Monday, March 31, 2003

I'll come back to this...

But I wanted to put it in here while I still remembered. This is a quote from an Ian Watson article on AI:

The subjective nature of awareness

A major assumption about AIs in the popular mind and in entertainment is that they will indeed be conscious and will have subjective experiences. The common image of an AI is one of self-awareness, not merely superintelligence. But how much self-awareness do human beings possess - and what is this "self" that we are aware of?

In 1985, the neurosurgeon Benjamin Libet performed some experiments with surprising results. He put electrodes on subjects to detect their brain waves and the flexing of their wrists. The subjects watched a revolving spot on a clock face. They could flex their wrists whenever they chose, but had to note the exact position of the spot when they made this decision. Libet was timing the beginning of the action, the precise moment of the decision to act, and the beginning of a particular brain wave pattern known as the readiness potential. When the brain preplans a series of movements, this pattern occurs just before the complex action.

Libet found that the readiness potential starts about one half of a second before the action, but the decision to act occurs about one-fifth of a second before the action. The conscious decision to act is not in fact the starting point. The event is already beginning before the person consciously chooses to start.

Conscious awareness lags behind what happens. You jerk your hand away from a hot surface before you consciously feel the pain. However, we do not realize this because of what Libet called subjective antedating. The brain puts events in order after the event. "I feel that I consciously did such and such," but tests prove otherwise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Thoughts on this year's Oscars

My excuse is; I was only watching it because a friend was nominated. By lunchtime I knew he hadn't won, but we decided to go to his sister's house to watch the awards anyway.

Without further ado, here are my awards for this year's Oscars:

Best Performance by Banquo's Ghost

Michael Moore

Most in need of a good feed and a slap

Renee Zellweger

Best Reason for Limiting Speech Time

Nicole Kidman

Worst Reason for Limiting Speech Time

The Visual Effects Guys from LOTR: The Two Towers and Adrian Brody (tie)

The Can't Believe They're Still Alive award

Olivia De Havilland and Michael Moore

The Laughing in the face of proposed murder award

The audience, after their response to Steve Martin's jocular reference
to the teamsters helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo (the
joke was funny, the response was chilling.)

Worst-maintained Fixed Smile

Julia Robert's when she realised she would be sitting next to old, ugly

Most In Need of a High School Education

Cameron Diaz acting like a bored 12 year old as if she was auditioning
for the next Roman Polanski film

Most Mixed Signals Award

Booing a political activist and cheering and applauding a statutory
rapist (sorry, got confused myself, Jack Nicholson didn't win, did he?)

And in other news, we find out why Steve Martin's quips were funnier than usual

Monday, March 24, 2003

Ugly Puppets

I've always loved puppets, though these ones may have to get by on their personality

Friday, March 21, 2003

War takes its toll on Uni students

Something to do whilst the bombs are falling.
The Last Sane Man in England

If only we had politicians of this calibre in Australia...

It helps that he has the same name as one of my favourite authors - not this one, but this one [hmmm, doesn't seem to be a decent website for him...]
Toss the Bums Out!

According to Geoff Kitney of the SMH some people don't seem to know there's a war on.

What is it good for?

How the hell would I know? Ask someone who's there or someone else who's possibly there.