Measuring Biology

Hi -- I just got a few minutes because a meeting I had scheduled for the hour between the most recent KLI symposium, Measuring Biology, and the associated boat trip got canceled.

The paper I submitted that I mentioned last time has got rejected, but I will just submit it somewhere else. I'm annoyed I haven't done this yet, but I didn't in Cambridge have access to the notes I had about journals to submit it to, and then since I've been here I've had to revise three other papers that got into AAAI symposia & write a new paper on consciousness from scratch. It is just a commentary about Dennett's model of consciousness which he is talking about here later this month. In keeping with what I learned as an MIT student I decided to make it interesting by being bold, so I basically hashed out a functionalist model that was in keeping with what he was saying, supported it with some examples from the behavioural neuroscience literature, and then claimed there are robots that already do this. I'm surprisingly pleased with the paper so will probably submit it somewhere -- after the resubmission of this & also one of the three conference papers is perfectly ready for a journal.

It's just about finding time -- I can't believe you can have papers lying there & not get them submitted. But I am massively behind on commenting on my student Hagen's PhD dissertation which he gave me a draft of & on a journal article review and on contacting an author for a book I'm editing. But the last three days I have been doing my KLI fellow duty & attending a workshop here. This time it was about Measuring Biology. Some of it was interesting, but basically it was kind of preaching to the choir. I guess I have been learning a lot about measurement this year. Also, two of the participants here were at U of Chicago right before I was (only as deans / professors, not students) so unsurprisingly I've already got the right model about what you are actually trying to communicate when you give a scientific result. It's not just "this is significant, True or False", it's about communicating the magnitude of the effect and the likelihood that your theory is a better account of it.

But they talked a lot about the role of a scientist in communicating -- not just discovering -- their work, and that gave me the idea of doing some totally unnecessary figures for the paper that got rejected, because I know people don't all follow the way I argue (or for that matter have time to really read a paper) so it would be better to just have a big picture showing lots of replications & statistical testing. So I'm leaving yet another run of the model running on my desktop this week so that I can get some simpler data for those figures.

There are a bunch of new fellows at the KLI and they are doing a much better job of demanding the institute be like a proper scientific institute should be -- a place to have conversations & give talks to other fellows & get feedback on your work. Before I think it was too hierarchical. So that's very exciting, although of course again time consuming!

No pictures this week -- I went from being thinner than usual at the end of July to barely fitting in my clothes now. This month is going to be hard too -- there is another workshop next weekend & then the consciousness thing the week after that, which as a speaker I'm invited to a lot of meals for.
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