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V.D. Veksler
Attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
10,466 followers|1,517,009 views
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Education
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Cognitive Science, 2009
  • Rutgers University
    Computer Science; Psychology, 1999
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engineering the mind
Introduction
I am a scientist doing research on Computational Cognitive Modeling. My work falls under Artificial Intelligence and Psychology domains. I study human/animal learning and decision mechanisms, and develop computational agents based on these mechanisms (links: 1 2 3). 

I also spend a good deal of time on cognitive robotics (interfacing robots with cognitive systems link), on virtual world simulations (interfacing Second Life with cognitive systems link), on semantic models (getting computers to learn word meaning by reading link), and cognitive engineering (a sub-field of human-computer interaction), and I have taught courses on all of these topics at Rensselaer (i♥rpi).

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V.D. Veksler

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Toronto-based Maker Kids is one of the world's only makerspaces for kids. Chief Happiness Officer and Co-executive Director Jennifer Turliuk shares insights into their recipe for success and how we can remake the world by making with kids: http://bit.ly/1iPmNF1
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Finally. Had to share this.
If you haven't discovered 2048 yet, you should definitely try it. It's the new Tetris.
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Or, for the more astronomically minded: 
http://www.nebulousresearch.org/CMBR/
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V.D. Veksler

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it passed the Turing test! sort of. rather, the humans failed the test. good enough. :)
 
Robots are taking over the role of reporting news, especially when it comes to the type of news that is based on merely being the bringers of news.

One example from yesterday was an article about the earthquake in LA, which was covered in this story, written entirely by a computer: http://goo.gl/TfNw8a ... and compared to so many other stories, I actually find this to be one of the best. Especially if you compare it to articles like this one from the Associated Press, which is filled with irrelevant fluff: http://goo.gl/L6eNkx

What possible value does it have to send out a journalist to get eyewitness reports like this: "My dog got out of bed, and she came looking for me," Smith said. "She was shivering terribly."

But how good is automatic software-based reporting really? The answer is very, very good... at least according to a new study from Sweden.

Christer Clerwall, from Karlstad University in Sweden decided to do a 'blind test', asking students to compare news reports done by both journalists and software algorithms. The result was that the software algorithms are now just as good at writing news reports as people. 
- http://goo.gl/PaBWlp

As you can see from the graphs below, when it came to how the story was perceived, journalists and software algorithms were nearly identical. The only slight difference being that journalistic-written articles appeared slightly better written, although less useful, trustworthy, and informative. 

In other words, journalists are better storytellers, but their stories are just not that good.

Even more interesting is when you he asked them to guess who had written the article. 56% responded that they thought the articles written by journalists were actually written by a computer, while 37% thought journalists had written those made by a computer.

In other words, in terms of simply being the bringer of news, journalists have now been outcompeted by software. People can't tell the difference, and, as we all know, software algorithms can work much faster, more accurate (if the data is accurate of course), and 24-7 at almost zero cost. 

The old business model of being a reporter and to 'bring the news' is over. This will in the future be done completely automatically, and it's only a matter of time before the big tech companies move in. The next time there is an earthquake, Google Now, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana will simply read aloud the story like the one done automatically by LA Times. Several startups will try to capitalize on this by creating data-news content services. And while many of these will not succeed, the best ones will eventually be incorporated into other services.

In many ways, what is happening to journalists is the same that once happened to the fashion industry. As you may know I started my career in fashion, and the first company I worked for employed about 60 people. There were 2 sales people, 2 designers, 4 administrative staff, 3 technicians, a janitor, and about 50 seamstresses. During the time I was there, those 50 seamstresses lost their job, because the production was outsourced to Poland (and later China).

The people in Poland could do the same job, at a higher quality, with fewer resources, and much, much cheaper. A company with 60 employees could now be run using only eight - and still make the same product.

This is what's happening to journalism. 

So the question all journalists should ask themselves is "are you a seamstress? ...or are you a designer?" If you are merely a seamstress, i.e. a journalist merely reporting stories based on available information, your future looks bleak. 

But if you are a designer, i.e. a journalist who goes beyond just reporting the news, but instead focus on providing insight, perspective, analysis, then your future is looking better than ever. In a world of data, we need people to give us perspective and to help us translate it into something that is relevant for us as individuals.

And no, this doesn't mean interviewing eyewitnesses that have nothing insightful to tell, nor does it evolve interviewing experts or pundits who merely conjecture without having any real insight. It's about being better than the news itself.

Sadly though, many newspapers are currently moving in the wrong direction with their pageview-optimized news reporting. They are trying to build traffic by bringing people even more news, not realizing that that's exactly the what automatic algorithms do best.
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Nice, now to make it so it can write my thesis.
+Yael Netzer 
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"Higgs would struggle to hang on to his academic post today. You might think that someone like him really need publish only one [Nobel-worthy research paper], but in today's "publish or perish" climate, that would simply not cut it"

the worst of it is that the "publish or perish" culture incentivizes scientists to submit half-baked, half-tested research results, and spend more time writing than doing actual research. 

the result: scientific journals full of spam, and scientists who may be better described as scientific authors.
Jim al-Khalili: An obsession with targets and impacts is killing off the blue-sky thinking that helped Higgs to a Nobel prize
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I was talking to my dentist the other day about some of our successes in organ cloning. She was surprised. I mentioned teeth had been challenging.

Now I see there has been some success in animal trials with stem cells.

Exciting times we live in.
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V.D. Veksler

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Are You There Server? It's Me, Margaret...
Heartbleed explained xkcd style

By now, most people will have heard about Heartbleed, and the programmer responsible for the bug has even been named. But in the mad rush to change all your passwords, remember that unless the vulnerable sites already have patched the Heartbleed hole, entering a new password just makes that password vulnerable too.

Not all sites used the vulnerable protocol, and not all that did have fixed the vulnerability yet. But groups like +Mashable are compiling lists of where you're good to go in creating a new password: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

You also can check which sites are good to go here: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

Meanwhile,  if you are feeling the pain of trying to come up with what seems like an infinite number of complex passwords meeting all the increasingly complex standards of various sites, know that you're not alone, as this prescient short comedy video by Horse+Horse illustrates: http://goo.gl/aE2IE8

#ScienceSunday   #scisunABS  
illustration by xkcd.  original source here: http://xkcd.com/1354/
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Terrifying is right... 
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this is pretty hilarious
 
This is quite simply brilliant, watch the video if you are an expert in your field. We have all felt like this #engineer at times for whatever field it is that you specialize in...
#project #expert Wonderful find via +Nam Le 
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Haha this is great.
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$8500 for a good idea for an annual Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Modeling competition

got ideas for a task that could push researchers and developers toward collaboration and progress in the direction of human-level AI and more human-like cognitive systems?

could be worth some money. plus a free trip to Quebec in July.

going once... going twice...


#AI   #AGI   #humanlevelai   #strongAI    #cognitivecomputing   #cognitivescience   #artificialintelligence   #cognitivemodeling   #cognitivesystems  
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Go Science!

so, it's settled then -- 
G+ is for Geekery
Fb is for Family & friend stalking
Pinterest is for Projects
Twitter is for TV commentary

right?

note the reference to the Science on Google+ community in that article: scienceongoogle.com
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How antiquated
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V.D. Veksler

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New York Times picked up this article, and it's the #2 story on reddit right now!

http://nyti.ms/1f7iiFd

congrats to the authors!

here's the editor's introduction:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tops.12080/abstract
 
Does Cognition Deteriorate With Age?

Seems that the widely accepted notions that cognitive abilities decline with age may have come from biased psychometric tests.

This article <http://bit.ly/Lcz78w> points out that psychometric tests indicating cognitive decline fail to account for an all-important performance metric -- how much do people know, and what can they do?

Traditional studies focus on speed and accuracy of information retrieval, while neglecting the amount of potentially retrievable information. 

This paper points out that older people may be able to do more things and retrieve more facts. This additional knowledge, of course, comes at a price -- retrieval of any one procedure or fact may be slowed. 

This is not to say that there aren't medical conditions that can cause cognitive decline over time. However, normal aging is not doom. The older we get, the more we know, the more we can do (reaction-time tasks notwithstanding).

"Who is more impressive, our authors might ask, “young” Harry, who can keep three
balls in the air for 10 min, on 95% of the trials? Or “old” Sally who can keep five balls
in the air on 90% of the trials?" - Wayne D. Gray & Thomas Hills, Editors

Editors seem to be particularly excited about the methodology that the Ramscar et al. employed for their analyses: computational cognitive modeling. Cognitive modeling is an extremely powerful technique in psychology, allowing for comparisons of quantitative theory predictions.


Editor Intro: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tops.12080/abstract
Gray, W. D. and Hill, T. (2014). Does cognition deteriorate with age or is it enhanced by experience? Topics in Cognitive Science, 6(1):2–4, doi:10.1111/tops.12080.

Full Article: http://bit.ly/Lcz78w
Ramscar, M., Hendrix, P., Shaoul, C., Millin, P., and Baayen, H. (2014). The myth of cognitive decline: Nonlinear dynamics of lifelong learning. Topics in Cognitive Science, 6(1):5–42, doi:10.1111/tops.12078.
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