Friday, March 31, 2017

Uploading and Dowloading Thoughts

Elon Musk's new company "Neuralink is pursuing what Musk calls the "neural lace" technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts, the Wall Street Journal reported." This is interesting, if only because it presupposes a rather naïve view of what thoughts are, namely that they are discrete (software) objects or data structures "in the brain" that can be manipulated in the way in which any digital information can be manipulated.

Biologically speaking, thoughts may well be described as neurons firing together in certain patterns with certain brains. And there may be different patterns for the "same" thought in different brains. These patterns may be more dependent on independent external objects than this view suggests. As Howard Rheingold suggested "[T]he human organism is linked with an external entity in a two-way interaction, creating a coupled system that can be seen as a cognitive system in its own right. All the components in the system play an active causal role, and they jointly govern behavior in the same sort of way that cognition usually does. If we remove the external component the system’s behavioral competence will drop, just as it would if we removed part of its brain. Our thesis is that this sort of coupled process counts equally well as a cognitive process, whether or not it is wholly in the head."

This may mean that notes on paper or the computer are at least as important for "uploading" or "downloading" thoughts than what's in the brain. I am sure this will be figured out eventually.

Just a thought!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Read Today

I read about Gaussian processes today on Wired: "deep neural networks" and "Gaussian processes". The following quote caught my attention: "Gaussian processes are a good way of identifying uncertainty. 'Knowing that you don’t know is a very good thing,' says Chris Williams, a University of Edinburgh AI researcher who co-wrote the definitive book on Gaussian processes and machine learning. 'Making a confident error is the worst thing you can do.'"

This is obviously also very important for note-taking. Any relevance to recent political developments is, of course, purely accidental.

Back Links

Back links are a standard Wiki Technology. A list of back links is the same as the list of all pages that refer to the page you are viewing. This makes the navigation in the Wiki much easier. See here.

There are quite a few "wiki" apps that do not have this capability.[1]


1. See previous post (plus comments).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bear

Bear is a relatively new application. It seems to be very popular.

I have fooled around with the desktop application, but I have no real need for the iPhone and iPad apps at this time. This might be the reason why I find it less than compelling.

It has a clean interface, and I like it. Whether it is "beautiful," as they claim, I do not know. To me, it looks like many other note-taking apps on the Mac.

They claim: "Link notes to each other to build a body of work. Use hashtags to organize for the way you think. All notes are stored in portable plain text. Yes, it allows you to link notes--very much the way that nvAlt allows you to do it: You enclose words in double brackets, and if those words correspond to a note title, it links to the note. This looks like a wiki-link, but it has only some of the characteristics of a wiki-link. Chhange the title of the note and the link is broken. No back links either.

Bear supports its own version of Markdown and has a "Markdown compatibility" mode. It handles pictures very well, and it also exports to PDF and Word, and it has many other interesting and useful functions. It is a good applications. I recommend it, but I myself would have liked a stronger linking capability.

I would very much like to see something like "ConnectedText for Windows," and I had some hopes "Bear" might be it. But it isn't. To be sure, this is a very esoteric expectation, but I cannot help myself.

If you would like to see a more thorough review of Bear, see here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

20,000 Notes in Evernote

It appears that Evernote can handle 20,000 notes with relative ease. That is good to know, even if I don't use Evernote extensively. I am very worried about putting that much trust into an online system that is under someone else's control.

Still, it is interesting that it can be used as a heavy-duty note-taking system.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Searle on Writing

Writing "has enormous meta-cognitive implications. The power is this: That you cannot only think in ways that you could not possibly think if you did not have the written word, but you can now think about the thinking that you do with the written word. There is danger in this, and the danger is that the enormous expressive and self-referential capacities of the written word, that is, the capacities to keep referring to referring to referring, will reach a point where you lose contact with the real world." (Interview)

I'd prefer to aay "can reach" a point where you lose contact with reality. But that does not indicate deep disagreement.

Monday, January 9, 2017

OneNote Links

OneNote is another application I don't use much. In fact, I have never really used the latest Windows version. But my last post motivated me to try and see what happens when I rename the target of wiki links in this application. Anyone who really uses OneNote probably knows the answer: The referring link does not get changed when you rename the target, but the link does not break (as it does in TiddlyWiki. So [[xyz]] continues to link to "xyz" even when it is called "abc". I suppose that is better than TiddlyWiki, but I think it would be better still if "[[xyz]]" became "[[abc]]".

I would find the behavior disconcerting in the long run. But that may just be a sign of my limitations.