In marking Alan Turing's centenary, it's worth asking what was his most fundamental achievement and what he left for future science to take up when he took his own life in 1954. His success in World War II, as the chief scientific figure in the British cryptographic effort, with hands-on responsibility for the Atlantic naval conflict, had a great and immediate impact. But in its ever-growing influence since that time, the principle of the universal machine, which Turing published in 1937, beats even this.
Hold up both hands and spread your fingers apart. Now put your palms together and fold your two middle fingers down till the knuckles on both fingers touch each other. While holding this position, one after the other, open and close each pair of opposing fingers by an inch or so. Notice anything? Of course you did. But could a computer without a body and without human experiences ever answer that question or a million others like it? And even if recent revolutionary advances in collecting, storing, retrieving, and analyzing data lead to such a computer, would this machine qualify as “intelligent”?
A discussion of computational biology has to start with a pioneer of the field, Alan Turing, especially in this centennial year of his birth. He introduced us to the digital computer and proposed that much biology could be described by mathematical equations—the number of spirals in a sunflower is a Fibonacci number and pattern formation in animal skins can be described by a reaction diffusion model. Turing lacked the data and the computing power to substantiate his models. Today, the availability of vast quantities of new data, together with striking advances in computing power, is promising to give us new insights into the mechanisms of life. This special section, together with related content in Science Signaling and Science Careers, highlights recent advances and outstanding challenges.
The publication and open exchange of knowledge and material form the backbone of scientific progress and reproducibility and are obligatory for publicly funded research. Despite increasing reliance on computing in every domain of scientific endeavor, the computer source code critical to understanding and evaluating computer programs is commonly withheld, effectively rendering these programs “black boxes” in the research work flow. Exempting from basic publication and disclosure standards such a ubiquitous category of research tool carries substantial negative consequences.
Sleep Study Suggests Triggers for Diabetes and Obesity
Late nights in the lab, early morning commutes from the suburbs, Angry Birds videogame marathons into the wee hours—the demands and distractions of modern life are stealing our sleep and perhaps robbing us of our health. According to the longest sleep-limitation study to date, published this week in Science Translational Medicine, many people are on sleep and work schedules that prime them for diabetes and obesity.
Evolving networks with bimodal degree distribution
Networks with bimodal degree distribution are most robust to targeted and random attacks. We present a model for constructing a network with bimodal degree distribution. The procedure adopted is to add nodes to the network with a probability p and delete the links between nodes with probability (1 − p). We introduce an additional constraint in the process through an immunity score, which controls the dynamics of the growth process based on the feedback value of the last few time steps. This results in bimodal nature for the degree distribution. We study the standard quantities which characterize the networks, like average path length and clustering coefficient in the context of our growth process and show that the resultant network is in the small world family. It is interesting to note that bimodality in degree distribution is an emergent phenomenon.
From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.
Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while “overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover magazine). Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.
How the Brain Got Language: The Mirror System Hypothesis by Michael A. Arbib
Unlike any other species, humans can learn and use language. This book explains how the brain evolved to make language possible, through what Michael Arbib calls the Mirror System Hypothesis. Because of mirror neurons, monkeys, chimps, and humans can learn by imitation, but only "complex imitation," which humans exhibit, is powerful enough to support the breakthrough to language. This theory provides a path from the openness of manual gesture, which we share with nonhuman primates, through the complex imitation of manual skills, pantomime, protosign (communication based on conventionalized manual gestures), and finally to protospeech. The theory explains why we humans are as capable of learning sign languages as we are of learning to speak. This fascinating book shows how cultural evolution took over from biological evolution for the transition from protolanguage to fully fledged languages. The author explains how the brain mechanisms that made the original emergence of languages possible, perhaps 100,000 years ago, are still operative today in the way children acquire language, in the way that new sign languages have emerged in recent decades, and in the historical processes of language change on a time scale from decades to centuries. Though the subject is complex, this book is highly readable, providing all the necessary background in primatology, neuroscience, and linguistics to make the book accessible to a general audience.
"More information is always better, and full information is best. More computation is always better, and optimization is best." More-is-better ideals such as these have long shaped our vision of rationality. Yet humans and other animals typically rely on simple heuristics to solve adaptive problems, focusing on one or a few important cues and ignoring the rest, and shortcutting computation rather than striving for as much as possible. In this book, we argue that in an uncertain world, more information and computation are not always better, and we ask when, and why, less can be more. The answers to these questions constitute the idea of ecological rationality: how we are able to achieve intelligence in the world by using simple heuristics matched to the environments we face, exploiting the structures inherent in our physical, biological, social, and cultural surroundings.
Computation and its Limits by Paul Cockshott, Lewis M Mackenzie, Gregory Michaelson
Computation and its Limits is an innovative cross-disciplinary investigation of the relationship between computing and physical reality. It begins by exploring the mystery of why mathematics is so effective in science and seeks to explain this in terms of the modelling of one part of physical reality by another. Going from the origins of counting to the most blue-skies proposals for novel methods of computation, the authors investigate the extent to which the laws of nature and of logic constrain what we can compute. In the process they examine formal computability, the thermodynamics of computation and the promise of quantum computing.
Complex Adaptive Innovation Systems: Relatedness and Transversality in the Evolving Region
Leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 and onwards, the shortcomings of traditional models of regional economic and environmental development had become increasingly evident. Rooted in the idea that ‘policy’ is an encumbrance to free markets, the stress on supply-side smoothing measures such as clusters and an over reliance on venture capital, the inadequacy of existing orthodoxies has come to be replaced by the notion of transversality.
This approach has three strong characteristics that differentiate it from its failing predecessor. First, as the name implies, it seeks to finesse horizontal knowledge interactions as well as vertical ones, thus building ‘platforms’ of industrial interaction. Secondly, it is not a supply, but a demand side model in which needs-driven innovation rather than pure market competition prevails. Finally, it is ongoing through recessionary times, being more robust than over-specialized approaches to economic growth.
An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies
One of the most influential economists of the decade-and the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Stagnation-boldly argues that just about everything you've heard about food is wrong.
Food snobbery is killing entrepreneurship and innovation, says economist, preeminent social commentator, and maverick dining guide blogger Tyler Cowen. Americans are becoming angry that our agricultural practices have led to global warming-but while food snobs are right that local food tastes better, they're wrong that it is better for the environment, and they are wrong that cheap food is bad food. The food world needs to know that you don't have to spend more to eat healthy, green, exciting meals. At last, some good news from an economist!
Tyler Cowen discusses everything from slow food to fast food, from agriculture to gourmet culture, from modernist cuisine to how to pick the best street vendor. He shows why airplane food is bad but airport food is good; why restaurants full of happy, attractive people serve mediocre meals; and why American food has improved as Americans drink more wine. And most important of all, he shows how to get good, cheap eats just about anywhere.
Artificial Intelligence Could Be on Brink of Passing Turing Test
One hundred years after Alan Turing was born, his eponymous test remains an elusive benchmark for artificial intelligence. Now, for the first time in decades, it’s possible to imagine a machine making the grade.
Turing was one of the 20th century’s great mathematicians, a conceptual architect of modern computing whose codebreaking played a decisive part in World War II. His test, described in a seminal dawn-of-the-computer-age paper, was deceptively simple: If a machine could pass for human in conversation, the machine could be considered intelligent.
Towards mobile intelligence: Learning from GPS history data for collaborative recommendation
With the increasing popularity of location-based services, we have accumulated a lot of location data on the Web. In this paper, we are interested in answering two popular location-related queries in our daily life: (1) if we want to do something such as sightseeing or dining in a large city like Beijing, where should we go? (2) If we want to visit a place such as the Birdʼs Nest in Beijing Olympic park, what can we do there? We develop a mobile recommendation system to answer these queries (...)
Towards mobile intelligence: Learning from GPS history data for collaborative recommendation Vincent W. Zheng, Yu Zheng , Xing Xie, Qiang Yang
Artificial Intelligence Volumes 184–185, June 2012, Pages 17–37
Weak Links: The Universal Key to the Stability of Networks and Complex Systems by Peter Csermely
How can our societies be stabilized in a crisis? Why can we enjoy and understand Shakespeare? Why are fruitflies uniform? How do omnivorous eating habits aid our survival? What makes the Mona Lisa 's smile beautiful? How do women keep our social structures intact? Could there possibly be a single answer to all these questions? This book shows that the statement: "weak links stabilize complex systems" provides the key to understanding each of these intriguing puzzles, and many others too. The author (recipient of several distinguished science communication prizes) uses weak (low affinity, low probability) interactions as a thread to introduce a vast variety of networks from proteins to economics and ecosystems. Many people, from Nobel Laureates to high-school students have helped to make the book understandable to all interested readers. This unique book and the ideas it develops will have a significant impact on many, seemingly diverse, fields of study.
The past decade has witnessed a momentous transformation in the way people interact and exchange information with each other. Content is now co-produced, shared, classified and rated on the Web by millions of people, while attention has become the ephemeral and valuable resource that everyone seeks to acquire.
This talk will focus on how social attention is allocated among all media and how it decays as novelty fades and new content is created. This will be followed by a description of the role that attention plays in the production and consumption of content within social media, how its dynamics can be used to predict future trends, and its connection with the emergence of a public agenda.
Maxi San Miguel - "What do we learn from simple models of social behavior?"
When does a social group reach agreement by imitation processes? I will discuss how we answer this question by considering the voter model, a paradigmatic example of simple model of social behavior. Aspects to be addressed include the role of tie heterogeneity and non persistent ties in social networks, as well as the heterogeneity in the timing of interactions and the coexistence of imitation and rational behavior. I will also discuss the competition between self-organization and external messages or mass media in models of social consensus.
No computer can yet pass the 'Turing test' and be taken as human. But the hunt for artificial intelligence is moving in a different, exciting direction that involves creativity, language – and even jazz
AI robot: how machine intelligence is evolving Marcus du Sautoy The Observer, Sun 1 Apr 2012
We introduce a future orientation index to quantify the degree to which Internet users worldwide seek more information about years in the future than years in the past. We analyse Google logs and find a striking correlation between the country's GDP and the predisposition of its inhabitants to look forward.
Quantifying the Advantage of Looking Forward
Tobias Preis, Helen Susannah Moat, H. Eugene Stanley & Steven R. Bishop Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 350 doi:10.1038/srep00350