Archive for July, 2013

Doors of Perception

Posted: July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

An xskool, as we call it, is a curated, context-specific, two-way learning exchange between a host project, or place, and expert but respectful visitors. By re-connecting people with places, and with each other, we believe, xskools can be an early catalyst for system transformation.

via Doors of Perception.

It will never be entirely possible to systematically distinguish truly dangerous ideas from good ones that appear suspicious, without trying them out. Any formal system that is granted (or assumes) the absolute power to protect itself against dangerous ideas will of necessity also be defensive against original and creative thoughts. And, for both human beings individually and for human society collectively, that will be our loss. This is the fatal flaw in the ideal of a security state.


The scientists discovered that a protein tyrosine phosphatase, called UBASH3B, is overexpressed in one third of TNBC patients. UBASH3B controls the activity of an important breast cancer gene. The researchers found that deleting this gene expression markedly inhibits TNBC cell invasive growth and lung metastasis in a mouse model. They also showed that patients with TNBC tumours that have high levels of UBASH3B tend to be more likely to have early recurrence and metastasis.

Lead author Dr Qiang Yu said, “The identification of target genes is always the most crucial first step towards treating a disease. It is heartening to know that UBASH3B is an important element of the pro-invasive gene network and targeting UBASH3B not only inhibits TNBC invasive growth, but also significantly reduces metastasis.”

via Singapore scientists discover new drug targets for aggressive breast cancer | Science Codex.

The Answer Lies In Hyperconnectivity

For example, if we could somehow acquire all of the world’s knowledge, it wouldn’t make us smarter. It would just make us more knowledgeable. That’s exactly how search worked before semantics came along.

In order for us to become smarter, we somehow need to understand the meaning of information. To do that we need to be able to forge connections in all this data, to see how each piece of knowledge relates to every other.

In the semantic Web, we users provide the connections, through our social media activity. The patterns that emerge, the sentiment in the interactions—comments, shares, tweets, Likes, etc.—allow a very precise, detailed picture to emerge.

That’s why the success of Google Plus is critical to Google’s move to semantic search.

via NetAppVoice: How The Semantic Web Changes Everything. Again! – Forbes.

Google’s Knowledge Graph: Yeah, that’s the Semantic Web (sort of)

by Darin Stewart  |  May 17, 2012  |  2 Comments

Google is about to get a whole lot more useful. Yesterday, the search titan announced the “Knowledge Graph” a functional enhancement that attempts to provide actual information about the subject of your query rather than just a list of links. This might be helpful, but the really interesting bit is the part about the graph. As Google SVP Amit Singhal put it in his blog post:


“The Knowledge Graph also helps us understand the relationships between things. Marie Curie is a person in the Knowledge Graph, and she had two children, one of whom also won a Nobel Prize, as well as a husband, Pierre Curie, who claimed a third Nobel Prize for the family. All of these are linked in our graph. It’s not just a catalog of objects; it also models all these inter-relationships. It’s the intelligence between these different entities that’s the key.”

via Google’s Knowledge Graph: Yeah, that’s the Semantic Web (sort of).

I love it when other people get on my band wagon! – lw :

Population Medicine: Lets Get Over It!

Eric J. Topol,

The topic is population medicine and why we cant get over this. Its befuddling to me. Let me go back for a few examples so you understand what Im really getting at:Our Brains on CoffeeThe New York Times, June 6, 2013: “This Is Your Brain on Coffee”[1] — why drinking 3 cups a day may be good for us. Well, does that take into account that at least 20% of people carry an allele where the metabolism of caffeine is markedly reduced, and that risk allele has indeed been linked to a higher risk of heart attack? Why should there be a recommendation now that all of us should be drinking 3 cups of coffee a day?Salt GuidelinesThen in May of this year there was a big Institute of Medicine report[2] regarding what should be the salt guidelines. And this got all sorts of organizations rankled — the American Heart Association[for instance] — about what should be the salt recommendations for everyone. This is crazy stuff, because we know that there are some people who are remarkably salt-sensitive and will have a blood-pressure response to a salt load, and then there are many others who are what essentially appears to be salt-resistant, as they can have as much salt in their diet as possible and its not going to have an effect on their blood pressure.ESC/ESH Blood Pressure GuidelinesCurrently we have European Society of Cardiology/European Society of Hypertension guidelines[3] stating that blood pressure should be less than 140 mm/Hg for all. Now, if you go through the guidelines it talks about how those over 80 years…are exempt, but why do we have to have this “for-all” approach? That is just not working, its not right; its basically the structure of guidelines that doesnt respect the individuality of whats unique about us biologically, physiologically, and anatomically — our environment, everything.Its frustrating to me because Ive been watching this for so many years, and we still have this fixation about having some guidelines or recommendations for all people. It just doesnt stop. When are we going to get this straight?Ill be really interested in your comments. Its been a pet peeve of mine for a long time, and unfortunately Im not seeing any progress. Maybe you know how we can try to not simplify things so much and move forward.Thanks a lot for your attention.

via Population Medicine: Lets Get Over It!.

The Internet of Things. A critique of ambient technology and the all-seeing network of RFID

Cities across the world are about to enter the next phase of their development. A near invisible network of radio frequency identification tags (RFID) is being deployed on almost every type of consumer item. These tiny, traceable chips, which can be scanned wirelessly, are being produced in their billions and are capable of being connected to the internet in an instant.

via the internet of things | Are you ready for the Internet of Things?.

From Individual to Collective Epistemic Action

Georg Theiner reorients the study of cognition toward the complex interactions among brain, bodies, and their social and cultural environments as they produce  cognitive outcomes (cf. Clark 2008;Sutton et al. 2010). Use of cognitive technologies to scaffold the social interactions of people who collaboratively carryout certain cognitive tasks has been described in several environments (e.g., cockpits, navigation bridges, traffic control centers). Such “cognitive technologies” (Norman 1991) enable us to distribute cognition in space, time, and among people (Hutchins 1995). Social and cultural exchange of expertise via expert language, maps, databases that “scaffolded” cognition among individuals and generations of scientists, for example (Sterelny, 2010).

Theiner focuses on the mechanisms by which groups of people actively change the structure of their own social organization, with the epistemic goal of reshaping and augmenting their cognitive performance as integrated collectivities. For this purpose, the dynamic, interaction-centered notion of epistemic action in the work of Kirsh and Maglio (1994) seems toprovide a more promising starting point than the static, object-centered notion of a cognitive resource. “As a way of articulating a distinctively collective dimension of the “extended mind” thesis, I thus propose that we distinguish between individual and collective epistemic actions . . . . actions by which groups change the world in order to simplify their problem-solving tasks.”  .

via Onwards and Upwards with the Extended Mind: From Individual to Collective Epistemic Action | Georg Theiner –

Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Jun 19;7:106. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00106. Print 2013.

A Hebbian learning rule gives rise to mirror neurons and links them to control theoretic inverse models.

Hanuschkin A, Ganguli S, Hahnloser RH.


Institute of Neuroinformatics, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich Zurich, Switzerland ; Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ) Zurich, Switzerland.


Mirror neurons are neurons whose responses to the observation of a motor act resemble responses measured during production of that act. Computationally, mirror neurons have been viewed as evidence for the existence of internal inverse models. Such models, rooted within control theory, map-desired sensory targets onto the motor commands required to generate those targets. To jointly explore both the formation of mirrored responses and their functional contribution to inverse models, we develop a correlation-based theory of interactions between a sensory and a motor area. We show that a simple eligibility-weighted Hebbian learning rule, operating within a sensorimotor loop during motor explorations and stabilized by heterosynaptic competition, naturally gives rise to mirror neurons as well as control theoretic inverse models encoded in the synaptic weights from sensory to motor neurons. Crucially, we find that the correlational structure or stereotypy of the neural code underlying motor explorations determines the nature of the learned inverse model: random motor codes lead to causal inverses that map sensory activity patterns to their motor causes; such inverses are maximally useful, by allowing the imitation of arbitrary sensory target sequences. By contrast, stereotyped motor codes lead to less useful predictive inverses that map sensory activity to future motor actions. Our theory generalizes previous work on inverse models by showing that such models can be learned in a simple Hebbian framework without the need for error signals or backpropagation, and it makes new conceptual connections between the causal nature of inverse models, the statistical structure of motor variability, and the time-lag between sensory and motor responses of mirror neurons. Applied to bird song learning, our theory can account for puzzling aspects of the song system, including necessity of sensorimotor gating and selectivity of auditory responses to bird’s own song (BOS) stimuli.

via A Hebbian learning rule gives rise to … [Front Neural Circuits. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI.

Solar Mamas – Hilton LightStay Sustainability Award

“Solar Mamas” documents the amazing story of the Barefoot College, where women from all over the world, many of whom have never had any formal education, are trained to become solar engineers so that they can bring electricity back to their homes. The film is one of the first honored by the Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award, an award created by Hilton Worldwide and Sundance Institute to acknowledge documentaries that showcase the connections between sustainability, economic growth and community development.

via Solar Mamas – Hilton LightStay Sustainability Award | Video | Sundance Institute.