Data Skeptic

In this episode, Kozzy discusses his endeavors to compare the cognitive abilities of humans, animals, and AI programs. Specifically, we discussed object permanence, the ability to understand an object still exists in space even when you can’t see it. Our conversation traverses both philosophical and practical questions surrounding AI evaluation. We also learned about Animal AI 3, a gaming environment developed in Unity where AI programs and humans can go head-to-head to solve different problems in a gaming environment.

Direct download: evaluating-ai-abilities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am PDT

Théo Michelot has made a career out of tackling tough ecological questions using time-series data. How do scientists turn a series of GPS location observations over time into useful behavioral data? GPS tech has improved to the point that modern data sets are large and complex. In this episode, Théo takes us through his research and the application of Hidden Markov Models to complex time series data. If you have ever wondered what biologists do with data from those GPS collars you have seen on TV, this is the episode for you! 

Direct download: hmm-for-behavior.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Brian Taylor shares his research on magnetoreception. Animals like birds and sea turtles use magnetoreception to use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation, but it’s not a sense that’s well understood. Brian uses animal magnetoreception to engineer new ways to navigate the globe. Even cooler, he also takes hypotheses for how magnetoreception works in animals and uses computational simulations to digitally test them. Check out this episode to hear more about Brian’s research and learn more about this little known sensory ability. 

Direct download: bioinspired-engineering.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31am PDT

Modeling evolutionary processes goes way beyond the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium we all learned in biology class. Natural selection comes from many sources like resources availability, mate preferences, competition. Modeling entire populations of organisms of different species is the holy grail of digital evolution. Join our discussion with evolutionary biologist and software engineer Ben Haller to learn about his work on SLiM and how it helps other biologists model population genetics over time. 

Direct download: modelling-evolution.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm PDT