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Our Team – The Tiny Blue Dot Foundation
Elizabeth Koch is the co-founder of Tiny Blue Dot consciousness research foundation. She is co-founder and CEO of Catapult, a publishing company and writers’ community that uses extraordinary storytelling as a means of catalyzing empathy.
brain  consciousness  foundations  curiosity  storytelling 
4 days ago by GreggInCA
Pantheon - Visualizations
Pantheon is a project from the Macro Connections group at The MIT Media Lab. We are a team of designers, engineers, and scientists working collaboratively to quantify, analyze, measure and visualize global culture.
history  fascinating  curiosity 
7 days ago by naijeru
Landscape as a Cabinet of Curiosities
Picking up on architecture’s tradition of teaching professional experience to students through conversation, this book provides insight into the ideas, methods, and memories of Günther Vogt,and questions the attitude that this innovative landscape architect adopts towards his profession.With reference to five different locations, Günther Vogt speaks about current themes of landscape architecture and its relationship to architecture and the city, about his teaching at the ETH Zürich, and about the work of Vogt Landscape Architects; he describes his perception of the lanscape as a cabinet of curiostities, tells how he collects various phenomena and individual elements, relates them to each other and rearranges them. And in the reader’s mind’s eye unfolds a cosmos, in which the lack of wholeness of “the landscape” seems to be a gain rather than a loss.
landscape  design  curiosity  book 
8 days ago by fogfish
Interesting Esoterica
This site hosts my list of interesting and unusual papers that I have collected over the years.

Many of the references are kept here so I can easily find them again when I want to tell someone about the really interesting idea they contain; others are here only because they caught my eye when I first came across them.

I hope you enjoy them!
academic  mathematics  curiosity  Papers 
8 days ago by motdiem
Together: The Rituals Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation with Richard Sennett - YouTube
"New York University sociologist and historian Richard Sennett addresses the phenomenon of why people tend to avoid engaging with others who are different, leading to a modern politics of the tribe rather than the city. In this thought-provoking talk, Sennett offers ideas on what might be done to encourage people to live with others who are racially, ethnically, religiously or economically unlike themselves. [3/2012] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 23304]"
tichardsennett  togetherness  community  2012  empathy  sympathy  design  ethnography  sociology  diversity  difference  curiosity  segregation  self-segregation  openness  openminded  jeromebruner  cognition  xenophobia  xenophilia  tribes  politics 
14 days ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Useless Knowledge Begets New Horizons
Jan. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist.

Fundamental discoveries don’t always have practical uses, but they have soul-saving applications......In October 1939, as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were plunging the world into war, an American educational reformer named Abraham Flexner published an essay in Harper’s magazine under the marvelous title, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.”

Noting the way in which the concerns of modern education increasingly turned toward worldly problems and practical vocations, Flexner made a plea for “the cultivation of curiosity” for its own sake.....The marriage of disinterested science and technological wizardry on the farthest-flung adventures of the human race is what John Adams had in mind when he wrote that he had to “study Politicks and War that my sons may have the liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy.” It is among the greatest fulfillments of the American dream.....Typically, we think of the American dream in materialistic terms — a well-paid job; a half-acre lot; children with better opportunities than our own. Or we think of it in political terms, as an ever-expanding domain of ever-greater freedom and equality.

But prosperity, freedom, equality for what? The deep critique of the liberal society is that it refuses on principle to supply an answer: Each of us lives in pursuit of a notion of happiness that is utterly subjective, generally acquisitive and almost inevitably out of reach — what psychologists call the “hedonic treadmill.” Religious cults and authoritarian systems work differently: Purposes are given, answers supplied, questions discouraged or forbidden, and the burdens of individual choice and moral agency are largely lifted. They are dictatorships of meaning.....Flexner’s case for such untrammeled freedom isn’t that it’s a good unto itself. Freedom also produces a lot of garbage. His case is that freedom is the license the roving mind requires to go down any path it chooses and go as far as the paths may lead. This is how fundamental discoveries — a.k.a., “useless knowledge” — are usually made: not so much by hunting for something specific, but by wandering with an interested eye amid the unknown. It’s also how countries attract and cultivate genius — by protecting a space of unlimited intellectual permission, regardless of outcome....All of this, of course, has its ultimate uses — hence the “usefulness” of Flexner’s title. Newton’s third law of motion begets, after 250 years, the age of the rocket; the discovery of the double helix delivers, several decades later, Crispr. It’s also how nations gain or lose greatness. The “reorganized” universities of fascist Italy and Germany had no place for Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi or Albert Einstein. They became the Allies’ ultimate weapon in World War II.

Which brings us back to New Horizons, Osiris-Rex, InSight and every other piece of gear flying through the heavens at taxpayer expense and piling up data atop our already vast stores of useless knowledge. What are they doing to reduce poverty? Nothing. Environmental degradation? Zippo. The opioid crisis? Still less.

And yet, in being the kind of society that does this kind of thing — that is, the kind that sends probes to the edge of the solar system; underwrites the scientific establishment that knows how to design and deploy these probes; believes in the value of knowledge for its own sake; cultivates habits of truthfulness, openness, collaboration and risk-taking; enlists the public in the experience, and shares the findings with the rest of the world — we also discover the highest use for useless knowledge: Not that it may someday have some life-saving application on earth, though it might, but that it has a soul-saving application in the here and now, reminding us that the human race is not a slave to questions of utility alone.
breakthroughs  Bret_Stephens  Colleges_&_Universities  curiosity  exploration  expeditions  free_speech  free_will  freedom  knowledge  op-ed  serendipity  soul-enriching  space_exploration  the_American_dream 
19 days ago by jerryking
Reinforcement Learning with Prediction-Based Rewards
We’ve developed Random Network Distillation (RND), a prediction-based method for encouraging reinforcement learning agents to explore their environments through curiosity, which for the first time1 exceeds average human performance on Montezuma’s Revenge. RND achieves state-of-the-art performance, periodically finds all 24 rooms and solves the first level without using demonstrations or having access to the underlying state of the game.

RND incentivizes visiting unfamiliar states by measuring how hard it is to predict the output of a fixed random neural network on visited states. In unfamiliar states it’s hard to guess the output, and hence the reward is high. It can be applied to any reinforcement learning algorithm, is simple to implement and efficient to scale. Below we release a reference implementation of RND that can reproduce the results from our paper.
machine-learning  reinforcement-learning  curiosity  the-mangle-in-practice  to-write-about  also-note-presentation 
6 weeks ago by Vaguery

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