Language Tree

Here is something a bit different. Here is a wonderful language tree of the Indo-European and Uralic languages by Minna Sundberg. For the piece in the Grauniad about it, go here. Click on the image for a bigger version.

Language Tree

Language Tree

Insects can do “complex” behaviour

Who’d have thought it?cover_nature

See Mischiati and colleagues in Nature for a study of hunting behaviour in the dragonfly Plathemis lydia using high-speed photography. A fun study and great to see it on the front of Nature, but perhaps not that suprising that these superb aerial hunters use “advanced” or “complex” information integration and path prediction (especially if you have ever tried to catch them!).

Mischiati et al (2015) Internal models direct dragonfly interception steering. Nature 517: 333-338.

Why the machines won’t take over

Welcome to the future (i.e. 2015). Fortunately, it is a future where we probably won’t have to worry about machines/computers etc taking over the world, despite recent books, scare stories and comments by famous physicists. For a compelling debunking of the fear of the machines, read John Searle’s fabulous article in October 9th New York Review of Books, “What your computer can’t know” (Dave is just catching up on his NYRB reading over the holidays). Coming at his arguments from my perspective, the key point is that machines are not biological organisms, and so “taking over the world” is meaningless to a machine. Why would a super-intelligent computer (if one could be made) have such a motive? Why would they have any intentionality at all? Searle’s article is a brilliant read and I strongly recommend it. To get a reprint please either contact John Searle or head to the NYRB website (paywall). Or subscribe to NYRB of course! It is wonderful reading.