Monday, February 27, 2017

Q&A - 27/2

Prof. Kender

(Computer Vision lecturer,  Columbia U, Lecture 8).

Today we will look at optical illusions. Let's look at the pictures below.

It looks normal, but when we rotate both pictures 180 degrees,

It turns out the picture in the right is different from the one in the left, but our eyes could not catch it. The right picture was created by simply rotating the eyes and mouth of Mrs. Thatcher and flipping them [sorry Mrs. Thatcher! Academics love to bang on Reagan and Thatcher]. 

Why did I show this? [There is a book about] perception by Irvin Rock. He is a painter, he put out a book about optical illusions because, u know, painters were worried about it. Actually the main impulse to understand what makes people to screw up was astronomy - [astronomers] could not tell all the time if they were seeing the right things, right? How do u know our eyes or the camera is not fooling you?

So the reason why people study optical illusions is to see what are the failures of the heuristics of the human visual system in trying to deal with two dimensions and get back to three. The concern with illusions is that they should not happen if we were perfect machines. But the ultimate worm in the ultimate apple is that once you lose the 3rd dimension you never get it back. So you are guessing like crazy. You are guessing in the hardware in the eye, you are guessing in the software in the brain - but you are guessing. And sometimes you guess wrong. 


One of my scientific interests is machine vision - recovering 3D info from successive 2D images.  I believe a key piece in this area is projecting 3D shapes into 2D, then checking what happens in successive images. Following Kender, since we constantly make shit up in our heads, we can use and mimic that for computation. There is a plane there, a rock here, then we move somewhere else, we get confirmation for this hypothesis. If a rock was far away from me, it should have not have shifted to such degree when I took one step. In a larger sense the brain probably works like that in other areas too, in this hypothesis - check - confirm / reject mode. Crazy people are probably crazy because they  make shit up (like everyone else), but lost the ability to confirm their hypothesis'. 

Kender also talked about the famous painting-with-eyes-following-you optical illusion. This T-Rex model is built on that principle (the end of vid shows the trick). 

I believe there is a lot to learn from our inefficiencies, because our inefficiencies are probably optimal in some sense, optimal because they were enough to keep us alive, hence the ability stayed with us through evolution. 

Harvard Health Blog

[T]he impetus for reorganizing the entire healthcare system has to do with the regrettable state of healthcare in the United States. Currently, the healthcare finance structure is made of an impressively complicated network of multiple payers, involving both private and government health insurance options. Despite spending more on healthcare than comparable countries, the U.S. has the lowest life expectancy and performs poorly on a variety of health outcomes. Thus, our complex network of insurance plans is wasteful — in large part due to high administrative costs and lack of price control.[..]

Inequity is another major problem. The United States remains the only developed country without universal healthcare. The Affordable Care Act has made important gains toward improving and expanding health insurance coverage. However, it was never designed to provide universal healthcare and 30 million Americans remain uninsured.

In a single payer healthcare system, rather than multiple competing health insurance companies, a single public or quasi-public agency takes responsibility for financing healthcare for all residents. That is, everyone has health insurance under a one health insurance plan, and has access to necessary services — including doctors, hospitals, long-term care, prescription drugs, dentists and vision care. However, individuals may still choose where they receive care. It’s a lot like Medicare, hence the U.S. single payer nickname “Medicare-for-all.”

Proponents advocate that a single payer system would address several problems in the U.S. system. Universal health coverage would be a major step towards equality, especially for uninsured and underinsured Americans. Overall expenses and wasteful spending could be better controlled through cost control and lower administrative costs, as evidenced in other countries. Furthermore, a single payer system has more incentive to direct healthcare spending toward public health measures. For example, targeting funding towards childhood obesity prevention programs in elementary schools and daycares reduces the rates and complications of obesity more effectively and at lower costs than paying for doctor visits to recommend healthier diets and increased physical activity.[..]

[T]he major obstacles to adopting Medicare-for-all are political, rather than actual practical problems within the single payer structure. Stakeholders who stand to lose — such as health insurers, organized medicine, and pharmaceutical companies — represent a powerful opposition lobby. Public opinion needs to be redirected to focus on how the net benefits of a single payer system outweigh the tradeoffs discussed above. [..]

If the major barrier to implementing single payer healthcare in the U.S. is a matter of politics, the pathway forward will require mobilizing public support. A recent poll suggests 58% of Americans support Medicare-for-all. Interestingly, whereas a majority of physicians support transitioning to single payer, they are less likely to believe their colleagues share this opinion. This raises an interesting question of whether the “conventional wisdom” that it is too difficult to reorganize the healthcare insurance system overshadows actual public opinion.


Single-payer system is the way to go.


But then we are taking health insurance outside of market mechanism!


Not everything is suited for markets. Policing for example, is a service that is completely outside of market forces. Services that need to be out should be out, and -this is important- with clear delineation between what's in and what's out. Half-assed, half-in half-out systems are worse than opening the wrong services to market competition.


Republicans use the term "Obamacare" in a denigrating way, to hit Obama

Bam himself was fine with the word

See video.

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