Michael Forbes Wilcox

Author's posts

Georging

For the past few (4+) years, I have been a “Georger” — a person who uses the website http://www.wheresgeorge.com/ to track the movement of US currency that passes through my hands. I’ll have a lot more to say about this in future posts, I just wanted to start the conversation here with an observation about …

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Swarm Intelligence: I

I’ve been meaning for some time to write about swarm intelligence. The basic insights have been around for at least 30 years, and, since then, the ideas have percolated into awareness and are now appreciated outside the scientific community. One excellent summary can be found in Len Fisher’s 2009 book, The Perfect Swarm. I read this …

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Anxiety: Who? Me?

I’m participating in a panel on Friday (June 9) at Northeastern University on Anxiety, as part of the CHATTER event. Of course, I’m quite nervous about this. As part of my preparation (which helps to reduce anxiety), I have been reviewing my past talks and writings on the subject. I discovered that my blog does …

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The State of the World is on My Mind

For many years, most of my blogging was about politics. In the period from early 2005 until late in 2008, I devoted my energies to political organizing, and I wrote nearly every day about opportunities for people in my region (the western four counties of Massachusetts) to participate in activities in support of causes and …

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The Language of Autism: “Special Interest” as a Stigmatizing Phrase

When an a non-autistic person studies something deeply, it’s an “area of expertise,” and the acquisition of such expertise is considered a commendable accomplishment. When an autistic person studies something deeply, it’s a “special interest,” and it’s considered a symptom of pathology. #DoubleStandards Nick Walker Nick’s post on Facebook really hit home for me, because, …

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Another Candidate for my Autism Hall of Fame: John Couch Adams

Isaac Newton (1642-1726) is often mentioned (and rightly so, from what I can tell) as having probably been autistic. Now, I learn of a later-day (1819-1892) kindred spirit. John Couch Adams is known to history as having been hot on the trail of the discovery of Neptune, only to be beaten to the punch in 1846 …

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I Was Ahead of My Time (But I Knew That!)

Synopsis There is a new style of AI (artificial intelligence) that has, in recent years, taken the world by storm. Called Deep Learning, this approach has made possible self-driving cars, enhanced voice and image recognition, and audible translation from one language to another; to name just a few breakthroughs. Most of what we observe being …

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The Good Nudge

Another Obama program that may or may not survive in the new Administration. A recent (January 23, 2017) issue of The New Yorker contains an article (“Good Behavior“) that describes the final days of an Obama initiative to use behavioral science in the service of improving government performance. The article focuses on the Flint water …

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Look What I Got in the Mail

I was 15 years old. My grandmother had sent me this notecard. I knew it was coming, because she had told me about it. “Someday,” she told me, “you will be very proud to have this.” I didn’t have to wait; I was proud of it from the moment she told me about it. I …

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Let’s See if I Can Tape This All Together

What do cupcakes and chocolate have in common? I guess that’s pretty obvious, but Scotch Tape? In September 2009 Scientific American devoted an entire issue to “Origins” and I’ve chosen three of my favorites to link together here. First up: cupcakes: where and when were they invented, and whence the name?   If you click …

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