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.]

Web pages

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 Solaris Mozilla.

My occasional alternative news page.

Unpublished papers

  • 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.
  • GPSO 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 that excuse.
  • 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 while.
  • 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 mcpl.monroe.lib.in.us) .