Friday, February 26, 2016

Personality Types

Learning to appreciate diversity.

Clockwise from top left: Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Choleric, and Melancholic.Source.

link to myers brigg personality test

Keirsey Temperament Sorter:

Guardians (SJs)

Conservators (E/ISFJs): ProvidersProtectors
Administrators (E/ISTJs): SupervisorsInspectors

Artisans (SPs)

Entertainers (E/ISFPs): PerformersComposers
Operators (E/ISTPs): PromotersCrafters

Idealists (NFs)

Advocates (E/INFPs): ChampionsHealers
Mentors (E/INFJs): TeachersCounselors

Rationals (NTs)

Engineers (E/INTPs): InventorsArchitects
Coordinators (E/INTJs): FieldmarshalsMasterminds

Personality temperament artwork by Thomas Woodruff:


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wildlife Camera Photos - Winter 2015-2016

These photos were taken by a network of motion-triggered wildlife cameras in the Manzano Mountains, New Mexico:




Moore's Law Redux: Connectivity is More Important that Processing Power

While Moore's law continues to slow, traffic on international internet links continues to grow faster than capacity. 

Moore's law, which predicted a doubling of the number of transistors per chip every 18 months, lasted from the 1960's through the early 2000s.  Over the last 10 years, newer chips have cost less and use less energy, but they have not been noticeably faster. Yet, even as Moore's law has slowed, the rise of the internet has made individual computer chips less important.

Chip density is still increasing, but progress has slowed as chip designers bump up against fundamental physical constraints, like the size of silicon atoms.  Also, as chips get smaller and denser the problem of dark silicon has increased.  To combat these limitations, manufacturers have added multiple cores and specialized architecture for graphics processing and other specialized operations. But multicore processors are hard for software to use efficiently. (Ars Technica article.)

So the current state-of-the-art 14nm Broadwell chips will remain best for the next 18+ months.  Intel promises to go to 10nm and then 7nm with new non-silicon technology.  Non-silicon technology may also finally allow faster chip speeds.  3D chip architecture is the next big advance that will improve power efficiency.  

In the meantime, manufacturers have focused on building specialized chips for mobile applications and the internet of things.  It seems the brave new frontiers are really in new mobile and cloud-based applications where energy efficiency matters more than processing power.  Every person in the world will have, on average, three internet-connected devices by 2019.

Global peak Internet traffic volumes rose 37 percent overall in 2015.  In years past, peak  internet traffic increased in excess of 41 percent each year, a rate which implies that traffic is more than doubling every two years. Over the next three years, overall growth is projected to slow to 23% a year (Telegeography 2015 Annual Report, Executive Summary.)

Even with the relative slowing of internet growth, global internet traffic in 2019 will be equivalent to 64 times the volume of the entire global internet in 2005. Globally, Internet traffic will reach 18 gigabytes (GB) per capita by 2019, up from 6 GB per capita in 2014.

IP traffic is growing fastest in the Middle East and Africa, followed by Asia Pacific. Traffic in the Middle East and Africa will grow at 44 percent annually between 2014 and 2019. By 2019, there will be more internet traffic in east Asia than in North America.
(Cisco 2015 analysis.) (Ars Technica has an older analysis)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Thinking with the Body - Eugene Gendlin's Breakthrough Embodied Cognition Philosophy

Gendlin is the heir to Heidegger and Lakoff.  His work bridges psychotherapy and philosophy.  I can't believe I haven't read him before.

Excerpts from "Thinking at the Edge":
"THINKING AT THE EDGE" (in German: "WO NOCH WORTE FEHLEN") is a systematic way to articulate in new terms something which needs to be said but is at first only an inchoate "bodily sense." It is the difficult task of getting students to attend to what they implicitly knew but could not say and never considered trying to say.

"Oh," one student exclaimed when he grasped what I was looking for, "you mean something about which we have to do hemming and hawing." Yes, that was just what I meant. Another asked: "Do you mean that crawly thing?"

An internally intricate sense leads to a series of statements with certain recognizable characteristics. Statements that speak-from the felt sense can be recognized by the fact that they have an effect on the felt sense. It moves, opens, and develops.

This is in contrast to what we normally call "thinking", which seems to require unitized things which are assumed to be either cleanly identical or cleanly separate, which can be next to each other but cannot interpenetrate, let alone have some more complex pattern. The unit model is regularly the reason why some new insights cannot be said. But to reject the unit model in general is not possible, because it inheres in our language, our machines and in all our detailed concepts. The capacity for breaking out of the unit model cannot be imparted simply by studying Heidegger, McKeon, etc. Critique does not prevent us from falling into the old model.

We must develop a new use of bodily-sourced language with which we can speak directly from the body about many things — especially about the body and language. . Language does not consist just of the words. The situations in which we find ourselves, the body, and the language form a single system together.

We find that when people forgo the usual big vague words and common phrases, then — from their bodily sense — quite fresh colorful new phrases come. There is no way to say "all" of it, no sentence that will be simply equal, no sentence which will simply "represent" what is sensed. One strand emerges from the bodily sense, and then another and another. What needs to be said expands! What we say doesn't represent the bodily sense. Rather it carries the body forward.

People live through a great deal which cannot be said. When the living body becomes able to carry itself forward by symbolizing itself, it acts and speaks from a vast intricacy. . Humans don't happen without culture and language, but with and after language the body's next steps are always freshly here again, and always implicitly more intricate than the common routines. You can instantly check this by becoming aware of your bodily aliveness, freshly there and implicitly much more intricate than the words you are reading.

We need to build new social patterns and new patterns of thought and science. This will be a mutual product no single person can create. On the other hand, if we work jointly too soon, we lose what can only come through the individual in a focusing type of process. Nobody else lives the world from your angle. No other organism can sense exactly "the more" that you sense.

Excerpts from "Three Assertions about the Body":
A felt sense comes. It isn't just there waiting. We have to let it form and come. That takes at least a few moments, sometimes longer. So we understand that a felt sense is a certain development, a certain bit of further life-process. What does it stem from? How can we think about ordinary events and experience in such a way that we could understand what a felt sense is and how it forms?

A felt sense is distinctly something there, something with a life of its own, that we attend to directly. If we attend to our bodies, in the middle of the body it comes, and then it is in an odd sort of space of its own. It brings its own space. In that space the felt sense is a direct object, that, there.

The kind of experience I mean is sometimes attributed to "the unconscious," although such a body-sense is, of course, conscious. We are aware of sensing it when it is there, yet it is true that much of the knowledge that can emerge from it was unconscious before. There is no such directly felt body-sense in the unconscious. When we invite it to come, we can feel it freshly forming. It is not already there, underneath. At most one could say that it forms itself from "the unconscious."

But calling it "unconscious" does not explain this kind of experience. It is only a mysterious name, just as "hunch," "intuition," and "instinct" are mysterious names for it.

What can we say about this kind of experience just from these two examples?

The experience is felt rather than spoken or visual. It is not words or images, but a bodily sense.
It does not fit the common names or categories of feelings. It is a unique sense of this person or this situation.
We must also notice one more characteristic of this kind of experience:
Although such a body-sense comes as one feeling, we can sense that it contains an intricacy. Let me explain that.

Your body-sense of the person you know contains all your past history with that person and what you hope for with that person. It also contains what that person rouses in you and some of your own unresolved troubles. In there as well is the exact way in which you[Page 24]do and don't like the person, and much more. Let me roll all that together and call it "an intricacy." You might be able to think three or four of those things, but most of them remain implicit. Such a body-sense contains an implicit intricacy.

We don't usually think of physical feelings as containing a whole complex mesh. Physical sensations are supposed to be simple. A pain or a sensation is just what it is. It is opaque. We don't expect a hidden complexity, for example, in the stabbing pain of a twisted ankle or in the sensation of red. A complex situation might have led to the twisted ankle, but we don't expect to find the intricacy of the situation inside the pain. What distinguishes the kind of physical sense I am discussing is that it does contain an implicit intricacy, "all that" about that person.

You can sense that it is implicitly complex, even if you don't find any of it out, even if you don't succeed in opening it and entering. I speak of "opening and entering." This kind of bodily experience is a door. If we open it and if we enter, we can go many steps into it...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Problem with Ecosystem Services

There is a controversy in the conservation community about monetary valuations.  A recent podcast on Freakanomics looked at rational altruism using a Consequentialist cost/benefit analysis.

The example was between treating HIV and malaria.  A person infected with HIV might cost $100,000, while a person dying of malaria might only cost $1,000 to cure.  Since we can help 100 people with malaria for every one with HIV, shouldn't we focus first on malaria, and only turn to HIV once we've helped everyone we can with malaria?

The logic is sound, but try telling that to a doctor working on HIV (let alone a patient with HIV).  But how else could we decide?

The big idea seems to be to add up the (monetary) costs of charities and look at some simple metric (like lives saved) to pick and choose the best charities.(link to bjorn lomberg's thinktank)  But do we only care about a single metric, a single value?  And how compare education to disease, senile dementia to juvenile delinquency?

The same problems bedevil conservation...

I think the simple answer is that there are no simple answers, and every approach has a place.  If some government minister will only listen to economic arguments, use them... but others will listen to other values, and those also matter.  Whether people care about the scariest diseases (terminal diarhea) or the cuddliest endangered animals (link to cockapo), these interests are meaningful.
There is a long tradition in decision science and economics of critiquing irrational human preoccupation with infrequent, but salient/scary crises (link to risk diagram disasters axis) as opposed to rational actors (link to behavioral economics discussion, maybe wikipedia) dispassionately evaluating statistics.  I try to avoid news sources because of our (link) well-demonstrated cognitive biases, but I don't think we can (or should) "fix" every element of human thinking.

Yes, every decision is a choice to focus on one priority over another, and yes it is not rational to make that decision without comparing and ranking all choices.  But pure rationality doesn't take account of the full richness of human life.  We care about many values, not just The Most Important. Is it absurd to try to save endangered species when many people don't have adequate nutrition?  (link to weird conservation stories, nature conservancy).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Osmotic Regulation of GI Tract

At its most basic level, diarrhoea results from an imbalance of absorption and secretion of ions and solute across the gut epithelium, followed by the movement of water in an attempt to restore the appropriate ion concentrations. Often, this imbalance is caused by the presence of bacteria that secrete toxins that disturb the organization of the epithelium.  NIH

The gut, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and plays a key role in human emotions. But few know the enteric nervous system exists, and therefore gut health is often overlooked. Symptoms from the two brains can get confused....

The intestine absorbs nutrients while simultaneously forming a barrier to noxious substances and bacteria. Along its 7 metre length, the human intestine displays regional specialization, which is further marked by the presence of distinct cell types in different areas.

Osmotic laxatives, such as Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia, or Miralax, and nonabsorbable sugars (such as lactulose or sorbitol), hold fluids in the intestine.  More info.