by Stephen Downes
Dec 10, 2015
Johann Friedrich Herbart
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
Some good stuff in this new article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and some dead ends. The subject is Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841), "known today mainly as a founding figure of modern psychology and educational theory." Herbart argues that "consciousness is nothing more than the continuous stream of representations." What are these representations? Anticipating Freud, he says these are self-preservations of the psyche, or spirit. He offers a detailed mathematics describing the mechanics of the spirit. Pedagogy, he argues, is designed to foster the many parts of this spirit; "the teacher helps the pupil develop all his unique talents and interests as far and as coherently as possible." This is a process of experience and reflection. "The teacher does not simply give the principle to the child. Rather, his instruction aims to bring the child by stages to recognize the principle on and as its own, by reflecting on its immediate experience." We see in Herbart flavours of Piaget, William James, and cognitivist theories of cognition, all of who would write in the decades following.
Create cognitive plugins for Minecraft with Bluemix, Docker, and Watson
IBM Developer Works,
OK, this is really really brilliant, but it will take a lot of brainpower to comprehend and even more to follow the instructions and make the whole thing work. But the concept behind what's happening here must not be passed by, and knowledge of some of the mechanics is essential to understanding the new world of applications programming.
So here's the concept: you can put the intelligence of a large artificial intelligence like IBM's Watson into characters or objects that inhabit a virtual world like Minecraft. This is not theory; this 4-part tutorial provides detailed instructions on how to do exactly that. "you'll see how to build a plugin that uses the Watson Q&A service to answer questions about diseases — and then how to combine that plugin with another third-party Minecraft plugin that adds infectious diseases to your Minecraft villagers. When you combine the two, you get a reason within the game to learn about how to diagnose and treat a disease, as well as how to do so." Brilliant.
Along the way, you'll learn about a number of relatively recent but important building blocks forming the new internet (think of it as the real web 3.0). First is Docker. "Docker allows you to package an entire running system — all the way down to the operating system — into a single, lightweight package (not surprisingly, called a container) that you can then move from place to place." Next is Bluemix, " to take your Docker containers and run them not only on your local machine, but also in the cloud for others to access." You do this using Cloud Foundry. The coding is done inside the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). Via Doug Peterson. P.S. Tony Hirst sends another example of running an app with containers.
Creatures avoiding planks planks_blog
What we have here are sim creatures equipped with nothing more than neural networks for brains. They live in an environment filled with dangerous planks. If they live, they get to pass on their genes ("which are just vectors of neural connection weights and biases") to the next generation. It is a brilliant and effective demonstration of the link between neural networks and evolution (well - Lamarckian evolution). Again: human brains are perceptual systems. In this demonstration, at least, everything is part of that same system: knowledge, reasoning, perception, adaptation and evolution.
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