Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Friday, 2010-10-15; Dubrovnik from the Wall

IMG_3865Of course today despite my best efforts I got started really late. I should probably stop reading Slashdot so much, otherwise I need to be much more discriminating about what I waste my time on. I took a shower and all that, looked into further destinations, answered emails and messages, and didn't make it out until 1:30. I'd awoken at 9:30 or so. This will be unsustainable when I get back to having a job and such.

I did the walls - it was unbelievably magnificent. I think Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful places I've visited. Pictures don't even begin to do it justice.  Nevertheless.  I can only imagine how wonderful it is in nice weather. After that I chilled in the hostel for another hour or so.

IMG_3868I went to see if I could see the Fort Lovrijenac (this other fort in the adjacent picture), but it closed at 5:30, just when I got there. I noticed it was nearly sunset and decided to head up the cable car. It was all right, it only left every half-hour so sunset was pretty much finished by the time we got underway. It was a nice view but of course again, pictures can’t convey it.

I bought only a one-way ticket and intended to walk down; I went maybe 15 minutes the wrong way and it took kind of a while to get properly oriented and it was quite dark. I debated the wisdom of descending a hazardous path in the dark but whatever. I realized that I was made for this. I was exploring in the middle of the night at Stony Brook, long before I set foot out of the country.


Through some various tangents my mind wandered from this back into religion. Ah, yes.  It was long on my mind that it was so unfair that I just happen to be born into a family that believed the "right" thing, and that everyone else would be condemned. That may even be the most damning (ha) doubt, more than the psychology. I thought again, about the psychology, about the bit from Treachery, Faith and the Great River

Odo Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you believe the Founders are gods is because that's what they want you to believe? That they built it into your genetic code?
Weyoun 6 Of course they did. That's what gods do. After all, why be a god if there's no one to worship you?

…but it still seems likely that it's simply a cognitive artifact of needing to ascribe causality to everything. But again, it still leaves an empty universe-beginning story, reason, mechanism. So I guess I'm still somewhat "spiritual." I don't know. It still sort of sucks to think that in the end I, as everyone, will just disappear into nothingness.


So, I continued elaborating on my grammar/chess ideas. How does the brain automatically cluster? That is the question I keep coming to. I also realized, perhaps that is the key to the critical period: just that the lowest level of clustering is already fixed after that. Speech is clusters of sounds that make for phonemes, grammar is clusters of words that make sense together; that needs to be better fleshed out due to its recursive nature. But then it's all recursive.

I ruminated more on language: okay, how do I make something to analyze a corpus of words and figure out stems? From there can I have it judge what non-words are likely or unlikely to occur? (Compare "contracomputational" or whatever to "itewfdjsalf"). So how can I make it do that? I was thinking for each word, you compare each set of letter combinations (e.g. compare: co, om, mp, pa, ar, re; com, omp; etc), and for each possible set of combinations (that are in the database as having been encountered already) you increase or decrease its value, so given compare, com goes up, con goes down. I don't know, something like that.  (Perhaps just store the ones you encounter, and the absence of other combinations is ipso facto negative).

So from there, you can do the same thing with words (which should somehow be stored as morphemes, which should come from the stems, I think). So you see that "I know," "you know," "I do," "you do," etc. occur together whereas "I together" doesn't. So you should end up with a grammar but for the parts of speech. How the brain determines that automatically is tricky. More automatic hierarchicalization. How does the brain do that?

That task is analogous to chess, except chess is two-dimensional. It'd be too big to store every combination of pieces (just as it would letters), so it clusters the pieces as it does the letters, but how. I mean I know how neurologically, but how do I emulate that? I realized that you would need hefty parallelism (that's the brain after all), and thought for a second before I realized, "GPU!"

Hrm. I really feel like this should be doable. I am still always skeptical that there is anything "special" about any part of the brain, save that things just happen to be wired there. So in other words when born there is no specialization: the "language centers" develop just as a consequence of how the sensory inputs happen to be wired into it. Hm, no, I guess that falls apart for deafness and sign language, which uses the same parts of the brain as spoken language. Hm.

So isn't face recognition, chess, all that similar to first-language judgments? I also realized the letters themselves can be done in the same way (once I solve the clustering problem). I just show lots of texts without even explaining the meaning of it and eventually meaning should come out of it, if the various levels can manage to somehow be extracted.

Anyway so I got back and went to what I thought was Mea Culpa (the restaurant where I intended to be), but was actually neighboring "Domenica." Well, mea culpa. I had a pizza and wine for 60 kuna. 12 dollars, whatever. My notion of "expensive" has been somewhat skewed. I ordered, I think, fully in Croatian. The guy asked where I was from, thinking Russia. I guess I still speak it with a Russian accent, but at least not an English one; he was surprised when I said I was from New York.

When I got back I struggled to go through and tag the mounds of pictures I took on the walls. As I take more pictures and look at old ones I liked, I realize how terrible many of those are!

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