School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM Ghost Machine

Visit to Eastside Projects Birmingham
Friday 9th Nov 2018
Now includes 20 min video, below.
Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham

For more on Eastside Birmingham UK see

Installed: 16 Nov 2018
Last updated: 11 Dec 2018
This document is

A partial index of discussion notes in this directory is in

My Second Eastside visit

I was originally invited to talk about consciousness at Eastside Gallery (as it was then called) in 2011. Gavin Wade, the director, who had been there when I previously talked, invited me to talk again in November 2018.

I did not really fit into the two day event 9-10 Nov, which was described thus:

Friday 9-Saturday 10 November, 2018
Artist Run Multiverse Summit with Kunsthal Gent, Pallas Projects, Rabbits Road Press/Oomk, Transmission, White Pube. A gathering of artist run organisations from across the UK and Europe to celebrate, share ideas, eat and sleep together and make plans for the future.

But I agreed to give a 20 minute "interruption" in the middle of all that, on day 1, with this description:

- Title of your interruption
   Toddler space scientists

- A short description of your interruption (50 words)
Empty space includes billions of potential curved paths through which a wasp or a ball could move. Mathematicians have studied space for centuries, but it is also partially understood by many animals that see things in space, move through space, and manipulate things, including nest-building birds, animals that hunt for, peel, or tear open their food and pre-verbal human toddlers.
Note 1: the same cannot be said of current AI systems and robots, as pointed out in the talk.
Note 2: "billions" is an understatement!

My talk did not use slides but was recorded in the video below.

Video recording of the event

There is now a video recording of the whole first day, linked below. I have extracted my presentation, in this truncated version of the video:
Short recording (20 minutes)

Also available here:
I apologise for the fact that I was inaudible when I had to put the microphone down for a short time, to show how it is possible to link rubber bands into a chain, though linking the ends of the chain is impossible. The rubber band problem is summarised, and discussed, briefly, here, with pictures:
     Impossible rubber banditry (Also pdf)

My talk also mentioned a toddler with a pencil, exploring 3D topology. A short (4.5min) video with commentary is here:

Full recording of Day 1 (7 hours 19 minutes)
Also available here:
My session starts at 3:05:58 (Introduction), and ends at 3:23:00. There was no time for discussion.

After the event

After the event, there were some kind comments and a couple of pictures posted on Twitter, for which many thanks:
Eastside Projects (@eprjcts)
Rubber bands, squirrels, nuts, impossible problems, toddlers, pencils in holes, and artificial intelligence. Mathematician @aaronsloman on what is missing with computers and AI. #MultiverseSummit #evolution
Kelly Large (@large_kelly)
Space exploration via spinning #squirrels, elastic bands & the spatial reasoning of neurons amongst other mind bending things from @aaronsloman @#MultiversSummit yesterday @eprjcts

I don't know how to embed more of the comments that followed the above two here.

References and links

A random subset of additional links relevant to understanding spatial possibilities and impossibilities:
I apologise to all who like web pages to be full of eye-catching images and moving distractors (lost on blind users of the internet).
This work, and everything else on my website, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
If you use or comment on my ideas please include a URL if possible, so that readers can see the original, or the latest version.

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Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham