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ref: -2009 tags: Baldwin effect finches date: 02-22-2021 17:35 gmt revision:0 [head]

Evolutionary significance of phenotypic accommodation in novel environments: an empirical test of the Baldwin effect

Up until reading this, I had thought that the Balwin effect refers to the fact that when animals gain an ability to learn, this allows them to take new ecological roles without genotypic adaptation. This is a component of the effect, but is not the original meaning, which is opposite: when species adapt to a novel environment through phenotypic adptation (say adapting to colder weather through within-lifetime variation), evolution tends to push these changes into the germ line. This is something to the effect of Lamarkian evolution.

In the case of house finches, as discussed in the link above, this pertains to increased brood variability and sexual dimorphism due to varied maternal habits and hormones due to environmental stress. This variance is then rapidly operated on by natural selection to tune the finch to it's new enviroment, including Montana, where the single author did most of his investigation.

There are of course countless other details here, but still this is an illuminating demonstration of how evolution works to move information into the genome.

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ref: notes-0 tags: data effectiveness Norvig google statistics machine learning date: 12-06-2011 07:15 gmt revision:1 [0] [head]

The unreasonable effectiveness of data.

  • counterpoint to Eugene Wigner's "The Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences"
    • that is, math is not effective with people.
    • we should not look for elegant theories, rather embrace complexity and make use of extensive data. (google's mantra!!)
  • in 2006 google released a trillion-word corpus with all words up to 5 words long.
  • document translation and voice transcription are successful mostly because people need the services - there is demand.
    • Traditional natural language processing does not have such demand as of yet. Furthermore, it has required human-annotated data, which is expensive to produce.
  • simple models and a lot of data triumph more elaborate models based on less data.
    • for translation and any other application of ML to web data, n-gram models or linear classifiers work better than elaborate models that try to discover general rules.
  • much web data consists of individually rare but collectively frequent events.
  • because of a huge shared cognitive and cultural context, linguistic expression can be highly ambiguous and still often be understood correctly.
  • mention project halo - $10,000 per page of a chemistry textbook. (funded by DARPA)
  • ultimately suggest that there is so so much to explore now - just use unlabeled data with an unsupervised learning algorithm.

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ref: life-0 tags: IQ intelligence Flynn effect genetics facebook social utopia data machine learning date: 10-02-2009 14:19 gmt revision:1 [0] [head]


My theory on the Flynn effect - human intelligence IS increasing, and this is NOT stopping. Look at it from a ML perspective: there is more free time to get data, the data (and world) has almost unlimited complexity, the data is much higher quality and much easier to get (the vast internet & world!(travel)), there is (hopefully) more fuel to process that data (food!). Therefore, we are getting more complex, sophisticated, and intelligent. Also, the idea that less-intelligent people having more kids will somehow 'dilute' our genetic IQ is bullshit - intelligence is mostly a product of environment and education, and is tailored to the tasks we need to do; it is not (or only very weakly, except at the extremes) tied to the wetware. Besides, things are changing far too fast for genetics to follow.

Regarding this social media, like facebook and others, you could posit that social intelligence is increasing, along similar arguments to above: social data is seemingly more prevalent, more available, and people spend more time examining it. Yet this feels to be a weaker argument, as people have always been socializing, talking, etc., and I'm not sure if any of these social media have really increased it. Irregardless, people enjoy it - that's the important part.

My utopia for today :-)

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ref: engineering notes-0 tags: cascode amplifier jfet circuit audio miller effect input capacitance date: 03-03-2007 04:15 gmt revision:0 [head]


  • a good tutorial on using JFETs for audio amplifier applications
  • shows use of a cascode topology to reduce the miller input-capacitance.