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Showing posts from November, 2006

Computability: theoretical or practical?

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Alan Turing defined in 1936 the now well known "Turing Machine" to define computation. A Turing Machine is actually an abstract mathematical construction, which cannot be fully materialized, since it requires an infinite tape (memory). Nevertheless, people have been discussing their brains out on whether the human mind (whatever that may be) is computable or not. This is because people believe that if whatever our brains or minds do is computable, then (in principle) it could be modelled in a computer, thus reaching the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence: a machine with the same intellectual abilities as a human (whatever that may be).

Still, computability as we understand it, i.e. Turing computability, i.e. a function that a Turing machine can perform, is only computability in theory. In practice, there are Turing-computable numbers that are not computable in practice by our computers, since there would not be enough time in the universe to calculate them, or memory to…

50 years of AI

The term "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) was coined at a conference in Dartmouth College, NH, in the summer of 1956, so this year has seen several celebrations, e.g. in Boston, Monte Verità, Paris... so Brussels couldn't be left behind!

The AILab of the VUB organized a one day event at the Royal Flemish Academy for Arts and Sciences, with invited talks by people who have done advancements in AI in Flanders... so it was basically VUB people (i.e. ex-students of Luc Steels) and a couple from Leuven. You can see the full info here (in Dutch).

So, during and after the presentations, I realized how the expectations of AI have changed. In the 50's, people were predicting that we would have robots with humanlike intelligence in a few decades. In the 80's, a new wave of AI began to spread, namely with behaviour-based systems, neural networks, dynamical systems theory, and artificial life. Many of these were also aiming at humanlike intelligence (from the bottom-up), severel…

A new Republic in Mexico

Yesterday, November 20th, 96th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, Andrés Manuel López Obrador took protest as the legitimate president of Mexico. Since the circles of power have corrupted the national institutions and the media, culminating with the presidential elections fraud last July 2nd, more than a million Mexicans, of which several were representing many others, gathered last September at a National Democratic Convention, and elected López Obrador as the legitimate president (well, he had won already, but since the electoral institutions and tribunals were corrupted, they gave the victory to the puppet Felipe Calderón, who will attempt to take possesion of a spurious presidency on December 1st).

The new legitimate government will be defending the rights of the majority of Mexicans, living in poverty and "forgotten" by the people in power (they have not forgotten, they are just being unmercifully exploited). For example, the President proposes to the Congress the bu…

Web 3.0 already???

What to expect from Web 3.0 by ZDNet's Phil Wainewright -- Web 2.0 is just a staging post. Web 3.0 is coming, and it's going to recreate our notion of the application as well as upsetting a few applecarts along the way.

New aphorisms

*“If we could achieve all that we wanted, there would not be anything left to enjoy”

*“It's much easier to take a woman into your bed than into your life”

*“Winning or losing does not matter as much as what you learn from it”

“For most things, you need to give in more than what you get out. (2nd law of homodynamics?)”

*“Do not suffer for what you lack,
enjoy what you have”

“Those who have less usually give more”

“If you care too much about your goals, you will never reach them.”

“Using time for yourself does not mean losing it” -Nadia

“(...) our brains are only minuscule fragments of the universe, much too small to hold all the facts of the world but not too idle to speculate about them” -Valentino Braitenberg, Vehicles, p. 1.

More Aphorisms here.

New cartoons: Complex Humour

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I've added seven new cartoons to Complex Humour




More cartoons @ Complex Humour.

New Paper: Complexity and Philosophy

Heylighen, F., P. Cilliers, and C. Gershenson (forthcoming 2007). Complexity and Philosophy In Bogg, J. and R. Geyer (eds.) Complexity, Science and Society. Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford.
Abstract: The science of complexity is based on a new way of thinking that stands in sharp contrast to the philosophy underlying Newtonian science, which is based on reductionism, determinism, and objective knowledge. This paper reviews the historical development of this new world view, focusing on its philosophical foundations. Determinism was challenged by quantum mechanics and chaos theory. Systems theory replaced reductionism by a scientifically based holism. Cybernetics and postmodern social science showed that knowledge is intrinsically subjective. These developments are being integrated under the header of "complexity science". Its central paradigm is the multi-agent system. Agents are intrinsically subjective and uncertain about their environment and future, but out of their loca…

Internet slowdown

I don't know about you, but we've had in Belgium some serious Internet slowdowns for a few weeks already. Sites such as digg, Gmail and blogger have been periodically timing out.

They seem correlated with an excessive increase in SPAM I'm receiving... about 100 a day. Spammers have evolved in such a way to generate automatically different messages with different words (so that they will be difficult to detect by text based filters), from randomly generated addresses (so that they cannot be tracked or blocked), and which have randomly generated links to sites that are simple redirectors to porn portals... Changing randomly the characteristics of these messages make it difficult for anti-spam technologies to categorize them as spam... Well, even if they do, their massive propagation through the Web slows down everybody! What could be done to stop such foul behaviour??? Moreover, which solution would not be only temporal, since spammers are constantly evolving their techniques…

PhD thesis in progress online

I am finally compiling my PhD thesis. Please feel free to check the latest snapshot. Any comment/suggestion/feedback would be more than welcome.

Most of the contents of the thesis are the outcome of my work on self-organizing systems.

AbstractComplex systems are difficult to design and control. There are several particular methods for coping with complexity, but there is no general methodology. In this thesis I propose such a methodology. This is based in the description of the system as self-organizing. The methodology proposes a series of steps to follow to find proper mechanisms that will promote elements to find solutions to problems by actively interacting among themselves.A general introduction to complex thinking is given, since designing self-organizing systems requires a non-classical way of looking at things. To illustrate the methodology, I use as case studies self-organizing traffic lights, self-organizing bureaucracies, and self-organizing artifacts in an ambient intelligen…