"Shut up and calculate" is the affliction we have when we substitute symbols for understanding.
Humans are linguistic bodies. A huge part of our brains has been exapted (verb form of exaptation) for language. Thus it's conceivable that our innate capabilities for understanding have diminished in use.
Simon DeDeo wrote an insightful tweetstorm about explanations that appear intuitive.
He argues that we feel an understanding when (1) it is explained to us in an intuitive way (2) which leads to a bias towards an intuitive explainer, that leads to (3) a belief in understanding whatever that explainer says.
This is a variation of the concept of a viral meme, with its bait and hook construction. The hook in this case isn't an idea but rather a personality. The cult of personality is prevalent not only is celebrity culture but also in the scientific domain.
Symbols are a double edge sword. The right kind of symbols can lead to insight that's unattainable with the wrong symbols. Think Roman versus Arabic numerals.
The reason why Arabic numerals work is that it exploits the 2-dimensional placing of digits when performing arithmetic. These symbols leverage our intuitive understanding of space.
Symbolic manipulation is driven by rewrite rules. These rewrite rules are not always intuitive. Rather, we just rote learn the rules and apply them mechanically. In some cases, we can manipulate symbols intuitively when we make use of intuitions about moving in space.
Category Theory makes use of diagrammatic symbols to assist in reasoning. This is perhaps why many practitioners attest to the human intuitive nature of the mathematical subject.
In general, we have innate abilities to reason about space. When we read or listen to a language, we translate what is said in a lower dimension into a higher dimension which we can understand.
The human mind is equipped to naturally understand similarity, adjacency, containment, and reference. When we have our symbols mapped into these frames, we automatically exapt the reasoning tools pre-built with these.
Thus it is interesting moving forward if we can build thinking tools that leverage knowledge about the workings of the human mind.

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More from @IntuitMachine

18 Oct
"The brain is a computer" is a damn problematic metaphor. I prefer to say that "the brain is an intuition machine".
The term computer is conventionally understood as to be a digital computer. It's the kind that we program. It's the kind that is designed by minds and manufactured in assembly lines. It's the kind that can't repair itself. It's the kind without any autonomy.
It is a horrible metaphor. The brain is an intuition machine is a better metaphor. It's that kind that learns from experience. It is the kind that develops in an inside-out manner. It is the kind that creates itself. It is the kind that repairs itself. It is autonomous.
Read 42 tweets
16 Oct
A good explanation of computational intractability and the notion of relevance realization. experiencemachines.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/fiv…. .
The above post has a follow up by @IrisVanRooij irisvanrooijcogsci.com/2020/01/01/sam… .
To summarize, biological brains do not approximate intractable problems. There's no such thing as being able to approximate intractable problems, this is a fiction that so many machine learning researchers fall into.
Read 5 tweets
16 Oct
Biological cognition is always based on computation subject to time and resource constraints (i.e. fast and frugal). The case where parallel computation cannot be recreated by sequential computation is precisely in this context.
Said differently, smaller brains do not have the same capabilities as larger brains. So when we talk about the notion of cognition or agency for insects or even single-cell life (without brains), we speak of a kind of behavior that is grossly simpler.
However, the computation performed by living things is very different from the computation performed by computers. This is because agency leads to an intentional stance. Intention is what constrains computations towards goals.
Read 9 tweets
15 Oct
So I got myself the Quest 2. I'm not a heavy VR user. Last time I used VR was when the Vive was released. So I skipped one generation of VR headsets. This is the 3rd gen.
The original Vive had 1080×1200 per eye. Quest 2 has 1832×1920 per eye. So the viewing experience is obviously superior. Adoption of VR will all depend on resolution. Seeing the world in low-res is a turn-off.
The 1st gen VR required some setup and was tethered to a computer. Quest 2 in contrast is untethered, the compute is on the headset itself. It's certainly much more convenient to use now that we are spoiled by our mobile devices.
Read 8 tweets
15 Oct
All that is significant emerges from the coupling of slow with fast processes.
The slow side implies a compression or memory process relative to the fast side. That said, there is always change, but the relative difference in speed of the two processes leads to an invariance. It is that emergent invariance that is significant.
The dual of invariance is tension. There are processes that lead to convergence (thus remaining the same) and there are features that are constantly driven towards diversity. All evolution requires push-pull dynamics.
Read 6 tweets
14 Oct
Is there a limit in what Deep Learning can't eventually do? matthewtancik.com/nerf
Deep Learning used to explore the cosmos:
Deep Learning used for simulations at the quantum level:
Read 5 tweets

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