Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Neural networks

I just read an article about the up bringing of children. There is a discussion about the two extremes, caning and reasoning, and also some mixtures of the two. I might have mentioned before, another article I read some months back stating that it might not be so much dependent on the method, but the consistency of the rule or standard that underlines the method. For example, when on different occasions, a child acts in a particular desirable or undesirable way and he/she receive different reactions or responses from the parents, the child will be confused, find contradictions and inconsistencies.

Actually, many computer scientists and engineers should be very familiar with this phenomenon. For a number of decades, artificial neural networks (ANN) were implemented using mathematical models. On class of these ANN needs to be trained in order to perform in an acceptable way. The training effectiveness depends on the training data. If there were substantial portion of the training data has error, the ANN will probably not able to fulfill in role.

Now, we have to know that ANN is an artificial version of the neural network that scientists found in brains. I agree that brain is not the whole of a human being and therefore let alone the neural network in our brain. However, if the neural network in a child brain is fed with wrong training data by giving them different or even contradictory reactions and responses to the same behavior, then the that neural network will not be trained properly. This would result in the child behaving in a way that we label as undesirable.

So, may be some engineers and some psychiatrists should start working together for a better parental guideline in the up bringing of children.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Focus on the advantages

I think fairness exist. Or should I say relativity? Not too sure. It seems like every feature we have in us gives us some advantages and at the same time some disadvantages. In the past few days, I came across two articles that reflected the above.

First one is a study by some scientist about an already passed away artist. The research results argue that the artist had lazy eye based on the analysis of his paintings. He further hypothesizes that many other great artists could also have this problem. However, from another perspective, he indicated that this ‘problem’ could have made them great artists as it is easier for them to paint the 3D world on to a 2D plane.

Second one is a story about a Japanese boy who had lost his left arm. Despite of this, he still very much wanted to learn Judo. Later, a Judo Master accepted him as disciple. Many months passed by and he had only practiced one particular Judo skill. He once asked the Master shouldn’t he be taught of other skills? The Master told him that this one skill is enough. One day, he was sent to participate in a competition. Initially, with only one skill, he didn’t have the confidence. Still, he managed to clear the rounds and entered final. After wining many opponents who were more muscular then him, and eventually, he was the champion in the competition. On the way home, he wonders why he could win? So he asked the Master. The Master explained that the Judo skill you had mastered is very difficult to be overcome. In order to counter your skill is to grab your left arm. Thus, your missing left arm was a great advantage to you in the matches.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Influence or be influenced

Sigh, another close to a month gap between blog entries. Yesterday watched the first few minutes of a recorded speech. The speaker talks about during the time when millions of Jewish people were killed by the Germans, some of them alien themselves from those who were more likely to be killed by befriending with the Germans, they could be spared. However, gradually, this group of people went on the same destiny as the others.

The point he wanted to bring across is that in this current world when there are unrest and horrible killings going on, we should perceive such situations as our problems and put in effort to solve it. Otherwise, just like those Jews who had thought the killings of other Jews were not their problems and just tried to save themselves by lowering their risk of being killed, eventually, the evil environment grew and affected them. Similarly, when we watch news nowadays on terrible happenings around the world, we should have the attitude and mindset thinking that these are our problems and seek ways and opportunities to help to end such evil acts, directly or indirectly.

Similarly, I hope parents, who tell children not to go to certain places that are perceived as bad, can do more than that. Consider telling your children to influence other the same; discouraging other adults to visit such places; giving feedbacks to such places the wishes for them to remove the ‘bad’ impression by the general public; etc. Otherwise, if such ‘bad’ places were allow to flourish, very soon one day, there might have only such ‘bad’ places to go to!
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