Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Friday, August 10, 2018
Norbert's recent post on the BSification of academic life skipped one particular wart that's at the front of my mind now that I'm in the middle of preparing classes for the coming semester: Learning Management Systems (LMS). In my case, it's Blackboard, but Moddle and Canvas are also common. It is a truth universally acknowledged that every LMS sucks. It's not even mail client territory, where the accepted truth is "all mail clients suck, but the one I use sucks less". LMS are slow, clunky, inflexible, do not support common standards, and quite generally feel like they're designed by people who couldn't cut it at a real software company. They try to do a million things, and don't do any of them well. Alright, this is where the rant will stop. Cathartic as it may be, these things have been discussed a million times. Originally I had an entire post here that explores how the abysmal state of LMS is caused by different kinds of academic BS, but I'd like to focus on something more positive instead: alternatives to LMS that work well for me and might be useful for you, too. If somebody really wants to hear me complain about LMS and the academic BS surrounding them, let me know in the comments and I'll post that part as a follow-up.
Monday, July 30, 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018
The piece focuses on the controversy of whether this can actually be "primitive cognition" noting that for many cognition is only something that brains can do (by brains kogneuro types mean ensembles of neurons). The fear is that this kind of research amounts to "'devaluing' of the specialness of the brain" (12). Others comfort these kogneuro fears by claiming that the "debate is arguably not a war about science, but about words" (13).
Both claims are wrongheaded. These studies are direct challenges to the standard cogneuro paradigm that brain computation is fundamentally inter-neuronal. This is what the Gallistel-King conjecture challenges. The work on slime molds and plants indicates that what fits the behavioral definitions of learning exist in organisms without the requisite neural nets. The conclusion is that neural nets are not necessary for learning. This surely points to the possibility that the standard picture in cog-neuro concerning the centrality of neural nets to cognition needs a fundamental rethink. In fact, it would be biologically amazing if intra-neuronal/cellular cognitive computation was possible and extant in lower organisms but higher organisms didn't use this computational power at all.
Read the review. The content is not news to FoLers. But the reactions to the work and the weird attempts to either discredit, downplay or reinterpret it is fun to look at. The significant thing, IMO, is that this stuff is becoming more and more mainstream. I think we might be on the edge of a big change of mind.