Posts Tagged ‘networks’

Algorithmic Babies and the Chinese Room

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

I commented at Stephen Downes’ website on Patricia Kuhl’s TED talk about “The Linguistic Genius of Babies”. My quibble was less with the content than with the sentimentalized headline, because, although the babies’ brains do appear to implement a sophisticated statistical algorithm (to identify the phonemes of relevance to the language of their community), there is of course no serious suggestion that they actually understand the process any more than our immune system understands the “algorithms” by which it operates or  snowflakes and other crystals understands the symmetry groups which govern the way they construct themselves. (more…)

Nicholas Christakis: A tale of two videos

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Nicholas Christakis  has a couple of TED videos. This one (on how social networks predict epidemics) struck me as saying something truly interesting. The fact that we can gain predictive value by just asking random people to nominate friends  as subjects rather than picking the subjects at random themselves is the kind of beautiful idea that is so easy to understand after you have seen it that you hit yourself on the head and say “why didn’t I think of that?” – but you didn’t.

whereas this other one (which is actually the one I was directed to) points to nothing that doesn’t seem to me to be trivial and essentially common knowledge. (So much so that I almost decided not to bother clicking on the good one!)