Your brain does your shopping


WHAT

Today, you do your shopping. You know what you will buy.
Today, you do your shopping. They know what they are going to sell you!

WHY

Actually and generally speaking, if companies try to sell you services or tools, we can think that, in a way, they are useful to you, which means that they meet one of your needs. Thus it seems fair to you to pay them back. It is just about an exchange. Besides; we all know the social benefactions of having local shopkeepers, as a good shopkeeper is someone who maintains good relations with his customers, which really tries to answer their needs, not necessarily in a business logic: the efficiency of his business is finally a side effect of his natural altruism.

In this context appeared what we call the “marketing” science (“marketing” literally means “to merchandize”, “to make saleable”). The practical objective of this discipline is to optimize the sale of products or services of a company. It stands out in two sub-domains: analyzing the needs of the potential customers at first, and then managing to sell them the product or the service of the company that is supposed to meet the need.

The last evolutions of marketing designed what we call the neuro-marketing. This term was invented by the researcher in neurosciences called Read Montague. This term means the application to the marketing of the acquired knowledge in the field of neurosciences. Briefly, neuro-marketing does not try to sell products to your person, but to your brain.

HOW

Nowadays, we actually know that the perception we have of the world takes more after an intellectual construction than after a direct knowledge acquired by our senses. As an example, we know that nine on the ten neural connections binding the eye to the brain are used to send information from the brain to the eye. Only the one remaining is used to push the eye information to the brain1.

But if the customer isn’t your person anymore, but your brain. What does it mean? It means many things … If we call back the both sub-domains of marketing that we defined above, the neuro-marketing tries at first to identify the needs of your brain, and then to sell to it services or products. The needs of your brain are scientifically defined, no more by trying to know how live, but by categorizing you (with your age, your sex, your social memberships …), and then they try to meet them by “packaging” the product or service. Roughly, in neuro-marketing, your real need completely disappears, and it is not something concrete that is sold to you, but an image that was forged for your brain.

The marketing in itself is only a tool, neither good nor bad. It can cleverly make you discover a very good product (which can really improve your life) or urge you to buy some shit (addicting, dangerous material, etc.). The ethical question is situated after the marketing part.

WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT

As an example, Read Montague and his team showed in one of their studies that if, in blind test, consumers preferred Pepsi to Coke, they would prefer consuming the Coke when they see the product2. All the power of neuro-marketing is illustrated here.

In brief, because they say that your worst enemy is yourself, please, make sure that’s you and not your brain who’s buying products when you go shopping!

Today, you do your shopping. They know what they will sell to you. Today, you do your shopping. You know what you are going to buy!

Notes

1■ Idriss Aberkane, « Libérez votre cerveau », Ed. Robert Laffont, 2017, p.67.

2■ The Guardian 29 juin 2004

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Brain-inspired supercomputing system


IBM and the Air Force Research Laboratory are working to develop an artificial intelligence-based supercomputer with a neural network design that is inspired by the human brain.

The work involves building a supercomputer that behaves like a natural brain— in that these chips operate in a fashion similar to the synapses within a biological brain. The system is powered by a 64-chip array of the IBM TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System.

The scientist who works on it explain the idea in 2 minutes :

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Your environment makes you stupid


 

WHAT

Hello everybody! I have lots of different products for you today: cosmetics, paint, cans, furniture, plastic toys… And what’s the similarity between all these objects? That they contain endocrine disruptors1.

WHY

The endocrine disruptors that fulfil your everyday life environment not only have an effect on your physical health, but also on your mental health. And on the society.

We all have already heard about endocrine disruptors, we all know that these products are harmful for human beings, that men synthesizes them in large quantities and that they are largely spread in our environment. But we less often hear about the disastrous sanitary consequences – at a society scale – caused by this established fact. Although you don’t need to be brilliant to understand that high concentration of toxic products in the environment means global health issues for the population, the idea that the disease is not a particular case, on the individual scale, that it is not an accident, is hard to conceive. And that’s for sure because this almost never happened during the human kind’s history! Nevertheless, how couldn’t it be in the present context?

I recently read an article2 the concept of which interested me: because it handled the global, societal consequences of the endocrine disruptors issues, more than their effects on the individual human body, and also because it estimated the financial (!) cost of this issue for the society. So, the circle is completed: this article touches the junction between the environmental discourse and the financial one. An industrial solution destroying men (and nature) necessarily fights against its own topic (the search fot financial profit). What is the kind of a solution which result is counterproductive even towards the only objective it is supposed to achieve – to the detriment of all the other components of the problem – if not a bad one?

HOW

Let’s go for the heart of the subject: in March, 2015, a research team led by Leonardo Trasande from New York University School of Medicine showed that the annual cost of the consequences of the endocrine disruptors issues amounts to 157 billion euros a year (that is 1,28 % of the GDP) on the European Union extent. Their results are published on the website of the “Newspaper of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”. These costs are imputed to the means devoted to take care of the population affected by these products, the consequences

of which are, in bulk: cases of infantile backwardness, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for the intellectual consequences, diabetes, obesity and … assisted reproductive technologies (certain endocrine disruptors have reprotoxic effects) for the physical ones3.

WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT

In the end, we only can recommend to you to pay attention on what you buy, from the products of which you spread your body (shower gels, cosmetics) up to your food and their packaging. Thus, read the compositions of the products you buy and use, for the sake of your body, your mind and the society!

 

Look further / Useful link(s)

♦ Book « Endocrine Disruptors, Brain, and Behavior » (Oxford Series in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology) Hardcover – 1 Jun 2017
by Heather B. Patisaul (Author), Scott M. Belcher (Author)

Notes

1■ Website cancer-environnement.fr

2■ Le journal de l’environnement

3■ Le journal de l’environnement

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Depression: what if it was the thyroid?

 

Article in french magazine « Alternative Santé »

 

 

” The depression is not a disease “, explains Dr Brogan, psychiatrist and practitioner in integrative holistic medicine in New York. ” It is the sign of an imbalance in the body, that must be simply restored. ” The real underlying physiological cause of the depression, the faintness, the anxiety, the reduction in libido, and the fatigue of a woman is far from being only situated in the brain. Very often, the exact cause is not diagnosed and untreated: only the symptom is masked, often with massive amount of antidepressants.

The neurologist Joseph Coyle for example, of Harvard Medical School, declared in 2014: ” the chemical imbalance is a kind of thought of the last century. It is much more complicated than that. It is not because these symptoms were caused by a chemical kind of problem, that the medicine is capable of correcting it. ” The author adds, sarcastic: ” the aspirin lessens headaches, but headaches are not caused by a deficiency in aspirin. “

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Transhumanism in Paris La Villette

Specimens which we could soon cross in the street…

Liviu Babitz – La Villette 06/2017 – L BEAUDONNET / 20 MINUTES (in french)

 

“Liviu Babitz invented the “north sense”, an implant hung on the trunk which allows to perceive the North by small vibrations. It is not an instrument for the orientation, but a sense which allows to perceive the North when you like it or not, in the same way as we do not decide to hear the world which surrounds us, or in the same way as we do not remove the eyes after having looked at a movie. We do not choose when the sensible north gives us an information. More than 250 people were transplanted this new gadget and he gets ready to create new ones.”

Our opinion: sad, as all the transhumanist fantasies. But let’s try to laugh with it: it is small and it vibrates, a few ones may have the idea to be transplanted somewhere else…

 

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To quote or not to quote…

 

 

…that is the question!

 

 

Many (cool) quotations spread on social networks; numerous are either inaccurate or awarded to the bad person.

On the one side, it is annoying if we want to be rigorous.

On the other side, the context of this sharing of inspiring quotations implies that it is not so bad in fact: we look for one-liners to make us feel better. Does a sentence need to be pronounced by someone famous to be cool?

In brief, concerning that above, somebody found the origin which does not come from Shakespeare, but from William A. Ward (1921-1994):

Before You (by William Arthur Ward)

Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.

 

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Did you say reCAPTCHA?


WHAT

Did you know you contribute to old books digitization by visiting websites?

WHY

I wanted to write this article to show you that even the daily and insignificant computing operations are in fact not insignificant… You doubtless already heard about “CAPTCHA”. It means “Completely Automated public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. It is a way to prove to the website that you want to visit,that you are a human being and not a robot (thus this device avoids websites to be spammed, or to see their data being massively downloaded, which would also slow down the internet traffic for the human visitors, or whatever).

The idea of reCAPTCHA1 is to use the human authentication on websites via the CAPTCHA technology to meet a need which has nothing to do with human authentication at first sight, and which is… to OCRise old books!!! (OCR for “Optical Character Recognition” means the translation in “digital” characters (i.e.: UTF-8 character set) of characters printed on papers or scanned as images. In plain language, it means to turn an old and damaged (and perhaps even hand writed) piece of paper into a numeric file.

Actually, digitizing old books provides numerous cultural advantages (among them: everybody can reach the same document simultaneously, even though this one exists in a unique paper copy only, the consultation of this document will not damage it, etc.) and therefore, massive operations of digitization were undertaken from the early 21th century.

However, for old documents, the automatic OCRization is complicated: de facto machines have difficulty in recognizing the printed characters, because these are not regular (because of the deterioration of the paper and the ink due to the time)… like in a CAPTCHA…

HOW

Concerning visitors, captchas appears often as an image containing a series of slightly distorted alphanumeric characters, a text field in which the visitor of the website has to type the characters showed on the image and a button designed to validate the manual data entry. On the image, the characters are not much distorted in order to allow a human being to recognize these, but are distorted enough not to be recognized by a machine. Concerning the website’s administrator, the image is bound to its textual version,which is recorded in a database, and when the CAPTCHA is subjected to the visitor, the website compares his answer with the textual version of the CAPTCHA that is stored in the database: if both match, then the website authorizes the human being to visit it; otherwise, a new CAPTCHA is subjected to the visitor.

The idea of reCAPTCHA is all in all of a childish simplicity: it is about making translate old documents … by human beings (!!!) who authenticate themselves as human beings to visit websites!!!

The idea is made possible by the very large number of websites using CAPTCHAs and thus very significant number of daily human authentications, which allows, literally, to translate word by word old books. The mechanism is the following one: a reCAPTCHA consists of two words: the first one is a classical CAPTCHA, used to know if the entity passing the test is human or not (it is considered as human if it manages to solve the CAPTCHA), the second one is the image of a word taken from an old book. If the entity managed to translate the first word, it is authorized to visit the website, and the translation which it gives of the second word is stored in memory. If several “human beings” translate the same image of the old book in the same way, their translation is “validated” and the digitization of the book progressed2.

WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT

In this way, over the only year of 2009, 20 years of archives of the New York Times were digitized3 with a reliability better than 99 %.1

Here is a beautiful example of human and machine collaboration!

NOTES

1■ Luis von Ahn, Ben Maurer, Colin McMillen, David Abraham et Manuel Blum, « reCAPTCHA: Human-Based Character Recognition via Web Security Measures », Science, vol. 321, no 5895,‎ 12 septembre 2008, p. 1465-1468 [Science mag’s article on reCAPTCHA]

2■ Journal du Geek

3■ ReCAPTCHA on Wikipedia

 

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