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Ed Wiebe
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"Particle physics is good for many things, but generating potent worries isn’t one of them."

http://backreaction.blogspot.ca/2017/06/dear-dr-b-what-are-chances-of-universe.html
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Remember The Dress?

According to psychologist Robert Zajonc, "The very existence of “the dress” challenged our entire understanding of color vision. Up until early 2015, a close reading of the literature could suggest that the entire field had gone somewhat stale—we thought we basically knew how color vision worked, more or less. The dress upended that idea. No one had any idea why some people see “the dress” differently than others—we arguably still don’t fully understand it. It was like discovering a new continent. Plus, the stimulus first arose in the wild, making it all the more impressive."*

Zajonc has published a study that shows that people who are Larks (early risers) tended to assume the dress was in shade and Owls (late risers) saw it as it was, illuminated by artificial light. He believes that our colour perception in general is modulated by our predominant environmental light exposure.

The study is here: http://jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2617976


* http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/04/here_s_why_people_saw_the_dress_differently.html


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“Did you see how her demeanour was at the beginning?” she said. “Tense, to say the least. And then as she began to get more educated … how it completely lifted, this mantle of anxiety?”

https://www.statnews.com/2017/03/22/insect-delusional-parasitosis-entomology/
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"Part of why we work on this is because it's fascinating."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6uBSCdz35c
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The programmer could of course just simulate the whole universe (or multiverse?) but that again doesn’t work for the simulation argument. Problem is, in this case it would have to be possible to encode a whole universe in part of another universe, and parts of the simulation would attempt to run their own simulation, and so on. This has the effect of attempting to reproduce the laws on shorter and shorter distance scales.

http://backreaction.blogspot.ca/2017/03/no-we-probably-dont-live-in-computer.html
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As neural networks become more important in our lives we must learn to be very wary of what they do.

"The software was used on two neural nets trained to recognize horses. One neural net was using the body shape to determine whether it was horse. The other, however, was looking at copyright symbols on the images that were associated with horse association websites."

These learning systems learn to associate inputs with outputs but may be connecting dots that we would place no importance on. Neural networks are already doing things like choosing to report nonsense to you as fact when you ask Google a question (http://gizmodo.com/googles-algorithm-is-lying-to-you-about-onions-and-blam-1793057789). Or checking through your credit card records. Or removing you from the short list for a job application pool.

Take this very seriously. It's important.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/brainlike-computers-are-black-box-scientists-are-finally-peering-inside
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Science is about building models.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/new-research-reveals-origins-of-the-ancient-silk-road/

The results were encouraging. "After 500 iterations, or the modelled equivalent of 20 human generations, flow aggregations form a near-continuous geography of 'pathways' that discretely connect over 74% of highland Silk Road sites [at 750 m to 4,000 m]." When they compared their algorithmically-generated pathways with a map of 618 known Silk Road camps in the mountains, they had actually joined 74% of the camps with possible routes.
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"Loeb admits this work is speculative."

Science works by building models and iterating them against observations.


"Loeb and his co-author Manasvi Lingam examined the feasibility of creating a radio transmitter strong enough for it to be detectable across such immense distances. They found that, if the transmitter were solar powered, the sunlight falling on an area of a planet twice the size of the Earth would be enough to generate the needed energy. Such a vast construction project is well beyond our technology, but within the realm of possibility according to the laws of physics.

"Lingam and Loeb also considered whether such a transmitter would be viable from an engineering perspective, or whether the tremendous energies involved would melt any underlying structure. Again, they found that a water-cooled device twice the size of Earth could withstand the heat."


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170309120419.htm
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