- Jun 3, 2008
Chasing and understanding memory, intelligent synapses and the concept of lying (on the web).
Itâ€™s hard not to be fascinated by questions like how the brains are working, how memories emerge and whether synapses can be intelligent? On the web, the idea of the wisdom of crowds or massively distributed systems are hardly new. â€žWeâ€œ really seems to be better than â€žmeâ€œ. But how should we deal with new ethics and behaviors?
Within the last days I came across two fascinating scientists: Eric Kandel and Volker Sommer. Thinking about how this can all be applied to the Semantic Web leads to hundreds of associations.
Since last week the Nobel laureate Eric Kandel has been staying in Vienna. Said to be the â€žrockstar of brain researchâ€œ, Kandel is giving several talks and held a press conference ( derstandard.at, in German). The German director Petra Seeger made a documentary about the life and work of Eric Kandel which premiered on May 26, in Vienna. If you have the chance to see it, you shouldnâ€™t miss the movie “Auf der Suche nach dem GedÃ¤chtnis” in the Wiener Votivkino.
What are memories? How are they generated? How do they work? The Los Angeles Times features a four-part article on “Chasing Memory“.
â€žIt is because the neurons are not physically connected that communication between them is never certain. You never know whether a key is going to find a lock. This is thought to be why any cognitive activity, including memory, is approximate. Sometimes the connections are made; other times they are not. (…) The … hypothesis can be summarized by saying: After two neurons have successfully made contact once — that is, after the neurotransmitters have attached to receptors — the next time the original cell releases its neurotransmitters, there is a much greater chance the neighboring cell will receive them. There is a greater chance a key will find a lock.â€œ
So â€“ whatâ€™s the conclusion of this? What does it mean for the Semantic Web research? Collaboration? Social Semantic Web? One more aspect:
The lie in social networks.
Volker Sommer, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology in the University of London, talks in an interview about the necessity of lying. His book Lob der LÃ¼ge. TÃ¤uschung und Selbstbetrug bei Tier und Mensch, which might be translated as â€žPraise of the Lieâ€œ, stresses the fact that one â€“ whether man or animal â€“ sometimes has no chance than lying in order to survive. As a matter of fact, apes have the ability to lie. Our world is so competitive that this behavior is a sine qua non. Deceptive body language, such as feints that mislead as to the intended direction of attack or flight, is observed in many species including wolves.
And what about semantics?
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Lying is a language game â€“ it needs to be trained. Das LÃ¼gen ist ein Sprachspiel, das gelernt sein will, wie jedes andre. (Aus: Philosophische Untersuchungen, Â§ 249.)
What this means for social networks? As a fan of fantasy as such – I love the conception. As a working person I wonder whatâ€™s going to happen.
As always – very curious about future developments…
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