierarchy will settle on a correct prediction in rapid succession. The same effect should occur while viewing an image with two interpretations, such as a silhouette of a vase that can look like two faces or a Necker cube (an image of a cube that alternately appears in two different orientations). Every time the percept of such an image changes we should see a propagation of new predictions flow down the hierarchy. At the lowest levels, say V1, a column representing a line segment of the image should stay active in either perception of the image (assuming the eyes haven't moved). However, we might see some cells in that column swap active states.
The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, computer age, Donald Trump, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, hedonic treadmill, Henri Poincaré, Lao Tzu, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Schrödinger's Cat, social intelligence, social web, source of truth, stem cell, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind
Thomas) Fig. 2.4 Emergence of the Gestalt Fig. 2.5 Split-brain subjects and sense of the whole (Gazzaniga & Le Doux, 1978) Fig. 2.6 Right hemisphere damage and loss of the sense of the whole (Hécaen & Ajuriaguerra, 1952) Fig. 2.7 Hemisphere differences and the whole (Nikolaenko, 2001) Fig. 2.8 Hemisphere differences and abstraction (Nikolaenko, 1997) Fig. 2.9 Hemisphere differences and visual depth (Nikolaenko, 1997) Fig. 2.10 Hemisphere differences: what we see v. what we know (Nikolaenko, 1997) Fig. 2.11 Cube drawing before and after commissurotomy (Gazzaniga & Le Doux, 1978) Fig. 2.12 Duck-rabbit (Popular Science Monthly, 1899) Fig. 2.13 Necker cube Fig. 4.1 Drawing Hands, by M. C. Escher Fig. 4.2 Pyramid of values according to Scheler Fig. 4.3 Creation of Man, by Michelangelo, fresco, 1511–12 (Vatican Museums and Galleries/Bridgeman Art Library) Fig. 9.1 Bishop blessing annual fair, from mediaeval pontifical vellum (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Lat 962 f.264/Bridgeman Art Library) Fig. 9.2 Ideal City, by Luciano Laurana, oil on panel, after 1470 (Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino/Bridgeman Art Library) Fig. 9.3 Sermon in the Hall of the Reformed Community of Stein near Nuremberg, attrib.
The right hemisphere is able to maintain ambiguous mental representations in the face of a tendency to premature over-interpretation by the left hemisphere.445 The right hemisphere’s tolerance of uncertainty is implied everywhere in its subtle ability to use metaphor, irony and humour, all of which depend on not prematurely resolving ambiguities. So, of course, does poetry, which relies on right-hemisphere language capacities. During ambiguous stimulation of perceptual rivalry (the phenomenon of an ambiguous figure that can be seen in one way or another, but not both simultaneously, such as the duck–rabbit above or the Necker cube opposite446) right frontal cortex is more active.447 Fig. 2.13 Is this a cube seen from above right, or from below left? Blurred or indistinct images are not a problem for the right hemisphere, but are for the left, even where the nature of the task would suggest that it should be more problematic for the right hemisphere.448 One of the most consistent early findings in hemisphere specialisation was that whenever an image is either only fleetingly presented, or presented in a degraded form, so that only partial information is available, a right-hemisphere superiority emerges – even when the material is verbal.449 In some subtle experimental work Justine Sergent was able to demonstrate this and its converse, namely that when images are presented for longer than usual, thus increasing their certainty and familiarity, a left-hemisphere superiority emerges, even when it comes to face recognition.
., 1996; Nebes, 1974; and, more generally, Drake & Bingham, 1985. 438. Schacter, Curran, Galluccio et al., 1996; Curran, Schacter, Norman et al., 1997. 439. Panksepp, 2003, p. 10. 440. Gazzaniga, 1998. 441. Gardner, Brownell, Wapner et al., 1983. 442. Wolford, Miller & Gazzaniga, 2000. 443. Unturbe & Corominas, 2007. 444. Yellott, 1969. 445. Goel, Tierney, Sheesley et al., 2007. 446. The Necker cube is attributed to a Swiss crystallographer, Louis Albert Necker, who in 1832 described the way in which the structure of crystals appeared to reverse spontaneously. Although the duck–rabbit was made famous by Wittgenstein, it was first discussed by the American psychologist, Joseph Jastrow (‘The mind’s eye’, Popular Science Monthly, 1899, 54, pp. 299–312), who in turn derived it from a German popular magazine called Fliegende Blätter (1892).
Physics in Mind: A Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein
Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, informal economy, information trail, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, Richard Feynman, stem cell, trade route, Turing machine
Milky Way, 15, 19 Miller, George, 219 Molecular demons, 26–28, 32 emergence of, 33 for fast information transmission, 36–41 See also specific type of molecular demon Molecular information, from quantum information into, 81–86 Molecular quantum information processing, and quantum computing, 249–263, 265–266, 267–269, 270, 274 Molecular sensing and the line from nose to cortex, 87–89 and mapping, coding, and synonymity, 90–92 numerous odor-information channels in, 89–90 and quantum synonymity, 97–98 and sensory synonymity, 92–95, 95–96, 98 Molecules and molecular systems, formation of, 18 (fig.), 236 See also Atomic nuclei; Atoms Monod, Jaques, 236 Monroe, Christopher, 253 Mountcastle, Vernon, 28 Multicelled organisms, formation of, 18 (fig.), 121, 127 Muons, 79, 100, 255 Mutations, 109–113, 115, 119 (fig.), 120 Neanderthals, 150n Necker cube, 231 Necker, Louis, 231n Negative entropy, 84–85, 134 Neumann, John von, 241 Neuron clusters (glomeruli), 88 (fig.), 89, 90 (fig.), 184 Neuron development, 133–134 Neuron network coding, 228–229 Neuron trellis, 133–134, 135, 142, 149, 150, 159, 224 Neuron web, 36, 142, 158, 167–168, 172, 190, 202, 207, 222, 224, 270, 272 Neuronal computing, 145–148, 185 See also Information processing Neuronal quantum computing, 270, 271–273 Neuronal virtual-reality generator, 142–143 Neurons evolutionary debut of, 131 and gestalt recognition, 196–197, 200 increasingly loaded with meaning, 195–196, 204, 205 logic-switch rate of, 185, 186, 229 Neutrinos, 16, 79–80, 99, 100, 157, 245, 255 Neutrons, 17, 80n, 262 Newton, Isaac, 2, 4, 9–10, 12–13, 67, 156, 160, 161, 207, 208 Nicholls, John, 281 Nitrogen, 94 (fig.), 95, 129, 153n Noise, 66, 81, 82, 83, 274 NOT gate, 257, 258, 260, 261 NOT operation, 61, 257 Nuclear-magnetic-resonance spectroscopy, 254, 255, 259, 260, 262, 263, 265, 266, 274 Nuclear resonance frequency, 255 Nucleus, atomic.
Halting State by Charles Stross
augmented reality, Boris Johnson, call centre, forensic accounting, game design, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, lifelogging, Necker cube, Potemkin village, RFID, Schrödinger's Cat, Vernor Vinge, zero day
There’s a crash and a cloud of dust and icy gravel showers down from the roof, almost blocking the doorway, and your stamina read-out begins to flash: At 20 per cent you’re in big trouble, medevac territory in a guild scenario, but there are no healers around right now. Never mind… You put the anti-tank rifle down and turn around. The ghastly altar is still there. It’s made of pale granite, and it seems to throb slightly as you look at it, as if it’s on the verge of turning inside out like a Necker cube: The hieroglyphs are as alien and incomprehensible as ever, but somehow horrible, bringing to mind echoes of alien anatomy, organs ripped from the abdominal cavities of human sacrifices, and other, hidden things. “Great,” you mutter. “Attention, object able charlie sixteen. This is your creator speaking. Give me a cookie and initiate debug mode.” The altar flashes emerald and turns inside out, injecting the stolen hoard straight into your character’s inventory.
50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon
1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, delayed gratification, fear of failure, feminist movement, global village, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lateral thinking, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Necker cube, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
– * * * In a nutshell Due to way the brain works, our predictions of how we will feel in the future are not always accurate, and that includes what will make us happy. In a similar vein Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice (p 248) Martin Seligman Authentic Happiness (p 254) * * * CHAPTER 21 Daniel Gilbert As a boy, Daniel Gilbert loved poring over a book of optical illusions, such as the Necker cube and the famous vase/faces picture (as on the cover of this book). What amazed him was how easy it was for the eyes and the brain to be fooled. When, many years later, he became a psychologist, he was interested in the regular mistakes and exercises of “filling in” that our brain makes in order to provide us with a quick picture of reality. Just as we could make predictable mistakes with our eyesight, he found, we could also with our foresight.
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Boris Johnson, Burning Man, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, collaborative consumption, East Village, fixed income, Google X / Alphabet X, housing crisis, inflight wifi, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Necker cube, obamacare, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zipcar
“I don’t think I made it into work the next day.” Like many high-tech entrepreneurs, Camp was peculiar. McCloskey noticed that he did not particularly care about the superficialities that absorbed other people. For example, he got his hair cut only sporadically, letting it grow down to his shoulders before having it cut short. He also liked to design his own T-shirts featuring symbols such as a Necker cube, a line drawing that can be perceived in different ways. Then he would wear them out to dinner at nice restaurants. “I have no idea where he got those things,” McCloskey says. “I was not thrilled by them.” He didn’t like to carry cash and would come home and absentmindedly stuff an unwieldy wad of bills into his dresser, then leave it there. Though Camp was a newly minted millionaire and McCloskey at the time was scraping by as a producer for the cable news network Current TV, “I was paying for everything,” she says.
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Albert Einstein, Bonfire of the Vanities, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, double helix, fear of failure, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Vilfredo Pareto
Neurophysiology and Flow Just as some people are born with better muscular coordination, it is possible that there are individuals with a genetic advantage in controlling consciousness. Such people might be less prone to suffer from attentional disorders, and they may experience flow more easily. Dr. Jean Hamilton’s research with visual perception and cortical activation patterns lends support to such a claim. One set of her evidence is based on a test in which subjects had to look at an ambiguous figure (a Necker cube, or an Escher-type illustration that at one point seems to be coming out of the plane of the paper toward the viewer and the next moment seems to recede behind the plane), and then perceptually “reverse” it—that is, see the figure that juts out of the surface as if it were sinking back, and vice versa. Dr. Hamilton found that students who reported less intrinsic motivation in daily life needed on the average to fix their eyes on more points before they could reverse the ambiguous figure, whereas students who on the whole found their lives more intrinsically rewarding needed to look at fewer points, or even only a single point, to reverse the same figure.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer
The human brain runs first-class simulation software. Our eyes don’t present to our brains a faithful photograph of what is out there, or an accurate movie of what is going on through time. Our brains construct a continuously updated model: updated by coded pulses chattering along the optic nerve, but constructed nevertheless. Optical illusions are vivid reminders of this.47 A major class of illusions, of which the Necker Cube is an example, arise because the sense data that the brain receives are compatible with two alternative models of reality. The brain, having no basis for choosing between them, alternates, and we experience a series of flips from one internal model to the other. The picture we are looking at appears, almost literally, to flip over and become something else. The simulation software in the brain is especially adept at constructing faces and voices.
Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
And there’s all these other worlds, but you can’t see them. That’s really suspicious. It just doesn’t seem scientific. If you got as far as Recovering_irrationalist—so that many-worlds now seems perfectly logical, obvious and normal—and you also started out as a Traditional Rationalist, then you should be able to switch back and forth between the Scientific view and the Bayesian view, like a Necker Cube. So now put on your Science Goggles—you’ve still got them around somewhere, right? Forget everything you know about Kolmogorov complexity, Solomonoff induction or Minimum Message Lengths. That’s not part of the traditional training. You just eyeball something to see how “simple” it looks. The word “testable” doesn’t conjure up a mental image of Bayes’s Theorem governing probability flows; it conjures up a mental image of being in a lab, performing an experiment, and having the celebration (or public recantation) afterward.