Is the universe a product of thermodynamic evolution? – Todd Hylton at TEDxSanDiego 2017

Todd Hylton suggests that the de facto assumption in most of the current scientific enterprise is that the organization of the universe is driven by a poorly understood or complex chain of causality that explains how everything works, and that the role of the scientist is to “get to the bottom of it”.

He begins his talk by questioning that no one can say with certainty how the universe came to be, but what if the answer was a non-mechanistic, anti-supernatural, evolutionary world view of how things came to exist? What if the big bang was simply an expression of pure potential leading to the creation, evolution, and existence of everything in the universe?

Could our existence be a product of thermodynamic evolution, he asks, and if so, can we someday build thermodynamic computers that evolve in the world on their own?

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Machine learning plus neuroscience equals biologically feasible computing – Benjamin Migliori at TEDx San Diego 2017

Benjamin begins by saying that it is not possible to make a correct assessment without perception. He argues we can train computers to identify, but humans make decisions based on personal experiences. In essence, the combination of human and artificial intelligence will define humanity’s future.

He shares a personal journey with his son who was born premature, and as a result of his untimely birth, his son’s experiences were different than those of other babies, in fact, some would say extraordinary. The algorithms of which his son perceives the world are different, as a result of his experiences, so his perception of the world is different as well. When Benjamin introduced his cat to his baby for the first time, he did not know what to expect, because each of them had a reason to be fearful of the other.

However, their connection was instant because both sets of algorithms were already established and able to respond, based on each of their experiences. He goes on to say that the process is much slower in teaching machines intelligence, as they need to process hundreds of algorithms to come up with the correct response in humans. But together, human and artificial intelligence will have an explosive effect on society.

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Postcards from the Future – Scott Klemmer at TEDxSanDiego 2016

Chances are someone in your life has imparted on you the mantra “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

In the world of design, this idea becomes a key aspect of prototypes. In fact, the very definition of prototype is “a first, typical or preliminary model of something, especially a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied.”

So why are prototypes so important to the world of design? According to Scott Klemmer, when you log onto a computer, chances are you’re part of an experiment. Here, designers are trying out different alternatives (or prototypes) to see what works best.

“I call this idea design at large,” said Klemmer, the co-founder and co-director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. “It’s real world, at scale, and we’re being able to compare alternatives and learn from what we’re finding.”

During his talk at TEDxSanDiego, Klemmer went on to give various examples of prototypes that at first did not succeed, not because the people were necessarily smarter than others around them (although yes, they were really smart), but because they tried lots of things.

So what makes prototypes particularly magical?

“Prototypes instantiate a future that doesn’t exist yet,” said Klemmer. “And what designers do is we time travel just a little bit into the future with our prototypes and once we know what the world is like there we can send back these post cards that give information about what to really make.”

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