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Leaving Milan

This is not the first time, always came back. Maybe this time is different, maybe not!

Mind-wandering seems to have evolved from walking

I walk when I really want to concentrate and think about new ideas. And there is a reason why I do that: it seems that I am actually using the same brain systems to walk and think.

Intuitively when we describe how we remember, we use verbs such as, travel and go back in time; verbs that have a motion connotation. It looks like we move within our memories when we actually plan or remember. It is only fitting then that the brain structures, involved in navigation and memory, seems to be the same.

Play time

I am compiling Node.js on a Raspberry Pi; it will take awhile. Later I will experiment with Node.js and then use the Pi as a NAS to stream videos at home. Fortunately I use Debian and have played with Node.js in the past, so setting everything up was fast and fun (as it should always be)!

Lately I have been working on abstract ideas and felt like I had to take sometime off and play with concrete toys, like programming.

What I like about Bitcoin and my personal note!

Bitcoin was created to decentralize money and will probably be used to achieve decentralized trust with group authority.

Ask Canadians if you want to understand Mr. Berlusconi

Non-Italian friends often ask why Italians have voted for Mr. Berlusconi for 20 years, and still do. I try hard, but it is next to impossible to explain; Italians, they say, are sometimes totally irrational.

Well, it seems like Italians are not alone, thanks to Canadians!

That Altavista moment

Remember when the best search engine was Altavista? Remember how frustrating it was to look for something on the Net? Search results would be mostly unrelated to what you where looking for, sometime adding a search term helped, but, even if Altavista had found what you were looking for, it would be buried under tens or hundreds of other results.

When Google came out, about 15 years ago, search changed instantly. Most results were relevant, and right there, at the top!

The meta-organism: the Internet and us, is it real?

The Internet has become part of the fabric of our lives; if we want to create the next big thing we must understand the relationship between the Internet and us and take it to a whole new level.

I have been pondering about this relationship since I sold my latest company, but I never felt compelled to write about it, and this is not the post I wanted to write, just a hint :-)

Self and Cognitive Systems in London

I'll be in Wimbledon for the next three weeks. Fortunately it is much cooler here than in Italy, so I can work more efficiently! I was expecting to sleep without mosquitoes, but unfortunately I found two of them in the room last night; they have probably come all the way from Milan, where they are a big pain! :-)

The art of free society

Lately I cannot travel too far for personal reasons, though I expect this to change sooner rather than later; so when I found online about the Unconventional Computation Conference to be held at Bicocca University in Milan, I decided to attend. Bicocca is 8 km away from my place, so I went there by bicycle; a bit dangerous in Milan, I must admit, because of the patchy bike lanes and crazy drivers, turned even crazier by the seasonal heat.

Neuromorphic demos from Capocaccia

One of the cool aspects of Capocaccia is that PHD students work hard on their demo projects.

During the two weeks workshop, students are crammed in a room, dubbed Disco (shorthand for Discotheque), filled with different types of wares. They create working applications based on neuromorphic technology. One such demo is Marc Osswald's holographic display; check the video below:

The state of Neuromorphic Engineering as seen from an outsider

Last week I was in Sardinia at the annual Capo Caccia Cognitive Neuromorphic Engineering Workshop organized by the University of Zurich. This was my third time at the workshop, so I now know many of the participants and it was good to get an update on their research and personal lives.

The brain is not a computer

Understanding the brain means being able to replicate some of its functions. A one page description, or a hundred pages will not do.

Current technologies, that allow us to emulate the brain, are all based in a way or another on Turing's work. Modern processors are different from Turing machines, although based on the same principles.

Change, change and change


It is finally becoming mainstream. Economists are slowly appreciating the fact that the current technological progress is so fast and runs so deep into the fabric of our world that it does not allow for a smooth adjustment, but it is actually a revolution that is affecting the economy, society and politics as a whole.

Neophiles vs. Neophobes: two extremes

I don't remember how I found this definition, but it is really something I could have written if I had to describe someone I know ;-)

Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

Brains and computers

In a paper by Kozma, I found an interesting citation from The Computer and the Brain, the book that John Von Neumann was writing when he died:

Do you have any idea how complex a cell is?

Check out this video produced by Harvard University. It is an amazing shot at trying to convey how complex a cell is. What you see is just a simplification of the actual inner workings because, in reality, the elements within the cell are all packed together in a way that would make visualization impossible; and yet the video shows an amazing complexity.

Old / new paper: Science and Complexity

Today I took sometime off to read a classical paper from Weaver: Science and Complexity.

The paper was published in 1948, many years before computers were first available at Universities, then on every desk and finally in every pocket. It was also published before DNA was discovered and then sequenced.

About Cognitive Neuromorphic Engineering

The two weeks I spent in Capocaccia were worth the trip. The Cognitive Neuromorphic Engineering workshop, organized by the University of Zurich, is an interesting mix of engineering, science, math and biology.

I was there four years ago, when the main topic was the design of the Neuromorphic chips that are now available for experiments, together with sensors like the Silicon Retina developed by Toby (watch the video below). 

Three not so simple questions

This is a rather cryptic post, so bare with me. I just want to remember where I am and maybe get some feedback. Let's get started:

1) Artificial Intelligence and mathematics are about solving problems that have been framed by a programmer or a mathematician. Can an automatic system frame problems, or do we always need a human in the loop?

2) Computer programs have inputs and outputs. At the very basic level these are just symbols to which the programmer gives meaning. How can the manipulation of symbols produce Intelligence?

Cognitive Neuromorphic Engineering Workshop

In a few days, I'll be attending the Cognitive Neuromorphic Engineering Workshop organized by the Institute of Neuroinformatics of the ETH in Zurich.

I was there 4 years ago, when I had just started to look into Biology Inspired Algorithms. It will be interesting to find out what has changed, what are the new theories and what has been abandoned.

Now, I have my own theories, and I am working to merge them with the Internet.

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by Dr. Radut