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A crash course in evolution (Part III)

For all our years of toil in machine learning research, we still only have one really usable model of intelligence—the mammalian brain. At first glance, it makes sense that a really complicated multicellular organism would want a control centre that can function faster than turning on and off genes or transmitting hormones, and we have examples of nervous systems (such as the one in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans) that do nothing other than steer the creature semi-randomly towards possible food sources. So how the heck did we end up with the wheel, wars, New York, and so on?

In the last part of this series, we looked at what it takes to create reproductive life, and a key real-world example of borderline living phenomena, the transposon. If you haven't read that part, now's a great time, since this part builds on it.


The brain is probably more complicated than our current models permit.
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Syngenesis comment   read more (7554 bytes) · 8452.78 tgc / 2013.28 ce

Holy word count!

Lilitika now has 2000 roots! The two thousandth root is strezyé, "to bless."
Thet comment   8452.713 tgc / 2013.152 ce

Roxanne Beckman–Coulter

Roxanne,
You don't have to turn on the red light;
Those days are over,
The tubes are now balanced and all is right.

[…]
Samantics comment   read more (1192 bytes) · 8452.703 tgc / 2013.135 ce

Regarding tense

(This article was originally written about a week ago. A mindless Baidu crawler deleted it, much to my horror. Hopefully that won't happen again.)

Lilitika intentionally takes strongly after ancient Greek in several respects, most obviously in the personality of its consonants and some of its endings. A week or two ago I was investigating classical sources in search of new mechanisms through which it might be possible to give the language a greater expressive power, and I stumbled upon the aorist. […]
Thet comment   read more (7371 bytes) · 8452.667 tgc / 2013.065 ce

Immature Dictionary Size Contest

Measuring number of roots as an index of a language's maturity... what could possibly go wrong?  […]
Samantics comment   read more (296 bytes) · 8452.661 tgc / 2013.053 ce

Conlang stereotypes and dead horses

This has been stewing around in my head for a little while now. Seems like the sort of thing I intended to write here. Yes, the hour is odd. No, I'm not having trouble sleeping. You are.

Retrospective admission: this article is nonsense. At the time I'd only seen newbie languages and didn't realise how large the conlang community was. Ignore this. […]
Samantics comment   read more (5224 bytes) · 8452.638 tgc / 2013.01 ce

Windows 8

By far the most remarkable thing is how much of these changes stop existing when Explorer isn't running. Technically I like the ribbon in Explorer because I'm a fan of the ribbon UI for cheesy HCI activism reasons, but I don't think I'd ever actually resort to it since right-clicking is more immediate.

The technical differences are as follows. […]
Samantics comment   read more (1760 bytes) · 8452.637 tgc / 2013.009 ce

The State of the Art

I was going to write some awful poetry here, but I'll just be blunt: the velocity and volume of material behind machine learning research leaves me on my knees. Every generation has said that general AI is only a few years away—but not every generation has had classification accuracy comparable to a well-trained human expert. Obviously that's not the last step in assembling your very own heuristically-programmed algorithmic computer, or even a plausible tactical drone, but it's a very big deal. […]
Samantics comment   read more (2440 bytes) · 8452.603 tgc / 2012.943 ce

code.CM.net

I have given it a bit of much-needed polishing; user profiles are now naturally linked to their neighbours on CM.net using transparent aliasing. It wasn't much work to put it together, but in combination with some other minor improvements to the Bug template and a quick implementation of the To Do page, it means that the core mechanism of code is complete. […]
Samantics comment   read more (290 bytes) · 8452.601 tgc / 2012.941 ce

A crash course in evolution (Part II)

When you hear about alien lifeforms, one of the most common phrases is "silicon-based life." The idea crops up often in science fiction—but what does it mean? Would it really look like burnt pizza? Is it even possible? What other forms of life are there?

Previously, we looked at the basic concepts of evolution from the perspective of research biology. If you haven't already read Part I, you might wish to do so.


Examples from the phylum Onychophora, one of the most peculiar kinds of worms.
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Syngenesis comment   read more (8485 bytes) · 8452.6 tgc / 2012.938 ce


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