12 June, 2012

!Q, a descriptive relation for emerged cognitive Qualia spaces.

I suppose at some point there will be found to be a kind of Heisenberg uncertainty principle between scales of "mind" (which I believe are fractal and scale in complexity with more and more integrated sensory information) and integration algorithm which can be either analog or digital or range between. The analog to h-bar being the constant interaction landscape of cognitive possibilities (qualia) emerged by variation across the other two fundamental attributes.

So if I define scale of mind as  sM, and integration algorithm by iA and !Q as the invariant qualia landscape. relation will look something like

sM = !QiA or sM/iA =!Q


sM , will vary with dimension (orthogonal sensory inputs) as it does in living minds. Some biological minds integrate sensory dimensions humans can't experience...for example the dimension of electrostatic or magnetic field sensation that platypus and birds have respectively in addition to ones we can. This will modulate the perception of integrated information of the eventual "mind" that emerges.

iA, will vary how the sensed information is integrated into the substrate that integrates,processes and stores the sampled sense data. It can be done using fully analog means or fully digital ones or hybrid means, as long as the input sample space can match the input sensory resolution of the devices used to capture events outside of the mind, then I posit there will be no difference at the integrating device which in biological brains are the synaptic connections of different types of neurons.

!Q, is the fixed Qualia space for a given selection of sM and iA. I imagine if plotted there will be an interesting symmetry to the variations in sM and iA that emerge a fixed !Q. It's not a constant in the h-bar sense but rather is held as a constant to see how the same space emerges with variation of sM and iA.

In biology iA varies little (as far as we can see all animal brains use the same iA) but our attempts at creating digital cognition employs iA variation that is digital in how synaptic simulation is achieved.

In biology and in artificial sensation sM varies greatly, from 6 (including balance as separate from hearing) known sensation landscapes in humans to 7 or more in some birds to all the different types of sensation on your smart phone. From GPS to orientation to sound to balance to bluetooth to UFC to touch to vision.

This is just a hypothesis based on how it seems these attributes are related in real brains and how our methods at simulating artificial minds are proceeding, I've not performed any effort at proof as of yet....might get to it a bit later as I start attacking the problem of creating a dynamic cognitive agent directly in a few years.

In the past I had not believed in the existence of a qualia space of experience but my recent work on implicit Workflow and Action Delta Assessment algorithm in Action Oriented Workflow has convinced me to see that earlier position as being wrong. Not only do I assert that qualia exists but a given qualia landscape is a fulcrum about which variations in sensory type and integration algorithm are modulated. All only hypothesis ...yet to find rigorous proof.




10 June, 2012

Why Facebook over paid for Instagram by about 995 million dollars.

The announcement by Facebook that it was going to buy Instagram, recent hot startup darling of the tech media for their app. that allows people to take photos and post them to Facebook with applied image filters and chat about the photos was met by accolades showered on Zuckerberg for his wisdom.

The logic was that the fast growth of Instagram showed that it was a potential  threat for Facebook, particularly in the mobile space where the app. was growing so quickly. I greeted the announcement with a mixture of bemusement and disbelief. The main reasons were summarized in the thesis I put forward in this article from last year that I wrote to explain why Google created Google+ and why they didn't really care about stealing users from Facebook.

I also, in a blog post from several years ago, before there was even a Google+ or Google wave... stated this:

"The proof of all this consolidation is clear in the numbers, users spend incredible amounts of time on the Facebook network...doing all these things they formerly did on different sites. Now, think...with such a huge investment made in having all ones interaction, content and community in one site...what on Earth can get them to switch en mass ?

I'll answer,

nothing. Barring a catastrophe on Facebook's end...they will be the last of the social networks and if they avoid Google's response (their only real competition in that they are the only ones with a suite of products that can be woven together to provide a similar experience fast enough and have a user base broad enough to maybe slow their growth) "  -- http://sent2null.blogspot.com/2009/07/facebooks-avalanche-picking-up-steam.html
Note, the mention of Google's "response" which came later that year (Wave was announced a month before but was not revealed until later in the year), waved failed as a email replacement meant to also provide social network like features. Two years later google+ was announced and revealed quickly and has grown very quickly but for the reasons mentioned in the earlier linked post, the growth has not come at the hands of stealing users from Facebook.

Apparently, Zuckerberg acted on buying Instagram because the fear was that Instagram would be able to build a comparable social network around their photo sharing service...to which I say,

absolute nonsense. 
They would have gotten more investor money yes, but they would never be able to build up a network as strong as Facebook or Google+ because networks tend to be *sticky* to services. I love Google+, I think it obliterates Facebook in many ways...but my network of 1,000 strong friends are not over there they are on Facebook...so I am stuck there for the most part, even though I like the features there better!

That would have been Instagrams problem trying to get people to do more than just share photos (flickr, picasa, photobox...a dozen other photosharing services!!) on the network....it would have never happened. Not only didn't they have the expertise (they were all of 13 people when bought) but they lacked all the features that create the social network tipping point of features that keep people stuck on a service.

So what would have happened was a year from now (more than enough time for Facebook to have simply used internal engineers to copy instagrams features without spending any where close to 5 million dollars let alone a billion) Instagram would get more funding...growth would slow, they'd have a lower valuation and would be swallowed by some other company for a song.

In light of this reality then Zuckerbergs move looks far more paranoid than prescient.

How many cofactors for inducing expression of every cell type?

Another revolution in iPSC technology announced:

"Also known as iPS cells, these cells can become virtually any cell type in the human body -- just like embryonic stem cells. Then last year, Gladstone Senior Investigator Sheng Ding, PhD, announced that he had used a combination of small molecules and genetic factors to transform skin cells directly into neural stem cells. Today, Dr. Huang takes a new tack by using one genetic factor -- Sox2 -- to directly reprogram one cell type into another without reverting to the pluripotent state."

-- So the method invented by Yamanaka is now refined to rely only 1 cofactor and b) directly generate the target cell type from the source cell type (skin to neuron) without the stem like intermediate stage. 

It also mentions that oncogenic triggering was eliminated in their testing. Now comparative methods can be used to discover other types...the question is..is Sox2 critical for all types? It may be that skin to neuron relies on Sox2 modulation but say skin to lung or heart to kidney cell might require different numbers or combinations of factors.

It's true that parsimony is on our side (I posit that "overloading" is the default state for evolutionary selective innovation over "overriding" as a form of selective polymorphism) so there may be a few modulation channels so to speak that Sox2 uniquely controls...but there are so many known cell types that there must be crossing with other key controls.  I hypothesize, that with over 200 cell types...the minimal number of cofactors required to uniquely express all types directly should be such that variation per co factor is low multiplied by number of cofactors accounts for at least a minimum of 200 (or the number of unique cell types across the life stages of a human being). So , (3)^5 or (2)^8 or (4)^4.

Conservation of energy would be the overriding constrain that determined how one combination of factors gave rise to the evolution of new cell types by modulation of the cofactors but the question of which pattern of cofactor polymorphism was most effective. Did the cofactors get "overloaded" with functionality (exponent) more than they were "overridden" (mantissa) ?? The vagaries of selective processes in the early life forms from which the original variation in cell types I fell would hold the key.

In correlation with this theory is the fact that the cofactors thus far being used to induce pluripotency have been based on 6 gene families (myc,klf,cox,lin28,nanog,oct3/4), which could cover all cell types with only 3 exponent hops...assuming those are indeed the base variations. The fact that various combinations induced cancer formation seems to indicate that not all of them may be or that they must be modulated in complex temporal ways in order to avoid cancer formation.

Whatever the correct minimal number of cofactors involved, I suspect they go way back to the Cambrian age and thus the associated pathways are highly conserved. It will be interesting to see what the actual algorithm of pluripotency turns out to be, my bet is on overriding being more important than overloading so of the three I bias for combinations that have larger exponents as they are more likely to generate new cell lines during cross modulation with minimal effort (time/energy) during a natural selection process.


07 June, 2012

Using existing human and non human resources better is imperative.

A recent set of reports by the UN is casting a light on a serious problem that is accelerating with the growth of human population. In this article the problem is put plainly:

"warning that the world was already running out of cheap and sources of some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold."

Aside mild annoyance at their placing "oil" next to "copper and gold" as natural resources this report only underscores a trend that must attend a growing population that is moving collectively toward greater levels of affluence.

Those of you who've read my articles on the need to develop a Self Healing Infrastructure (SHI) are very familiar with my solution to enable us to  decouple economic growth from the resource utilization profile of the planet.

I do not believe in the long run of the next 30 years that it comes from providing jobs in a disorganized way. Rather, the efficient routing of work to be done to workers able and willing to do it is what is most critical. In a sense this is learning to use the existing resources (human) more efficiently in order that they can help contribute to the development of efficiencies in service provision or product creation that reduce costs for physical resources over time. This human resource efficiency problem is a hard one that I attacked started in 2004 with the development of Action Oriented Workflow, also written up extensively in a series of articles over the last few years. This is the near term solution to the long term problem.

More important however for the long term are the construction of the SHI elements that will allow us to switch from non renewable resources that currently contribute to environmental change that is more immediately worrisome, over to renewable or virtually infinite (solar,wind,geothermal) resources that we've already been using but are at cost/efficiency levels that still need improvement.

Hence my objection to the article author placing "oil" in the same grouping as "copper and gold". The total amount of copper in the crust of the Earth is the same as it was 500 years ago, same as it was 5000 years ago...it may be in a different form from the original copper ores from which they are refined.

So an immediate way to eliminate the apparent shortage is to more efficiently reclaim deployed uses of copper, at present humanity is doing a terrible job of recycling many types of renewable resources including gold and copper...which are piled away with plastics and other non renewables in garbage heaps or dumped into the ocean! The chief problem being exorbitant cost to extract those resources from garbage in comparison to simply mining anew...but at some point the available supply/demand cost curve is going to make extraction more expensive than recovery IF we keep going as we are with utilization.

The problems we face are multidimensional unfortunately, spanning both social and economic spheres. On the social side, the emergence of the developing world and rising demand for a modern life style are fueling the rate of global resource consumption. Cultural and Religious mores encourage the mindless growth of families in these areas and is a big problem that must be tackled head on.

Relative to the social problems of expanded human growth the technological advances needed are actually relatively easy and advances in the areas of artificial intelligence, renewable resource extraction and deployment and intelligent automation that allows economies to grow while reducing the creation of displaced human work forces are currently under way.

The good news is that it is clear that in many advanced societies, a consequence of development is actually the reduction of the birth rate. Some of the most advanced societies in Europe and Asia have neutral or negative growth rates. Among the identified reasons for these rates of growth have been improved education among the populace in general, education and access to methods of contraception and very important, the elimination of religion and cultural proclivities to smaller family sizes. We need to study these countries and make active efforts to emulate their growth profiles in emerging countries to ensure that human population growth does not stress the parallel efforts to maximize inherent value in all of us while generating a dynamic self healing infrastructure that can allow us to free ourselves of the tyranny of a "need to work" while ensuring the population that does exist exerts minimal environmental impact on the planet.

We've got our work cut out for us that is sure but with resolve and the courage to apply new modes of thinking and new technologies I believe we can at least minimize what discord there is to come.