Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games

In two previous articles (here and here), I summarized evidence countering the common fears about video games (that they are addictive and promote such maladies as social isolation, obesity, and violence). I also pointed there to evidence that the games may help children develop logical, literary, executive, and even social skills. Evidence has continued to mount, since then, concerning especially the cognitive benefits of such games.

The most recent issue of the American Journal of Play includes an article by researchers Adam Eichenbaum, Daphne Bavelier, and C. Shawn Green summarizing recent research demonstrating long-lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes–such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. Most of the research involves effects of action video games—that is, games that require players to move rapidly, keep track of many items at once, hold a good deal of information in their mind at once, and make split-second decisions. Many of the abilities tapped by such games are precisely those that psychologists consider to be the basic building blocks of intelligence.

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Posted in Cognition, Video games | Tagged ,

The spread of fake news by social bots

The massive spread of fake news has been identified as a major global risk and has been alleged to influence elections and threaten democracies. Communication, cognitive, social, and computer scientists are engaged in efforts to study the complex causes for the viral diffusion of digital misinformation and to develop solutions, while search and social media platforms are beginning to deploy countermeasures. However, to date, these efforts have been mainly informed by anecdotal evidence rather than systematic data. Here we analyze 14 million messages spreading 400 thousand claims on Twitter during and following the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and election. We find evidence that social bots play a key role in the spread of fake news. Accounts that actively spread misinformation are significantly more likely to be bots. Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users. Humans are vulnerable to this manipulation, retweeting bots who post false news. Successful sources of false and biased claims are heavily supported by social bots. These results suggest that curbing social bots may be an effective strategy for mitigating the spread of online misinformation.

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Posted in Fake news, Networks, Social network | Tagged , ,

Hipsters on Networks: How a Small Group of Individuals Can Lead to an Anti-Establishment Majority

The spread of opinions, memes, diseases, and “alternative facts” in a population depends both on the details of the spreading process and on the structure of the social and communication networks on which they spread. One feature that can change spreading dynamics substantially is heterogeneous behavior among different types of individuals in a social network. In this paper, we explore how \textit{anti-establishment} nodes (e.g., \textit{hipsters}) influence spreading dynamics of two competing products. We consider a model in which spreading follows a deterministic rule for updating node states in which an adjustable fraction pHip of the nodes in a network are hipsters, who always choose to adopt the product that they believe is the less popular of the two. The remaining nodes are conformists, who choose which product to adopt by considering only which products their immediate neighbors have adopted. We simulate our model on both synthetic and real networks, and we show that the hipsters have a major effect on the final fraction of people who adopt each product: even when only one of the two products exists at the beginning of the simulations, a very small fraction of hipsters in a network can still cause the other product to eventually become more popular. Our simulations also demonstrate that a time delay τ in the knowledge of the product distribution in a population has a large effect on the final distribution of product adoptions. Our simple model and analysis may help shed light on the road to success for anti-establishment choices in elections, as such success — and qualitative differences in final outcomes between competing products, political candidates, and so on — can arise rather generically from a small number of anti-establishment individuals and ordinary processes of social influence on normal individuals.

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Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice

Cognition Beyond the Brain challenges neurocentrism by advocating a systemic view of cognition based on investigating how action shapes the experience of thinking. The systemic view steers between extended functionalism and enactivism by stressing how living beings connect bodies, technologies, language and culture. Since human thinking depends on a cultural ecology, people connect biologically-based powers with extended systems and, by so doing, they constitute cognitive systems that reach across the skin. Biological interpretation exploits extended functional systems.

Illustrating distributed cognition, one set of chapters focus on computer mediated trust, work at a construction site, judgment aggregation and crime scene investigation. Turning to how bodies manufacture skills, the remaining chapters focus on interactivity or sense-saturated coordination. The feeling of doing is crucial to solving maths problems, learning about X rays, finding an invoice number, or launching a warhead in a film. People both participate in extended systems and exert individual responsibility. Brains manufacture a now to which selves are anchored: people can act automatically or, at times, vary habits and choose to author actions. In ontogenesis, a systemic view permits rationality to be seen as gaining mastery over world-side resources. Much evidence and argument thus speaks for reconnecting the study of computation, interactivity and human artifice. Taken together, this can drive a networks revolution that gives due cognitive importance to the perceivable world that lies beyond the brain.

Cognition Beyond the Brain is a valuable reference for researchers, practitioners and graduate students within the fields of Computer Science, Psychology, Linguistics and Cognitive Science.

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Posted in Brain, Cognition, Computers | Tagged , ,

Extended Cognition and the Dynamics of Algorithmic Skills

This book describes a novel methodology for studying algorithmic skills, intended as cognitive activities related to rule-based symbolic transformation, and argues that some human computational abilities may be interpreted and analyzed as genuine examples of extended cognition. It shows that the performance of these abilities relies not only on innate neurocognitive systems or language-related skills, but also on external tools and general agent–environment interactions. Further, it asserts that a low-level analysis, based on a set of core neurocognitive systems linking numbers and language, is not sufficient to explain some specific forms of high-level numerical skills, like those involved in algorithm execution. To this end, it reports on the design of a cognitive architecture for modeling all the relevant features involved in the execution of algorithmic strategies, including external tools, such as paper and pencils. The first part of the book discusses the philosophical premises for endorsing and justifying a position in philosophy of mind that links a modified form of computationalism with some recent theoretical and scientific developments, like those introduced by the so-called dynamical approach to cognition. The second part is dedicated to the description of a Turing-machine-inspired cognitive architecture, expressly designed to formalize all kinds of algorithmic strategies.

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Posted in Cognition, Computing, Distributed learning, Extended cognition, Extended mind | Tagged , , , ,

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric. We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

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Posted in Algorithms, Big data | Tagged ,

A silenciosa dominação por Algoritmos

Que são estas fórmulas matemáticas, base da Inteligência Artificial? Como impõem regras e condutas sociais — nunca debatidas e sempre a serviço do poder econômico? É possível inverter seu sentido?

A palavra “algoritmo” foi criada pelo matemático persa Muhammad ibs Musa al-Khwarizmi. Entre suas muitas inovações, o trabalho de al-Khwarizmi levou à criação da álgebra e do avançado sistema numeral hindo-árabe que usamos hoje. É a tradução para o latim do nome de al-Khwarizmi para “Algoritmi” – combinada numa mistura etimológica com a palavra grega para número (ἀριθμός, pronunciada “are-eeth-mos”) que resulta em “algoritmo”.

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Leia também: A silenciosa ditadura do algoritmo

Posted in Algorithms | Tagged

Techniques and Environments for Big Data Analysis

Provides recent advances in the fields of big data analysis.

The work presented in this book is a combination of theoretical advancements of big data analysis, cloud computing, and their potential applications in scientific computing. The theoretical advancements are supported with illustrative examples and its applications in handling real life problems. The applications are mostly undertaken from real life situations. The book discusses major issues pertaining to big data analysis using computational intelligence techniques and some issues of cloud computing. An elaborate bibliography is provided at the end of each chapter. The material in this book includes concepts, figures, graphs, and tables to guide researchers in the area of big data analysis and cloud computing.

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Posted in Analysis, Big data, Data, Data science | Tagged , , ,

Big Data: Principles and Best Practices of Scalable Real-time Data Systems

Web-scale applications like social networks, real-time analytics, or e-commerce sites deal with a lot of data, whose volume and velocity exceed the limits of traditional database systems. These applications require architectures built around clusters of machines to store and process data of any size, or speed. Fortunately, scale and simplicity are not mutually exclusive.

Big Data teaches you to build big data systems using an architecture designed specifically to capture and analyze web-scale data. This book presents the Lambda Architecture, a scalable, easy-to-understand approach that can be built and run by a small team. You’ll explore the theory of big data systems and how to implement them in practice. In addition to discovering a general framework for processing big data, you’ll learn specific technologies like Hadoop, Storm, and NoSQL databases.

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Posted in Big data, Data, Data science | Tagged , ,

Doing Data Science

Now that people are aware that data can make the difference in an election or a business model, data science as an occupation is gaining ground. But how can you get started working in a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary field that’s so clouded in hype? This insightful book, based on Columbia University’s Introduction to Data Science class, tells you what you need to know.

In many of these chapter-long lectures, data scientists from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and eBay share new algorithms, methods, and models by presenting case studies and the code they use. If you’re familiar with linear algebra, probability, and statistics, and have programming experience, this book is an ideal introduction to data science.

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