Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Brief

The Future's so trite I have to give shade.

1 comment:

jimf said...

Come the Singularity, your brain will be electronically simplified.
(My brain? That's my second-favorite organ! ;-> ).
The Secret to the Brain’s Memory Capacity May Be Synapse Size
By Shelly Fan
on Jan 31, 2016

. . .

A fundamental idea in neuroscience is “fire together, wire together.”
If a stimul[us] — say, the taste of coffee — causes a group neurons to
activate together, the connections between them become stronger.

In an artificial neural network, “stronger” means that synaptic weights
become numerically larger; in a biological one, the synapses physically
grow larger. The spines — mushroom-shaped protrusions that synapses
sit on — also bloom in size.

We know synapse size correlates with strength and storage capacity;
we can even watch them grow under fancy microscopes. . .

The question is: if synapse strength is a proxy for information storage,
how accurately can we retrieve that information by measuring the size
of the synapse?

Depending on how much information is stored, our guess is that the
physical size of the synapse is different; that is, the sizes are
in variable states, explained Sejnowski to Singularity Hub.

But synapses were previously thought to only come in three flavors:
small, medium and large. No one knew if sizes existed in more discre[te]
states or la[y] on a continuum. . .

The team. . . carefully examined the range of synapse sizes in
their reconstruction, which differed by a factor of 60 between
the smallest and the largest. Using signal detection theory, Bartol
estimated that synapses could exist in as many as 26 distinct states.

Oops! Last time I counted, my synapses had 27
distinct states.

That reminds me of a story I once read about a famous pianist
who refused to make player-piano recordings.

The player piano, or pianola as it was variously called,
certainly eliminated wrong notes. . . But perfection, as
promised in the advertisements, required more than that.
To most musically sensitive ears, the player piano continued
to sound as mechanical as it unarguably was. . .

In 1904 a German called Welte invented a device by means
of which a piano roll, properly perforated, could record
with a high degree of fidelity performances given by living
pianists. . .

In the case of Duo-Art rolls, there were sixteen degrees of
dynamic intensity deemed to be sufficient to cover all
extremes, and the most sensitive and finely graded
"crescendos" and "diminuendos" in between. When this
information was proudly revealed to the great pianist
Artur Schnabel, in a bid to secure his participation, he
shook his head regretfully. "Unfortunately," he replied,
"I use seventeen." . . .

-- _The Piano_, by Jeremy Siepmann

Ich bin die fesche Lola, der Liebling der Saison!
Ich hab' ein Pianola zu Haus' in mein' Salon. . .