Stage 1: Confusion
Why is he suddenly talking about hypersurfaces, fractals, 7 dimensions? What happened
to that interesting problem about similar phonemes? Hmmm... maybe he is using these terms
in a layman's sense, to convey a concept ... no, he believes he is using them correctly.
Have I misunderstood this? Is this not a science article?
Well, in any case, some gentle criticism is in order. Ah, now I see. It is the pictures of fractals, not
the mathematics, not the science, that hooked him. Sadly, I've seen it happen to a lot of smart people.
Oh well, people around here are clueful
enough. This won't last an hour in the queue, but let's hope it is resubmitted to editing and
we can get a decent write-up. It's been a while since we had a decent scientific discussion here.
Stage 2: Incredulity
Man, people are buying this! What gives?
Where did the number 7 come from? Oh, God!
And why do they believe that to connect seven things you need
seven dimensions? My neurons are connected to hundreds of neighbors, happily firing away in three
dimensions. In what sense could all of this be fractal? Why hasn't someone queried him on self-similarity,
Did the mere mention of a hypersurface freeze them like a deer in headlights?
Are they mesmerized by the words "fractal dimension"? They are all in front of computers,
why don't they look it up? If you haven't, do it now! It's nothing you shouldn't be able to grasp.
And there he is talking about neocortices and brain layers. There is certainly no biological
model for the brain as a whole yet. Did he just make this up?
Why aren't people asking for links and references about that?
Well, not everyone has studied computer science or mathematics but, in general, these are educated people. Isn't the mark of education being able to review an unfamiliar subject and be able to raise the red bullshit flag?
Well, at least a few people idly wondered
if it made sense to jump from a 1994 computer program and a macro-level observation
of the brain's layers to a ... what did he call it again ? Yeh, that thing.
Stage 3: Anger
You Are Fools.
Stage 4: Theorizing
Looking at the front page now, I see some good stories. There is Egil Skeggissons Naked Lunch series ...
not my cup of tea, but good stuff. There is localroger's Orson Scott Card article with a massive 660
comments. A fine debate! Even if he is missing a dimension from his fractal hypersurface. There is a great
Baldrson article, ironically about artificial intelligence.
So yes, some good stories. So when a flawed article came up came up in a topic
that a goodly proportion of Kuro5hin readers
should have at least some partial expertise in, why did it get through?
During "Stage 3" I wondered to myself,
should I submit an article on fractal dimensions to the queue? But ... no. I couldn't
make that an interesting article. I could probably submit a boring one, if I refreshed my memory a little,
but I don't think it would be voted up.
Have you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I did, quite some years ago.
The protagonist in that book
helped me verbalize a concept that had been growing in me for some time: that I saw beauty in detail,
in the mechanics of things, in the pieces, not just the whole. A lot of you are the same: programmers,
for one, often feel that way. Where someone sees a page of text, you see an algorithm. Where someone sees
a pile of old junk, you see a 386 firewall.
When mindpixel says that "mind is a fractal self-organizing semantic-affective resonance map on the surface of a
seven-sphere" I feel a weird
cognitive dissonance. Because there is no substance there, no detail, no mechanics.
A lot of people commented that these
were really interesting ideas. I thought, well yes! They are very interesting! But those ideas were pulled
out of their natural habitats and thrown together like a bad piece of modern art. Their natural essence gone,
now they are only fancy words.
Turing tests, neural nets, artificial intelligence: these are romanticized by people.
Who hasn't secretly thought, man, I wish there really was a Bonzi Buddy on my computer, that I could
interact with? I've spent many, many hours myself wondering how a brain-similar learning computer might
work. But it is hard work. Check this recent news story about brain simulation. They are talking about
biological analysis of neurons, huge computer hardware setups. Decades of work!
That's enough to make even the most enthusiastic
amateur take a breath and step back.
It's so much easier to paint in the big picture without doing any of the work. And it helps a lot to
throw in words like Milnor Sphere, especially if
very few people unfamiliar with grad-level mathematics
will know what that means.
Stage 5: Resignation
This is a community site, not my site, and well, the people deserve the stories they vote in.
A lot of the stories pass through unread by me anyway;
I'll just pretend not to see it.
I have nothing against mindpixel. I honestly am glad he went to the trouble to contribute to the site. I just
wish that he didn't feel the need to embellish his article. I want to read articles on developments in AI,
and I want to see mathematics discussed here. But I don't want to accept poor substitutes. Better to see
updates to a dull theory
making slow progress, than a fantastic voyage with no connection to reality.
A professor once gave me some good advice for choosing courses at university. "Read the course descriptions, and
go with the most boring sounding courses. The real stuff sounds boring until you put in the effort to learn it.
The courses that sound good, have to, because the people writing the descriptions know
they aren't worth the effort."
One of the things I like about Kuro5hin is that it
is pretty laidback. I don't have the energy for self-righteous advocacy.
Nor for mindless links.
And I am too cheap to explore other options. But most people here are,
I think, smarter than they often choose to appear. And when necessary, they show it.
So I hope this is an aberration, and in the future, unsubstantiated claims about hyperdimensional fractal
brain models get sent to f-1ction.