Why Your Neural Net is Uncertain in Different Ways

Distinguishing uncertainties helps us better understand neural networks. Neural networks are riddled with uncertainty. After feeding an input through a neural network to retrieve an output, we cannot be sure that the output we got is a correct description of…

The Stories We Tell Us About Ourselves

…how problems encountered in AI research mirror our own cognitive biases The brain is an intricate organ, with billions of neurons with trillions of connections forming a hugely intricate nonlinear dynamical system. It’s arguably the most complex structure in the…

The Epidemiology of Ideas

People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people. — Carl Jung A virus is an infectious agent that replicates in the living cell of a host organism. In a sense, a virus in itself is not alive. It instead relies on…

The Brain’s Most Precious Resource

The role of attention in neuroscience, deep learning, and everyday life The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the most intricate machines mankind has ever built. When it’s running, every second approximately one billion particles smash into each other…

More Is Different

On the limitations of reductionism “The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe”.P.W.Anderson What is the most real thing in the world? Is it the…

A Deaf Guy Gone Mad

While ACIT is an organization about critical thinking and science, we believe that the boundaries of art and science don’t always need to be so clear cut. That’s why we wanted to take up the opportunity of Beethoven’s 250th birthday…

Romanticism and the Divided Brain

How human history is shaped by neural anatomy “Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast, each seeks to rule without the other. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century,…

Alchemy and the Problems of Modern Science

How our biases and expectations keep shaping our results The 16th century was a turbulent time for Europe. With Luther’s reformation and Henry’s separation of the English from the Catholic Church (the original Brexit, if you will), the hold Rome…

The Difference between Left and Right

In times of increasing division between the Right and the Left, I want to spend a couple of minutes leaving all political tension and controversy aside, approaching the whole problem of Left and Right from a somewhat different angle. In…

A Non-Technical Guide to Turing Machines

..and how they can help us understand our DNA Photo by Brian Kostiuk – @BriKost on Unsplash Turing machines are the ultimate computers. A Universal Turing machine can compute so well, it can even compute other Turing machines that can…

Is the Brain a Quantum Computer?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay After the mildly clickbaity title, I have to start out with some honesty: we don’t really know if the brain is a quantum computer or not. But as with many a question we don’t…

There is no Clash between Art and Science

Learning from one of mankind’s greatest geniuses What did the inventor of the helicopter, the inventor of scuba diving gear, the first man to design a parachute, and the first person to correctly describe the blood flows in the heart…

The Geometry of Thought

…how the brain creates conceptual spaces By José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior [Public domain] We think every day, but it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly we mean by the word. When we try to understand thought, we have to grasp…

The Insignificance of Significance Testing

A case for overcoming the p-value Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash When is a scientific discovery really a discovery? When does a hunch about something that could be true turn into something mankind collectively holds to be true? The…

AlphaZero and the Beauty of the Artificial Mind

How self-learning AI could re-define our concepts of creativity The triumph of Google’s AlphaGo in 2016 against Go world champion Lee Sedol by 4:1 caused quite the stir that reached far beyond the Go community, with over a hundred million…

Why Time is so Annoying

A physicist’s letter of complaint “I have become Time, the destroyer of your desire to do physics.” Bhagavad Gita, approximate translation Every child knows what time is. It’s literally everywhere. Nothing makes sense without it. No one can even imagine…

The gene that (probably) changed history

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, — My friend, you would not tell with such high zest…

Smart is the old sexy

On the importance of Sexual Selection in the Evolution of Human Intelligence The question of how mankind got here is a curious one. How is it that we differ so profoundly from all the other animals on the planet? How…

The Bayesian Brain Hypothesis

How our brain evolved to look into the future If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not… Macbeth, William Shakespeare Life is riddled with uncertainty, and no one can tell…

What’s so weird about Quantum Mechanics

I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”  (R. Feynman) Quantum Mechanics (QM) is the “best” theory of the world physicists have at the moment (at least of everything apart from gravity). But it’s infamously hard to…