My exchange with Avram Chomsky

In recent times, I asked Avram (“Ave” for short):

Greetings, Professor Avram Chomsky. I am finding myself wondering: how does losing one’s ability in, say, a second-language affect (if at all), one’s memories of conversations one had in that language? Perhaps in your journeys in linguistics you have not discovered this answer, but I did not know who else to ask.

Nikolay Sokolov

He replied:

Interesting question, but I’ve never seen any study of it.

This shows that my investigations have vexed even the greatest minds of our times and places! I try not to boast on this blog, but sometimes the going gets hard! I think you’d do the same!

The embodied mind

It is clear from this new research that my trans-brain thesis is gaining increasingly entropic momentum, even among philosophers. It irks me beyond many measures how many people tend to rename it, however.

For the hundreds of new readers I get every day who may not have heard, my trans-brain thesis has been developed at various places in this journal. For example:

Where is your brain? Everywhere! (Nov. 17th, 2008)

Lessons from 17th century optics (Sep. 9th, 2010)

Colin Allen and Robert Lurz confirm my trans-brain hypothesis (Feb. 21st, 2012)

You can find the rest under the brain studies category.

(You can click on the bluish words, if your wish commands it.)

Discretised wave equations


Can anyone please explain this to me? I can’t really figure out what the symbols mean.

Originally posted on What's new:

The wave equation is usually expressed in the form

$latex displaystyle partial_{tt} u – Delta u = 0&fg=000000$

where $latex {u colon {bf R} times {bf R}^d rightarrow {bf C}}&fg=000000$ is a function of both time $latex {t in {bf R}}&fg=000000$ and space $latex {x in {bf R}^d}&fg=000000$, with $latex {Delta}&fg=000000$ being the Laplacian operator. One can generalise this equation in a number of ways, for instance by replacing the spatial domain $latex {{bf R}^d}&fg=000000$ with some other manifold and replacing the Laplacian $latex {Delta}&fg=000000$ with the Laplace-Beltrami operator or adding lower order terms (such as a potential, or a coupling with a magnetic field). But for sake of discussion let us work with the classical wave equation on $latex {{bf R}^d}&fg=000000$. We will work formally in this post, being unconcerned with issues of convergence, justifying interchange of integrals, derivatives, or limits, etc.. One then has a conserved energy


View original 1,932 more words

Kevin Kelly endorses my trans-brain thesis

I’ve had a lot to say about my own trans-brain hypothesis. According to which is the following true: rather than be located primarily in the skull, the human brain (and probably animal brains) are located throughout the body. Notice that this is a moderate thesis – e.i. there are theses less moderate than mine. I’ll give you an example. The “Extended Mind” thesis.

Okay, I’ve said a lot. But what do other people say? In particular, what does famed scientists Kevin Kelly say? To get impossibly more specific, what does Kevin Kelly say to Joe Flower, on this website? I’m posting the answer here for the first time. I’ve put the part that most confirms my theory in bold.

Over the past few decades, people have worked very hard to build robots with artificial intelligence. One of the surprising discoveries that came out of that intense experience is that trying to make a central brain run things does not work. If you try to make a robot that walks, and you give it a brain that has some sort of eyes to see with, and give that brain the job of notifying the legs when to move, it will never fail to flop over. Using a centralized brain for the task of trying to anticipate the future and deal with change with just doesn’t work.

Some researchers found they made more headway when they started from the bottom up, instead of working from the top down. They decided to build intelligent robot that was only as smart as an ant. They had observed that ants walk really well. The little tiny ant’s brain did that job a lot better than any robot. So the researchers wondered how they were doing it. And they discovered something very interesting: when it comes to walking, most of the ant’s thinking and decision-making is not in its brain at all. It’s distributed. It’s in its legs.

Okay – so what you have to ask yourself is, why isn’t Kevin citing me? Perhaps it would hurt his credibility too much. But you know what, I care far more about the truth than about due credit. And I’m glad to see Kevin join the chorus of people who correctly endorse my trans-brain theory.

But what do small animals like ants have to do with humans, you wonder? That’s fairly easy. Like ants (and particularly ugly rats), humans are social creatures. Obviously the main vehicle of sociality – the mechanism, if I will – is the brain. Try to imagine brains without sociality? Didn’t think so. So by the transitive property of sociobiology, defended most recently by the alien researcher M.L. Henneman, it is safe – nay, invincible – to assume that the discovery extends to us.

(HT: Jason Rosenhouse, Chad Orzel, and E.O. Wilson)