Category Archives: nostalgia

What’s it like to be a brain?

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I started reading Elizabeth Costello because the premise was irresistible to me: an academic who, when invited to give talks about her literary work, gives herself over to impassioned sermons on vegetarianism. I have often had the impulse, just before giving a talk, to just … Read More

Hearing with a foreign accent

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Snellen-Chart-Long-Distant-Vision-Testing-Charts

claimtoken-51656045da7eb Although I knew I wanted to do cognitive neuroscience from early on in my graduate training, it would be years before I actually started taking pictures of brains with a giant magnet. Part of this was the availability of the equipment. When I was … Read More

A Story Behind a Paper – Part I

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Three-Eyed Frog Data

Happy New Year! I let The Magnet quench over the holidays, and am firing it back up with something a little bit different. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a longish series inspired by the “story behind the paper” posts on Tree of … Read More

It is not enough that Marcus succeed, Hinton must also fail.

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dschinghis

In the New Yorker’s Newsdesk blog last week, Gary Marcus expresses his skepticism of “deep learning,” an approach to artificial intelligence pioneered by Geoffrey Hinton that received some unusually high-profile coverage in the Times. I honestly don’t know enough about deep learning models to evaluate … Read More

Measuring magic and some thoughts on speed

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What’s going on in this picture? Marina Abramovic is being introduced. She is about to stand in front of 47 Russian “re-performers” in green jumpsuits, talking about the speed of life, the constant external stimulus of the communication age, and how this engenders a need … Read More

Defending reductionism, then not so much (Part I)

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Paris in the winter of 1995/96 — the city was chaos because of strikes prompted by a set of neoliberal “reforms.” I am a little embarrassed, in retrospect, by how little I engaged with or understood the enormity of what was going on around me. … Read More

The way of the zebra finch

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a male zebra finch and his song circuit

I have completely forgotten this person’s name, but I am going to call her Crystal Powers, because she so completely embodied a California archetype of the unmoored spiritualist. We were at a party after an art opening and she had asked about my job. At … Read More

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