ICT driving development of networked intelligence, not networked intelligence demand-pulling IT

28 December 2012 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

Clay Shirky, communications and Internet speaker (based at NYU) spoke on how connectivity has changed the way humans approach tasks (“IT as a core academic competence
at EDUCAUSE 2012 annual conference). He said that ICT has gone beyond making hard problems easy to making impossible problems trivial.

One intellectual technology spun off from this progress is crowdsourcing. One example he gave was the problem of finding objects (balloons) scattered throughout the country. A team from MIT solved it by spreading its inquiry by putting it on the Internet. Thus communications infrastructure enables us to invoke and benefit from the “cognitive surplus.”


Muscle memory storing music: a case for haptic interfaces for databases?

8 November 2012 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Neuroscience | Leave a comment

Motor areas of the brain are well suited to sequencing: muscles make one motion, then another, then another, and so on to accomplish motor tasks, and the organism usually doesn’t pay much attention to working out the finer details consciously.  Now, as reported at the 2012 Neuroscience Meeting, a researcher at Georgetown has found that processing familiar and unfamiliar melodies involve different gyri in the cortex (and the motor cortex only for familiar tunes).  This amplifies and refines our knowledge, for some years now already, of the coupling between auditory and motor systems for speech and music perception.

Could it have something to do with “sensory programming” (some people are kinesthetic, some people are visual, some people are auditory in the way they categorize and recall memories)?  Musicians use muscle memory, obviously.  While their output is auditory, they approach learning their craft (or memorize compositions) by means of tactile sensations–and that information would seem to point to muscle memory-style processing.

This research underscores the feasibility of non-verbal interfaces.  Motor areas may not be good for understanding complex concepts, but can handle simpler recognition and sequential storage tasks in support of higher cognition.  Thus tactile or haptic interfaces could possibly be employed concurrently with abstract cognition.

Innocentive: crowdsourcing innovation

30 October 2012 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

Innocentive posts “a steady supply of Challenges from a wide array of disciplines.” People can sign up to be “Solvers” who are free to take up and think of solutions to the challenges. (Interesting to note the provided “Solver Resources“.) The solutions found are highly specific. Their business model appears to be “premium” service enhanced by experts (what would The wisdom of crowds have to say about that?) as well as custom programming. HASTAC is less focused on problem solving but is also a “crowd” tool.

Collaboration and crowdsourcing come to medical informatics by way of Big Data

19 July 2012 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

Traditionally, medical informatics has featured clinical systems and metrics derived from protocols set by experts.  That is being expanded now by the availability of large quantities of data.  But aside from the change of basis of standards, the data files are available for crowdsourcing, machine learning, and new forms of collaboration, as indicated by sessions of the 2012 Meaningful Use of Complex Medical Data Symposium.

Collaborative decisionmaking from a military point of view

17 July 2012 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

As reported in Slashdot, an Atlantic article reviews Alan Jacobs’s New model army exploring the implications of a group of people functioning like Anonymous, making decisions collectively that a commander would make.  Emergence of group qualities is discussed.  Beyond pointing obviously to Star Trek’s Borg, the questions are about the technology that humans would adopt to link themselves in such a way.  An early reward would be efficiency and responsiveness–groups could adapt and “change shape” like slime molds, which can seem more intelligent than biology predicts.

What could kill Facebook, i.e., what keeps Facebook going

16 May 2012 at 4:20 am | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

TechCrunch published an analysis of things that drive Facebook, taking the interesting form of possible scenarios of its downfall. Seeming to attempt to advance arguments along business lines, it’s really describing behavior based on attention, credibility, and attraction based on belonging:  Here’s what could kill Facebook by Josh Constine, a writer for TechCrunch with a master’s degree in cybersociology from Stanford.

Michael Tilson Thomas: Music and emotion through time

13 May 2012 at 5:42 am | Posted in Neuroscience | Leave a comment

In a TED Talk, Michael Tilson Thomas (now, among other appointments, the artistic director of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra) spoke of the emotional impact of (and its manipulation by) classical music (touching on, without mentioning, the insights of Hindemith).

At 15:00, Thomas poses a question with neuropsychological implications:  What happens when the music stops?

To Thomas, it is the “intimate, personal side of music;” but it does pose the neuropsychological question of how a musical engram is configured synaptically:  memory, cognition, cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus, cingulate gyrus.  It could be that music’s “power” comes from involving so many parts of the brain, probably more than text does–and probably there is research on this.  How these would map to a relationship between cognition (if perception and appreciation of music could be adequately described by that single word) and memory.

Analysis of “Facebook revolutions”

3 January 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Collaboration and social neuroscience | Leave a comment

Somewhat off-topic, but lacking anywhere else to post it:

User-generated discontent: dissent and social media: presentation by Jack Bratich, faculty of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.  Analysis of “Facebook revolutions” in terms of sovereign power vs. people power, and how social media are tools.

Training causes brain restructuring

3 January 2012 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Neuroscience | Leave a comment

Article in Slashdot (“news for nerds, stuff that matters”):  You really are what you know: “There has been research for some time showing that London cab driver brains differ from other people’s, with considerable enlargement of those areas dealing with spacial relationships and navigation. Follow-up work showed it wasn’t simply a product of driving a lot (PDF). However, up until now it has been disputed as to whether the brain structure led people to become London cabbies or whether the brain structure changed as a result of their intensive training (which requires rote memorization of essentially the entire street map of one of the largest and least-organized cities in the world). Well, this latest study answers that. MRI scans before and after the training show that the regions of the brain substantially grow as a result of the training, and they’re quite normal beforehand. The practical upshot of this research is that — even for adult brains, which aren’t supposed to change much — what you learn structurally changes your brain. Significantly.”

The first comment is worth following the link to the main article.

Electronic mimicking of plasticity

17 November 2011 at 7:41 pm | Posted in Neuroscience | Leave a comment

MIT researchers, as reported through CogNet, have devised a multi-transistor chip that re-creates neural activity through opening and closing of ion channels creating a gradient like a neuronal action potential.  Action potentials have been simulated before, but this artificial creation of one is the key discovery.  It should bring a whole new dimension to devices based on neural nets.  The next step probably is scaling up to many multiples of the one synapse.  Higher cognition is based on thousands of such connections, and large numbers of these silicon emulations would be necessary to address most cognitive neuroscience questions relevant to higher endeavors.

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