Monday, 11 April 2016

Brain - The Last Frontier
Brain - The Last Frontier by Matteo Farinella
Regular visitors to my blog know that I believe that thinking creatively "outside the box" is an important part of science. Recently I have been introducing many of my science posts with a short summary of the issue in the form of a limerick - because it is a challenge to get the essence of a scientific idea into a few human-friendly words. I also like photography and I am creating a record of the area where I live with occasional posts on my Remembering Tring blog - but like to include some of the more creative shots on this blog under the heading "Captured by the Camera."

However there is no point in giving me a pen or paintbrush  because any attempt to produce an attractive picture using such tools would be a complete waste of time - and I admire those who can combine artistry with science. I was therefore delighted to learn of Matteo Farinella's blog.

Matteo is a scientist who did a Ph.D. in computational neuroscientist - and then decided to become a freelance cartoonist. He has just become a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University with the goal of creating "a new paradigm for interdisciplinary university-sponsored research to advance understanding of mind, brain, and behavior, and the social foundations and consequences of new neuroscientific findings."

I wish Matteo well in his endeavours and will certainly be following his blog with interest.  My feelings are that much existing research in computational studies of the brain are so deeply involved in"fine science" and "sophisticated mathematics" that the human side is forgotten. Matteo's cartoons could bring in a welcome breath of fresh air.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Leo Computer Society Reunion

The Leo Computer Society committee line up for a photograph.
I spent a most enjoyable day at this meeting talking to old colleagues and came away with a lot of interesting ideas relevant to my research - which I hope to follow up on this blog over the next few weeks.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Link between Codil and the Evolution of Human Intelligence

The following notes have been prepared for the Leo Computer Society Reunion on April 10th. It is a brief summary describing the link between the original observations made of how salesmen understood complex sales contracts at Shell Mex and BP and later research in CODIL. It also outlines the recent reassessment which relates the earlier work to neural nets and the relevant to research into human intelligence. If you want to know more do not hesitate to contact me.

The Surprising Connection between the Leo III and Research into the Evolution of Human Intelligence
by Chris Reynolds
10th April, 2016

In 1967 I was asked to look in detail at the Shell Mex & BP sales accounting programs which ran on their Leo 3 computers at Hemel Hempstead. The aim was to see how they might be moved to the next generation of computers – which would have computer terminals. The result was a proposal for a computer with a user-friendly symbolic assembly language called CODIL (COntext Dependent Information Language). Nearly 60 years later it is possible to link my original observations on how salesmen though about contracts with a model of how human intelligence may have evolved. This note briefly explains the link and suggests that some way should be found to re-vitalize the research.