Friday, January 23, 2015

Biosemiotics and the cycle of explanation in the sciences

Biosemiotics and the cycle of explanation in the sciences

Seán Ó Nualláin Ph.D
Presentation for semiotics circle of California,
UC Berkeley 2pm 24 Jan 2015

Biosemiotics treats biology as a signalling system. It is often Perircean in its thrust. Hoverer, wider concepts of “code biology” are often implicit in biosemioticians' practise.

This paper argue that Biology indeed manifests discontinuity from the “merely' physical in the fact that syntax is intrinsic to biology. It goes on to show other attributes – the existence of hierarchies, the interaction of metabolic contextual material with the symbols, and much else – which distinguish the biological. Conversely, Schroedinger's' hallowed “negentropy” is now an archaism in a worldview that accepts dissipative systems.

The manner in which the above constrains cognitive science is the final topic in this paper. It is argued that scientific explanation must be reflected in the cognitive theories we use; for example, scalar quantities cannot explain a a brain that works in vectors and indeed higher-order tensors.
Here is the gathering;

This is the conclusion of my talk;

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Universities in the conventional sense survive - for the moment

Universities in the conventional sense survive, if only as mating centers for the
middle-class. Why? I believe that the dotcom startup  model does not
work because the domain is too complex, has a very highly-subsidized
state competitor,  and requires resources of feeling and intuition as
well as huge smarts for teaching

I have been much more interested in getting traction for my projects
by keeping up world-class research, often arising from conferences I
organize that world-class universities host, and finding gifted
student in unlikely places like 4799 Shattuck, a refuge for ivy league
grads who don't want any more student debt;

Yes, I think I am succeeding where Thiel, Thrun et al are failing

As it happens, I did  a master's in psychology
and the thesis was partly an exploration of Piaget's ideas on
education and experimental rejection of his flights of fancy. Of
course,  Piaget's “learning by doing” ethos was picked up in the
Montessori schools. My “Search for mind”  book, which went into 3
editions, is an explication and critique  of Piaget that his most
fervent followers (Robert Campbell of Clemson comes to mind) respect.

I am very impressed by the data-mining Edx and others are doing on
their students. Yet a critical point is being
missed; after several thousand years, people have become very expert
readers. We read for several hours a day, and have a very
finely-calibrated sense of how to optimize our own information
retention as we read.

The second critical issue is consensual validation, or – more
practically - “talking to people”. This usually involved very
expensive real estate in “land grant” colleges. While physical
presence is wonderful, and we should arrange proximity meetings a few
times a year, much can be done virtually.

What I'm seeking investors for is a university, mainly online, that
can beat  “land grant” colleges at their own game of research and
teaching combined .  So far, I have successfully run online courses I
originally taught at Stanford and Berkeley