Young Anderson and old Patterson had grocery stores in the same block. Eggs were the subject of their frequent price wars, with Anderson one time lowering the price of eggs by one-half. The next day Patterson had met the price. So on the third day Anderson lowered the price another third.
This pattern continued until finally Anderson went to the older man in despair and said, “I surrender. We’ve both been selling eggs at a loss for a long time.”
“Not me,” laughed Patterson. “You see, I’ve been buying my eggs from you.”
Humans vs. computers
We recently completed a huge project code for a system that makes close to 80,000 rule based (empirical decision tree) questions and answers while analyzing a problem. The interesting twist came when we applied an unusual technique to make hundreds of decisions based on a “degree” of accuracy.
To illustrate: When you decide to pick up a pencil, you move your arm and close your fingers around the pencil. How do you determine the proximity of hand motion to the pencil and how do you determine the strength at which to hold the pencil. Those are thousands of decisions made in a second by your brain.
Few would argue the grace and motion pattern you exhibited, while observing your eye hand movement and coordination. Yet, after you have done this motion repeatedly, it becomes so natural that you have to give it little effort of thought as the pattern becomes embedded into your mind.
Similarly, we applied degrees of measures so that when certain calculation are performed, the system will not simply calculate something to just True of False. There are literally several thousand variations between a Strong True and Weak True with a sixteen digit number measuring the strength of the indicator.
To further illustrate: If I write you a letter asking you for payment, the severity of the tone of contents in the letter is directly proportionate to the degree of delinquency and my experience of your payment pattern. But, I must take into account the loyal years you have been my customer and the longer those years are, the more I slide the scale of the “severity tone” so as to not completely stop you from doing business, whilst ensuring that you still get a letter requesting payment.
The above is a huge over simplification, but hopefully is of some use. I’ve been working on Expert Systems on mainframes and PC’s for over 10 years, and the more I learn, the less I know 🙂 I studied in Boston,MA at the AICorp headquarters for years.
Taxi drivers’ knowledge helps their brains grow
Cabbies really do have more grey matter to store all that information, scientists say
17 Dec 2006: Satellite navigation systems can stunt your brain, preventing it from developing, according to scientists. They have discovered that taxi drivers have actually grown more brain cells because of all the knowledge they keep in their heads.
When the scientists compared the brains of taxi drivers with those of other drivers, they found the cabbies had more grey matter in the area of the brain associated with memory.
They believe that this part of the brain, the mid-posterior hippocampus, is where black-cab drivers store a mental map of London, including up to 25,000 street names and the location of all the major tourist attractions.
The research is the first to show that the brains of adults can grow in response to specialist use. It has been known that areas of children’s brains can grow when they learn music or a language.
The scientists warn that increasingly widespread use of satellite navigation – expected to be one of the biggest-selling gifts this Christmas – could change all that.
“GPS [Global Positioning System] may have a big effect,” says Dr Eleanor Maguire, who led the research at University College London.
“We very much hope they don’t start using it. We believe this area of the brain increased in grey matter volume because of the huge amount or data they have to memorise.If they all start using GPS, that knowledge base will be less and possibly effect the brain changes we are seeing.”
In the study, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL’s Institute of Neurology carried out scans on the brains of 35 cabbies and bus drivers, all men. Various psychological tests were also carried out.
Using bus drivers meant that any brain differences found could not be explained by driving stress, or dealing with passengers and traffic in London. The one big difference between the two is that bus drivers stick to routes, while cabbies have to learn the layout of streets and the locations of thousands of places of interest to get an operating licence.
The results of the scans show that the mid-posterior hippocampus of all the cabbies was bigger and that they had more grey matter than the bus drivers.
Dr Maguire said: “We are now looking at the brains of taxi-drivers before they start training, and at those of retired cabbies to see whether that area of the brain gets smaller when it is not used.”