Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Many animal species transmit information via chemical signals, but the extent to which these chemosignals play a role in human communication is unclear. In a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Gün Semin and colleagues from Utrecht University in the Netherlands investigate whether we humans might actually be able to communicate our emotional states to each other through chemical signals. Existing research suggests that emotional expressions are multi-taskers, serving more than one function. Fear signals, for example, not only help to warn others about environmental danger, they are also associated with behaviors that confer a survival advantage through sensory acquisition. Research has shown that taking on a fearful expression (i.e., opening the eyes) leads us to breathe in more through our noses, enhances our perception, and accelerates our eye movements so that we can spot potentially dangerous targets more quickly. Disgust signals, on the other hand, warn others to avoid potentially noxious chemicals and are associated with sensory rejection, causing us to lower our eyebrows and wrinkle our noses. Semin and colleagues wanted to build on this research to examine the role of chemosignals in social communication. They hypothesized that chemicals in bodily secretions, such as sweat, would activate similar processes in both the sender and receiver, establishing an emotional synchrony of sorts. Specifically, people who inhaled chemosignals associated with fear would themselves make a fear expression and show signs of sensory acquisition, while people who inhaled chemosignals associated with disgust would make an expression of disgust and show signs of sensory rejection.

The knowing nose: Chemosignals communicate human emotions | Science Codex

Posted: July 23, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Carbon, Bacteria, and Fish Balls: The Machines of the Future

Today, microprocessors are built with silicon. But tomorrow, they’ll be built with something else. This past week, with a paper published in the academic journal Nature Communications, researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany and the Swedish research institute Acreo AB revealed a new means of building chips using graphene — a substance long hailed as the future of micro-electronics — and their work takes the material that much closer to fulfilling its potential. Graphene is essentially sheets of carbon measuring a single atom thick, and it can carry electric charges much faster than materials used in today’s chips. Its discovery won the Nobel Prize for two University of Manchester scientists, but we’re still a long way from seeing it in commercial processors. Though graphene is wonderfully adept at conducting electricity, it doesn’t work quite as well as a semiconductor — which is essential to building transistors — and it doesn’t easily connect to other parts of a chip. (via Carbon, Bacteria, and Fish Balls: The Machines of the Future | Wired Enterprise |

Posted: June 21, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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A new study proposes a communication routing strategy for the brain that mimics the American highway system, with the bulk of the traffic leaving the local and feeder neural pathways to spend as much time as possible on the longer, higher-capacity passages through an influential network of hubs, the “rich club.” The study by researchers from Indiana University and the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands advances their earlier findings that showed how select hubs in the brain not only are powerful in their own right but have numerous and strong connections between each other. The current study characterizes the influential network within the rich club as the “backbone” for global brain communication.

Highways of the brain: high-cost, high-capacity | KurzweilAI

Posted: May 11, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The iPad is by far the most adored tablet in the human world. The numbers speak for themselves. But what you may not know is that members of the animal kingdom dig the 9.7-inch tablet too — particularly a clan of six orangutans at the Miami Zoo. At the Miami Zoo’s Jungle Island, handlers are interacting with orangutans using the iPad. The apes use the tablet to identify items they’re familiar with, and express their wants and needs. This is done primarily through an app designed for autistic children that displays an array of object images onscreen. “We’ll ask them to identify ‘Where’s the coconut?’, and they’ll point it out,” Linda Jacobs, who oversees the Jungle Island program, told Wired. “We want to build from that and give them a choice in what they have for dinner — show them pictures of every vegetable we have available that day, and let them pick, giving them the opportunity to have choices.” Orangutans are very intelligent, but lack voice boxes and vocal cords, which can make communication difficult. Up until now, zoo keepers have been using sign language to communicate with them. Using the iPad gives the orangutans another form of communication with humans, provides them with mental stimulation, and also gives those who don’t know sign language a chance to interact with humans. (via Orangutans at Miami Zoo Use iPads to Communicate | Gadget Lab |

In a talk, “Building the #Knowosphere: How new ways to share and shape ideas can help build durable progress on a finite planet“ on Earth Day 2012 at MIT, New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin suggests how to use the Web and other emerging communication tools and networks to make the world a better place The notion of Knowosphere has roots in the early 20th century, and even as far back as Darwin. He also suggests reading Too Big To Know. The author, David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, says our task, in an age of networked intelligence is to learn how to build “smart rooms” in a talk.

Building the #Knowosphere | KurzweilAI

Posted: September 17, 2011 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Today interest is shifting from substance to relation, to communication, to time.

Ilya Prigogine & Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature (via digitalpidgin)

Posted: September 7, 2011 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Universal Semantic Communication. Is it possible for two intelligent beings to communicate meaningfully, without any common language or background? “This question has interest on its own, but is especially relevant in the context of modern computational infrastructures where an increase in the diversity of computers is making the task of inter-computer interaction increasingly burdensome. Computers spend a substantial amount of time updating their software to increase their knowledge of other computing devices. In turn, for any pair of communicating devices, one has to design software that enables the two to talk to each other. Is it possible instead to let the two computing entities use their intelligence (universality as computers) to learn each others’ behavior and attain a common understanding? What is “common understanding?” We explore this question in this paper. To formalize this problem, we suggest that one should study the “goal of communication:” why are the two entities interacting with each other, and what do they hope to gain by it? We propose that by considering this question explicitly, one can make progress on the question of universal communication. We start by considering a computational setting for the problem where the goal of one of the interacting players is to gain some computational wisdom from the other player. We show that if the second player is “sufficiently” helpful and powerful, then the first player can gain significant computational power (deciding PSPACE complete languages). Our work highlights some of the definitional issues underlying the task of formalizing universal communication, but also suggests some interesting phenomena and highlights potential tools that may be used for such communication. (…)Consider the following scenario: Alice, an extraterrestrial, decides to initiate contact with a terrestrial named Bob by means of a radio wave transmission. How should he respond to her? Will he ever be able to understand her message? In this paper we explore such scenarios by framing the underlying questions computationally. We believe that the above questions have intrinsic interest, as they raise some further fundamental questions. How does one formalize the concept of understanding? Does communication between intelligent beings require a “hardwired” common sense of meaning or language? Or, can intelligence substitute for such requirements? What role, if any, does computational complexity play in all this? (…)Marvin Minsky suggested that communication should be possible from a philosophical standpoint, but did not provide any formal definitions or constructions.
LINCOS [an abbreviation of the Latin phrase lingua cosmica]: The most notable and extensive prior approach to this problem is due to Hans Freudenthal, who claims that it is possible to code messages describing mathematics, physics, or even simple stories in such a radio transmission which can be understood by any sufficiently humanlike recipient. Ideally, we would like to have such a rich language at our disposal; it should be clear that the “catch” lies in Freudenthal’s assumption of a “humanlike” recipient, which serves as a catch-all for the various assumptions that serve as the foundations for Freudenthal’s scheme. It is possible to state more precise assumptions which form the basis of Freudenthal’s scheme, but among these will be some fairly strong assumptions about how the recipient interprets the message. In particular, one of these is the assumption that all semantic concepts of interest can be characterized by lists of syntactic examples. (…)
Information Theory The classical theory of communication does not investigate the meaning associated with information and simply studies the process of communicating the information, in its exact syntactic form. It is the success of this theory that motivates our work: computers are so successful in communicating a sequence of bits, that the most likely source of “miscommunication” is a misinterpretation of what these bits mean. (…)Interactive Proofs and Knowledge Finally, the theory of interactive proofs and knowledge [pdf] (and also the related M. Blum and S. Kannan. Designing programs that check their work) gets further into the gap between Alice and Bob, by ascribing to them different, conflicting intents, though they still share common semantics. It turns out this gap already starts to get to the heart of the issues that we consider, and this theory is very useful to us at a technical level. In particular, in this work we consider a setting where Bob wishes to gain knowledge from Alice. Of course, in our setting Bob is not mistrustful of Alice, he simply does not understand her. (…)Modeling issues Our goal is to cast the problem of “meaningful” communication between Alice and Bob in a purely mathematical setting. We start by considering how to formulate the problem where the presence of a “trusted third party” would easily solve the problem. Consider the informal setting in which Alice and Bob speak different natural languages and wish to have a discussion via some binary channel. We would expect that a third party who knows both languages could give finite encoding rules to Alice and Bob to facilitate this discussion, and we might be tempted to require that Alice’s statements translate into the same statements in Bob’s language that the third party would have selected and vice-versa. In the absence of the third party, this is unreasonable to expect, though: suppose that Alice and Bob were given encoding rules that were identical to those that a third party would have given them, except that some symmetric sets of words have been exchanged—say, Alice thinks “left” means “right,” “clockwise” means “counter-clockwise,” etc. Unless they have some way to tell that these basic concepts have been switched, observe that they would still have a conversation that is entirely sensible to each of them. [See also] Thus, if we are to have any hope at all, we must be prepared to accept interactions that are indistinguishable from successes as “successes” as well. We do not wish to take this to an extreme, though: Bob cannot distinguish among Alices who say nothing, and yet we would not classify their interactions as “successes.” At the heart of the issues raised by the discussion above is the question: what does Bob hope to get out of this conversation with Alice? In general, why do computers, or humans communicate? Only by pinning down this issue can we ask the question, “can they do it without a common language?” We believe that there are actually many possible motivations for communication. Some communication is motivated by physical needs, and others are motivated purely by intellectual needs or even curiosity. However these diverse settings still share some common themes: communication is being used by the players to achieve some effects that would be hard to achieve without communication. In this paper, we focus on one natural motivation for communication: Bob wishes to communicate with Alice to solve some computa- tional problems. (…)In order to establish communication between Alice and Bob, Bob runs in time exponential in a parameter that could be described informally as the length of the dictionary that translates Bob’s language into Alice’s language. (Formally, the parameter is the description length of the protocol for interpreting Alice in his encoding of Turing machines.) (…) [p.3] [To see proofs of theorems and more, click pdf]Conclusions In the previous sections we studied the question, “how can two intelligent interacting players attempt to achieve some meaningful communication in a universal setting, i.e., one in which the two players do not start with a common background?” We return now to the motivation for studying this question, and the challenges that need to be dealt with to address the motivations. (…) We believe that this work has raised and addressed some fundamental questions of intrinsic interest. However this is not the sole motivation for studying this problem. We believe that these questions also go to the heart of “protocol issues” in modern computer networks. Modern computational infrastructures are built around the concept of communication and indeed a vast amount of effort is poured into the task of ensuring that the computers work properly as communication devices. Yet as computers and networks continue to evolve at this rapid pace, one problem is becoming increasingly burdensome: that of ensuring that every pair of computers is able to “understand” each other, so as to communicate meaningfully. (…) Current infrastrusctures ensure this ability for pairs to talk to each other by explicitly going through a “setup” phase, where a third party who knows the specifications of both elements of a pair sets up a common language/protocol for the two to talk to each other, and then either or both players learn (download) this common language to establish communication. An everyday example of such an occurence is when we attempt to get our computer to print on a new printer. We download a device driver for our computer which is a common language written by someone who knows both our computer and the printer. We remark that this issue is a fundamental one, and not merely an issue of improper design. Current protocols are designed with a fixed pair of types of devices in mind. However, we expect for our computers to be capable of communicating with all other communication devices, even ones that did not exist when our computer was built. While it would be convenient if all computers interacted with each other using a single fixed protocol that is static over time, this is no more reasonable to expect than asking humans to agree on a single language to converse in, and then to expect this language to stay fixed over time. Thus, to satisfy our expectations in the current setting, it is essential that computers are constantly updated so as to have universal connectivity over time. (…) This work was motivated by a somewhat radical alternative scenario for communication. Perhaps we should not set computers up with common languages, but rather exploit the universality in our favor, by letting them evolve to a common language. But then this raises issues such as: how can the computers know when they have converged to a common understanding? Or, how does one of the computers realize that the computer it is communicating with is no longer in the same mode as they were previously, and so the protocol for communication needs to be adjusted? The problem described in the opening paragraph of the introduction is simply the extremal version of such issues, where the communicating players are modeled as having no common background. (…)Perhaps the main contribution of this work is to suggest that communication is not an end in itself, but rather a means to achieving some general goal. Such a goal certainly exists in all the practical settings above, though it is no longer that of deciding membership in some set S. Our thesis is that one can broaden the applicability of this work to other settings by (1) precisely articulating the goal of communication in each setting and (2) constructing “universal protocols” that achieve these goals. (…)
One of the implicit suggestions in this work is that communicating players should periodically test to see if the assumption of common understanding still holds. When this assumption fails, presumably this happened due to a “mild” change in the behavior of one of the players. It may be possible to design communication protocols that use such a “mildness” assumption to search and re-synchronize the communicating players where the “exponential search” takes time exponential in the amount of change in the behavior of the players. Again, pinning down a precise measure of the change and designing protocols that function well against this measure are open issues.”
— Brendan Juba, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Harvard University. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Theory of Computing group, Madhu Sudan, Indian computer scientist, professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Universal Semantic Communication I (pdf), MIT, 2010 (Illustration source) See also: ☞ Brendan Juba, Madhu Sudan, Universal Semantic Communication II (pdf), MIT ☞ J. Bao, P. Basu, M. Dean, C. Partridge, A. Swami, W. Leland, J. A. Hendler, Towards a Theory of Semantic Communication (Extended Technical Report) (pdf)

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