October 26th, 2009


Testing Delicious posting - please ignore...


Relationship Win!

From a BBC article

Researchers studied interviews of more than 1,500 couples who were married or in a serious relationship.

Five years later, they followed up 1,000 of the couples to see which had lasted.

They found that if the wife was five or more years older than her husband, they were more than three times as likely to divorce than if they were the same age.

If the age gap is reversed, and the man is older than the woman, the odds of marital bliss are higher.

Add in a better education for the woman and the chances of lasting happiness improve further.


Bridging the gap

Imagine, for a moment, that there are two kinds of thought:
1) The kind that animals are good at - looking at clusters of "stuff" and associating it together.  So that "padding the sleeping human on the nose" = "breakfast" and "eating the food from the kitchen counter" = "having things thrown at you".  Lots of simple associations between things based on similarity and connection.  Everything is fuzzy, but you have the ability to create new associations as and when you need them.

2) The kind that computers are good at - taking a known "rule" and processing it incredibly fast to see where it leads.  Given the rules by which things attract each other via gravity, they can calculate exactly when and where a rocket fired from Earth will hit Mars.  Given a set of data and a set of logical operations to perform on it, computers are amazing.

The first kind is "induction", the second is "deduction".

People bridge these two worlds of thought - taking the simple associations of inductive thought and producing the kind of laws that can then be fed into computers and used to deduce new things.  Animals can watch things fall and learn how to get out of the way.  We can watch them fall and work out the laws that affect them, which we can then feed into computers, allowing us to perform feats that would be either staggeringly hard or impossible to perform by hand.  We have a foot in both worlds, and this has turned out to be very, very useful.

This is game changing.  It's not the first of its type - I've definitely read about similar things before.  But it's a computer system that, when pointed at the real world, was able to deduce simple physical laws and use them to make predictions.  It's the first step for computers out of deduction and into induction.

If they can extend this (and that's a very big if) it has the potential to change the world.