Damien Sullivan's Indiana Ramble
29 March 2006
I'm going for a joint PhD in computer and cognitive science here at Indiana
University Bloomington, working under the aegis of Douglas Hofstadter and the
CRCC aka FARG. My current
thesis goal is extending Metacat, giving it more memory and concept learning
ability, making it more self-aware. My life-motivation goals are creating
full, science-fictional, Turing-Test crushing AI. Or figuring out how humans
think. Ideally, both. It's a distant goal, but it's nice to have a dream.
Orals list, a proper subset of my
post-orals reading list
[15 Nov 2004; some just out of bed thoughts, which should end up somewhere
else. I'll be working in the Copycat domain, of letter string analogy
problems, and the Copycat and Metacat programs both don't solve a lot of
problems. But I remind myself that matching human performance isn't actually
the point. Metacat did more problems than Copycat, but the important thing
was more self-awareness, as well as being able to find justifications for
answers which it couldn't find on its own. Magnificat may do more problems
than Metacat but the important thing seems to be even more self-awareness and
memory and learning, and more awareness of its conversational partner. As far
as matching human behavior, the fact that Copycat doesn't have a left-to-right
bias is completely swamped by the fact that it couldn't catch itself going in
a loop. We at FARG think our micro-domains are richer and deeper than they
may at first appear, but our goal isn't to completely master the domain,
because we think that risks getting lost in irrelevant details. We just want
enough substance to make our exploration of concepts and creativity grounded
in something, as opposed to philosophical "well, I think creativity happens
like this, but we couldn't possibly test it." Stupid but creative beats
autistic domain mastery.]
My original web presence was at Caltech, natually enough. When I came here I
felt like I should do something with this space, but never settled on what,
and went through three versions in two years, vs. the two versions of my
personal pages in eleven years. Now I'm moving toward having most of "me" at
mindstalk.net, My Domain, and keeping this
page to research and Bloomington-local interests. So this page will be
shrinking as Incarnation Three stuff gets moved away.
[I entered IU in fall 2002, and started a web page
which turned into an intermittent 'blog'. Eh, I prefer journal. ("I keep
this diary, or really more of a journal, because journals are what scientists
call their diaries." -- Liz Parker, on "Roswell") Anyway, I've decided to
hit the reset button. It's Dr. Seuss's birthday today, so I should have made
some rhyme for this. But if I do that'll have to be late.]
[14 Oct 2004: Of course, I didn't think to date that last paragraph. At any
rate, that web page turned into a chaotic list of
unrelated links and quotations, so I'm resetting again. Probably much of it
should be dumped onto the "news page."]
Pictures from June 2003: close up and the setting, the highest point in Tennessee, the name of
which I forget. They both look a lot better (lighter) in xv than in my
My occasional alternative news page.
A couple of essays for my lab's list, on free
will and DNA regulation.
My paper for Hofstadter's group theory
class. Or in PDF form.
Local (Bloomington Indiana) interests
My review of local restaurants.
Housing Board. It's free!
Monday night: IU Swing
Club, which I'm finally sticking with after my third batch of lessons.
time. It probably helps this time that
I checked out some Count Basie CDs to listen to at home, with the results of
my becoming more familiar with the music (previously a foreign language, to my
ears wedded to Celtic, classical, and filk) as well as I think a somewhat
better dancer, as I practiced (on my own, alas) until the nervous system
suddenly seemed to have compiled the basic steps. And as of 1 Nov 2004 my
teacher seemed to approve of my Lindy Hop basic, and She Who Pours Forth
Criticism Like Water didn't have many complaints when I danced with her.
Since then I've joined the semi-monthly trek to Indianapolis, at the expense
of some Friday night gaming. This is one reason I don't get into role playing
games much: more urgent things tend to come up.
Wednesday night: Contra-dancing. I've done this
fairly regularly since March 2004, with breaks for "travelling the US" and
"dying of allergies", though attendance recently has dropped off, especially
of younger people, and I've been less enthused about going. But also on this
evening is Ballroom dance; I've just
gone to a few of their Wednesday night clubs and free mini-lessons, but it's
been a bit of fun. And also on this night is COG-X, where a bunch of cognitive scientists
get around, eat pizza, and discuss philosophy papers. Andy Clark started it
while he was here, and it's going on without him now that he's in the
picturesque city of Edinburgh. It may go on without me; I'm not sure I have
much taste for that sort of philosophy anymore. But it doesn't actually
conflict with dancing that much, especially on bike, so I can't use
Thursday night: Science
Fiction Discussion Group. We meet for dinner on Thursdays, except once a
month when we meet at Borders to discuss some book. I've been pretty regular
here too, since... I forget when. It's fun; I get to make people laugh with
the right comments, whether because our senses of humor align more or because
they're louder than other people I hang with so I notice more. ... but in
2005, I've joined an a capella group, so haven't seen the SFDG people in a
Friday night: IU Gamer's
Guild. What do geeks do on Friday nights? They get together and play
games. Lots of people, and the Halloween party was pretty fun.
Past: I used to be in Embracing
the Muse, a Changeling LARP game. This was mostly my first term here,
after meeting one of the Storytellers (GMs, in other cultures) through the
Irish dance lessons she offered for a while. Then I dropped out, partly from
conflicting things going on during game events (which would pretty much kill a
Sunday), and partly from lack of enthusiasm for my character or faction.
Though I did have fun on the mailing list, as my character argued the merits
Sidhe aristocracy. "Democracy is for mortals, who can't trust a chosen class,
but embody the dreams of superiority." Or something like that. I keep
thinking of getting re-involved, but not doing so.
Non-existent: I'd like to find a filk circle. I suppose I could
try to found one, if I knew of people who'd want to be in it. I know of one
other, and two points don't make a circle.
Monroe County Public Library
-- the local public library, and it's pretty good. Good SF purchasing, too.
Book sales on Tuesdays. Much, much, much nicer and faster online catalog than
IU's IUCrap, at least in the telnet interface (telnet