Resolving the collision of public and private interests
Thinking About Consciousness
Unraveling nature's greatest mysteries
VIDEOS, PODCASTS & NEWSLETTERS
08 JUN 23
4:00PM MST Thursday
Who hasn't from time to time wondered about that little being in your head called "YOU?" It talks, it sings, reflects, calculates, it remembers, it even has feelings and can be creative. How does it do it? The associated intelligence has positioned mankind as unique. But maybe not, and not for long. Some believe it is just a matter of time before AI can exceed what our brains are capable of doing starting with being conscious. Read "Could A Large Language Model Be Conscious" HERE Is it possible? What are the implications?
Rather than begin by asking a computer scientist about consciousness, we've decided to start with someone familiar with how the brain works. Dr. Thomy Nilsson - Professor Emeritus from the University of Prince Edward Island has spent much of his career investigating the brain's mysteries. He has some startling answers to share in our webinar this week, answers starting with what is it to be conscious and the origin of mental images. We will defer discussion of “conscience” - our moral compass, as such an inquiry begs first an understanding of what it is to be conscious, to be aware, sense, perceive.
So join us, think about what it is to be conscious. Is it exclusive to humans? Will AI ever attain being sentient, being conscious, self aware? When in evolution did consciousness appear? Can you be aware when unconscious? How is awareness different for people without the sense of hearing or seeing? And deeper yet, how does the brain recognize something, create and manipulate images?
JUNE 8th 4:00PM MST
Dr. Thomy Nilsson is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Prince Edward Island, a graduate of the University of Alberta, and undergraduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His extensive research HERE including vision - has led to research on memory and neural networks, reading and optics. This has been accompanied by applied research including seniors quality of life, driving fatigue, the legibility of print, and photometry. He wrote his own textbooks for teaching statistics and for research methods in psychology. A handbook for his course on neurophysiology has some 14,000 reads on Research Gate.
Thomy recently published a series of experiments on memory for color and line geometry. Applying a novel measurement method used to reveal neural responses to sensory stimuli, he found memory response patterns which indicated that the neural activity used from memory strongly resembles the sensory response to those stimuli. Neural modeling demonstrated that such specific patterns would occur when memory decisions employing a basic correlation process and certain rates of memory decay. If memory does work in this manner, it would explain how we consciously and immediately recognize things.
He is currently revising A Glance at the Dance of Photons, a book that uses pictures and less technical terms to portray consciousness as a real world effect. First by showing how the physics of light makes possible an optical image of the world in the eye. Various examples then show how the visual system extracts the brightness, color and shape information from that image. The book ends with speculation (as it must be) on how those neural responses are synthesized to produce the “picture in your head.” It can then be argued that other aspects of consciousness similarly arise from the other senses and the brain’s control of the body.
Resolving the Collision of Public and Private Interests
Governing the Economy. Alberta has re-elected the UCP Party to govern, but the urban areas particularly Edmonton and now Calgary, didn't follow. As was illustrated and discussed in our series of webinars on the status of the Alberta economy HERE, the Edmonton Region - where Public Service interests prevail is weak in innovation and economic diversity with high expectations of government. Graham Hicks in the following article asks whether the Edmonton Region can be considered economically viable? HERE
Weathering Climate Change. NASA has generated and continues to generate research indicating climate warming. Some view the problem as existential, others view the so-called facts as baseless HERE. NASA may have an information bias, but graphs such as the following are certainly attention getting and worthy of discussion.
|Critiquing the NASA Earth Observatory graph.
Regulating AI. New generative AI applications continue to flourish while concerns grow that if unregulated, AI will pose an existential threat to mankind. Is this real or just another scream for attention? Regardless, even the developers are concerned and are partnering with government to set guardrails to ensure that new applications do not violate public norms. HERE Regardless, AI Investors are flocking in - the first $T AI darling Nvidia HERE
Fixing Public Health. Ahh yes, the ever concerning call for fixing if not reforming the healthcare system characterized as failing those it is to serve: extensive waiting, clogged emergency rooms, shortage of family doctors, unresponsive to a changing demographic - aging and immigration, and ever-increasing costs. Can the current system be fixed? Does it all boil down to inadequate public financing? Weigh in? Share your view and comments by replying to Editor@KEInetwork.net and contribute to the preparation of a series of podcasts/ webinar scheduled for the fall.
And Public Education. Does what we have cited above for healthcare also apply to public education? Students subjected to isolation during Covid are failing. Teachers are bailing. Unions are flailing for more money. Curriculums have become politicized. Who is attending to the needs of the students? HERE
Personalization About Time. For over a century the welfare state has been developing an adequate public service supply. At some point these systems need to reorient from building of supply to ensuring results for those who the systems were established for in the first place. The transition will not be easy, there are many interests aligned to retain the status quo. But more demanding, frustrated clients HERE and emerging technologies are aligned: precision medicine in health, tutouring in education, competition in government ... not US style, but a blend of public and private enterprise.
Crisis Management. Some view that to change requires a crisis. Mauldin looks at whether the US faced with a government spending shut down is finally coming to grips with the need for spending reform. He concludes "No!" and forecasts a more serious scenario looms ahead if the US does not take it's $14T debt more seriously? Is there a message here for all governments that continue to accept deficits and rising debt loads as acceptable. READ ON
Excessive Neo-liberalism. Is there a limit to being open minded when it comes to free expression? In a democracy there is an expectation that citizen behave "responsibly", that is - that private interests not conflict with public interests, such as would be the case when protesting becomes violent. Has neo-liberalism and free expression gone too far? HERE With no let up in sight, demonstrations to clamp down on free expression are too often becoming violent. We've explored just how serious a threat such action is to democracy HERE. We are returning to the topic for our season ending webcast June 15th with a presentation from Mark Milke, Executive Director of the Aristotle Foundation for Public Policy and author of The 1867 Project - Why Canada should be cherished - not cancelled. HERE