Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Difficulties in Later Learning of 'Technical' Languages?

I'm wondering, since we have trouble mastering a spoken language if we start learning it after the end of puberty (or thereabouts, as I understand it), does this apply to what you might call 'technical languages' such as the concepts in something like statistics or other branches of maths? Is it that if we learn them later in life we are not able to think with them as dexterously? Even though we treat these things as distinct from spoken language, it's not obvious (to me at least) that the brain necessarily should. I'm wondering what research has been done into this, or what knowledge might give us clues to the answer?

'Inner voice' as General purpose Intra-brain Communication Mechanism?

No time to write this up properly.... I wonder if one of the major reasons for our 'inner voice' is as a general purpose means by which information can be communicated between the various brain 'modules'?

It seems likely to me that the information 'vocalise' through our 'inner voice' is processed and filtered through to all parts of the brain that would normally receive information about the sounds (and thus speech) that we would hear through our ears. This would mean that if the brain can internally produce information and turn it into speech the 'inner voice' that all these areas of the brain can be informed of that.

Though I don't have time to try and think of what the reasons for this are, this seems more likely to me than always having all of these special purpose communication channels through the brain (perhaps it is because that might be duplication? Also, note that I'm not trying to deny the existence of special purpose communication channels).

I have heard that the 'inner voice' was likely to have been a later evolutionary development than the ability to hear and process language or language-like statements, and this intra-brain communication usage would thus have been one of the benefits it could have brought.

I don't know what might have been written about this idea already, and all I can say is that I have read a few things that I think ought to have mentioned such an idea if the author had been aware of it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Example of Thought Substituted With Judgements Based on Perceived Characteristics

The italicised text in the following quoted passage is pointing out an example of the lazy substitution of thought with judgements based on perceived characteristics. That is, it's showing a case where, rather than thinking about whether a certain classification (in this case ‘art’) is appropriate in a particular case, we simply make this discision by looking for certain characteristics that we take as markers for that classification. We'll automatically perceive something as being, or not being, of that classification on the basis of the presence or absence of these characteristics.

We are right to shrink from the very idea of a "funny" book. There should be no such genre. We should expect laughter to be integral to the business of being serious. We are back in a new dark age of the imagination. We read to sleep. Either we refuse the idea of art altogether (something we do with every page of a Dan Brown novel we turn), or we confer integrity on it from outside, allowing it to be art only by virtue of the pre-determined importance of its subject matter, or the acceptability of its attitudes. This is a species of censorship to which we have all acceded. (my emphasis)

The article this passage is quoted from is here. I actually have only skimmed through it -- it's just that that sentence caught my eye.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


All times come

(...sounded idea whose lines I might be repeating here)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Venter, Kurzweil and Brooks on the Cutting Edge of Biology

A long but exciting article on how Craig Venter, Ray Kurzweil and Rodney Brooks envisage the cutting-edge path being marked out in the combination of biology and information technology. For example, Venter talks about some very interesting techniques being developed to attack cancer.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Room for Rent - Toowong

Large room in furnished two bedroom unit

  • Room has built-in wardrobe / storage space, nice views from window
  • Unit furnishings: fridge, microwave, stove, utensils/cooking equipment, espresso machine, couch, dining table, washing machine; (single bed for room can be supplied if required).
  • Located in Explorer Street, 10 mins walk from buses, trains and shopping center
  • Share with PhD student in mid twenties - i.e. me :-)
  • Male or female
  • Students from abroad welcome
  • Non-smoker preferred
  • Available 21 July
$115 / week, plus bond and utilities

Contact: 0403 939 167 / 3371 8052 / gmail: james.cole

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Facade - a one-act interactive drama

Facade - a one-act interactive drama. Sounds interesting.

"Facade calls itself a one-act interactive drama, and is an attempt to create realistic 3D AI characters acting in a real-time interactive story, where you can talk to them via a natural language text interface. The player is cast as a visiting longtime friend of Grace and Trip, a couple in their early thirties, and ends up in a verbal crossfire resulting from their failing marriage." (via Slashdot)

It's available as a free 800MB download, or on 2 CDs by mailorder.