Today I presented a talk called “DevoWorm: raising the (Open)Worm" to the OpenWorm consortium Journal Club. This talk is an update on the current state of the DevoWorm project. DevoWorm is a collaborative attempt to simulate and theoretically re-interpret C. elegans development. The structure of the talk loosely follows the white paper, with some additional theoretical and translational information.

The DevoWorm group is also trying to organize/raise money for a “science hackathon”, which would greatly improve the state of the project [1]. Lots of discussion after the talk about the potential for future collaboration and the regenerative capacity of C. elegans (or lack thereof). The talk was recorded, and can be seen on YouTube here.

How much do you value history? According to Adam Gopnik [1], history provides us with multiple layers of context. A complexity theorist might find the dynamics at multiple timescales to be informative, which helps to make history unpredictable.

The historical perspective might also help us understand the development of virtual reality technology [2], which has followed a very unique path to realization. The Verge offers us a view into this interesting story.

[1] Gopnik, A.   Does it help to know history? New Yorker, August 28 (2014).

[2] Drummond, N. et.al   The Rise and Fall and Rise of Virtual Reality. TheVerge (2014).

Please vote for one of two Synthetic Daisies blog posts for the 3rd Annual Three Quarks Daily science prize. Courtesy Three Quarks Daily blog. Please visit the contest site and vote for the following posts: 

1) Playing the Long Game of Human Biological Variation, Synthetic Daisies.

2) Carnival of Evolution #70: the game of evolution, Synthetic Daisies.

You can place votes for other posts as well (I don’t want to be pushy, after all). Looks like a good competition. I will keep you updated as to the outcome of this contest, so stay tuned!

Today I offer a few papers on argumentation, game theory, and culture. My notes below — I am sure this will morph into a full-scale blog post at some point. A good reading list (short but dense) nonetheless.

Brandenburger, A. and Keisler, H.J.   An Impossibility Theorem on Beliefs in Games. Studia Logica, 84(2), 211-240 (2006).

* shows that any two-player game is embedded in a system of reflexive, meta-cognitive beliefs. Players not only model payoffs that maximize their utility, but also model the beliefs of the other player. The resulting “belief model” cannot be completely self-consistent: beliefs about beliefs have holes which serve as sources of logical incompleteness.

What is Russell’s Paradox? Scientific American, August 17 (1998).

* intorduction to a logical paradox which can be resolved by distinguishing between sets and sets that describe sets using a hierarchical classification method. This paradox is the basis for the Brandenburger and Keisler paper.

Mercier, H. and Sperber, D.   Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34, 57-111 (2011).

The Argumentative Theory: a conversation with Hugo Mercier. Edge Magazine, April 27 (2011).

Oaksford, M.   Normativity, interpretation, and Bayesian models. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 332 (2014).

* a new-ish take on culture and cognition called argumentation theory. Rather than reasoning to maximize individual utility, reasoning is done to maximize argumentative context. This includes decision-making that optimizes ideonational consistency. This theory predicts phenomena such as epistemic closure, and might be thought of as a postmodern version of rational agent theory. 

There also seems to be an underlying connection between the “holes” is a culturally-specific argument and the phenomenon of conceptual blending, but that is a topic for another post.

For the last several months, I have been working on a paper called “Animal-oriented Virtual Environments: illusion, dilation, and discovery" that is now published at F1000 Research (also available as a pre-print at PeerJ). This is a paper that has gone through several iterations, from a short 1800-word piece (first draft) to a full-length article. This includes several stages of editor-driven peer review, and took approximately nine months. Read more at Synthetic Daisies blog.

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