Thursday, September 30, 2021

Video primer on the physics of synchronization [Steven Strogatz]

Veritasium
10.2M subscribers

How does order spontaneously arise out of chaos? This video is sponsored by Kiwico — go to https://www.kiwico.com/Veritasium50 for 50% off your first month of any crate.

An enormous thanks to Prof. Steven Strogatz — this video would not have been possible without him. Much of the script-writing was inspired and informed by his wonderful book Sync, and his 2004 TED talk. He is a giant in this field, and has literally written the book on chaos, complexity, and synchronization. It was hard to find a paper in this field that Steven (or one of his students) didn't contribute to. His Podcast "The Joy of X" is wonderful — please listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts https://www.quantamagazine.org/tag/the-joy-of-x

Nicky Case's Amazing Firefly Interactive — https://ncase.me/fireflies

Great Kuramoto Model Interactive — https://www.complexity-explorables.org/explorables/ride-my-kuramotocycle/

References:

Strogatz, S. H. (2012). Sync: How order emerges from chaos in the universe, nature, and daily life. Hachette UK. — https://ve42.co/Sync

Strogatz, S. H. (2000). From Kuramoto to Crawford: exploring the onset of synchronization in populations of coupled oscillators. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 143(1-4), 1-20. — https://ve42.co/Strogatz2000

Goldsztein, G. H., Nadeau, A. N., & Strogatz, S. H. (2021). Synchronization of clocks and metronomes: A perturbation analysis based on multiple timescales. Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 31(2), 023109. — https://ve42.co/Goldsztein

The Broughton Suspension Bridge and the Resonance Disaster — https://ve42.co/Broughton

Bennett, M., Schatz, M. F., Rockwood, H., & Wiesenfeld, K. (2002). Huygens's clocks. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 458(2019), 563-579. — https://ve42.co/Bennett2002

Pantaleone, J. (2002). Synchronization of metronomes. American Journal of Physics, 70(10), 992-1000. — https://ve42.co/Pantaleone2002

Kuramoto, Y. (1975). Self-entrainment of a population of coupled non-linear oscillators. In International symposium on mathematical problems in theoretical physics (pp. 420-422). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. -- https://ve42.co/Kuramoto1975

Great video by Minute Earth about Tidal Locking and the Moon — https://ve42.co/MinuteEarth

Strogatz, S. H., Abrams, D. M., McRobie, A., Eckhardt, B., & Ott, E. (2005). Crowd synchrony on the Millennium Bridge. Nature, 438(7064), 43-44. — https://ve42.co/Strogatz2005

Zhabotinsky, A. M. (2007). Belousov-zhabotinsky reaction. Scholarpedia, 2(9), 1435. — https://ve42.co/Zhabotinsky2007

Flavio H Fenton et al. (2008) Cardiac arrhythmia. Scholarpedia, 3(7):1665. — https://ve42.co/Cardiac

Cherry, E. M., & Fenton, F. H. (2008). Visualization of spiral and scroll waves in simulated and experimental cardiac tissue. New Journal of Physics, 10(12), 125016. — https://ve42.co/Cherry2008

Tyson, J. J. (1994). What everyone should know about the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. In Frontiers in mathematical biology (pp. 569-587). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. — https://ve42.co/Tyson1994

Winfree, A. T. (2001). The geometry of biological time (Vol. 12). Springer Science & Business Media. — https://ve42.co/Winfree2001

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is skeptical about aliens visiting us in UFOs

One consideration: With all the images being made daily by smart phones, and all the images being made space-oriented telescopes and satellites and earth-oriented satellites, why don't any of them show these aliens. How come "aliens" only show up in UFOs picked up by Navy pilots? That is, why do we – some of us, anyhow – give so much credence to those images that we can't explain while at the same time ignoring the fact that those seem to be the only images in which these "aliens" betray their presence?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Deep Learning for software engineering, a survey of the literature

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Deep learning's diminishing returns

How Aardman does stop-motion animation [Adam Savage]

On a Shooting Set of Aardman Animations' Early Man!

Adam Savage’s Tested

Adam Savage steps onto one of the film stages at Aardman Animations, where a complex and detailed miniatures set is ready for stop-motion filming. Chatting with one of the Animation Directors of the film, Adam learns how the puppets are mounted on these sets to make them come alive, one frame at a time.

Trailer for Early Man:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

How the ubiquity of search engines is changing people's understanding of how information is [to be] organized on computers [kids these days]

Monica Chin, File Not Found, The Verge, Sept. 22, 2021.

The article opens:

Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist, started seeing the problem in 2017. She was teaching an engineering course, and her students were using simulation software to model turbines for jet engines. She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.

Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved — they didn’t understand the question.

Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.

By contrast, and more traditionally:

Guarín-Zapata is an organizer. He has an intricate hierarchy of file folders on his computer, and he sorts the photos on his smartphone by category. He was in college in the very early 2000s — he grew up needing to keep papers organized. Now, he thinks of his hard drives like filing cabinets. “I open a drawer, and inside that drawer, I have another cabinet with more drawers,” he told The Verge. “Like a nested structure. At the very end, I have a folder or a piece of paper I can access.”

Guarín-Zapata’s mental model is commonly known as directory structure, the hierarchical system of folders that modern computer operating systems use to arrange files. It’s the idea that a modern computer doesn’t just save a file in an infinite expanse; it saves it in the “Downloads” folder, the “Desktop” folder, or the “Documents” folder, all of which live within “This PC,” and each of which might have folders nested within them, too. It’s an idea that’s likely intuitive to any computer user who remembers the floppy disk.

More broadly, directory structure connotes physical placement — the idea that a file stored on a computer is located somewhere on that computer, in a specific and discrete location. That’s a concept that’s always felt obvious to Garland but seems completely alien to her students. “I tend to think an item lives in a particular folder. It lives in one place, and I have to go to that folder to find it,” Garland says. “They see it like one bucket, and everything’s in the bucket.”

That tracks with how Joshua Drossman, a senior at Princeton, has understood computer systems for as long as he can remember. “The most intuitive thing would be the laundry basket where you have everything kind of together, and you’re just kind of pulling out what you need at any given time,” he says, attempting to describe his mental model.

And so on:

It’s possible that the analogy multiple professors pointed to — filing cabinets — is no longer useful since many students Drossman’s age spent their high school years storing documents in the likes of OneDrive and Dropbox rather than in physical spaces. It could also have to do with the other software they’re accustomed to — dominant smartphone apps like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube all involve pulling content from a vast online sea rather than locating it within a nested hierarchy. “When I want to scroll over to Snapchat, Twitter, they’re not in any particular order, but I know exactly where they are,” says Vogel, who is a devoted iPhone user. Some of it boils down to muscle memory.

But it may also be that in an age where every conceivable user interface includes a search function, young people have never needed folders or directories for the tasks they do. The first internet search engines were used around 1990, but features like Windows Search and Spotlight on macOS are both products of the early 2000s.

In my own case, of course, I have a fairly large system of files and folders on my computer. After all, I've been accumulating documents since I got my first Macintosh in 1984, though I've lost a fair number of documents to system changes over the years. But it is at best semi-organized. And in the area where I keep my photographs I have some folders with 100s, perhaps even 1000 or more, different documents. I will ofter find a documents by searching for them rather than going immediately to the appropriate folder. Why? Because I have a lot of different documents – now I'm thinking mostly of text files – in many different categories, but many documents could easily be classified in three or four different ways. Which place do I look?

The upshot is that I do understand the laundry basket metaphor. Perhaps the way to think of it is that I've got a traditional hierarchical structure overlaid or intermingled with a laundry basket. But I can't imagine going pure laundry basket. Nor does a traditional hierarchy provide an adequate representation of how I think about my documents.

As always, there's much more at the link.

* * * * *

More on how I organize things on my computer: The Diary of a Man and His Machines, Part 2: How’s this Stuff Organized? New Savanna, October 11, 2015, https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-diary-of-man-and-his-machines-part_11.html

A third, a third, and a third, approximately || Two hallways in 51 Pacific [graffiti]

Beyond Human Nature

Amia Srinivasan, in a wide-ranging conversation with Tyler Cowen:

I also think one error that is consistently made in this discourse, in this kind of conversation about what’s innate or what’s natural, is to think about what’s natural in terms of what’s necessary. This is a point that Shulamith Firestone made a very long time ago, but that very few people register, which is that — and it was actually made again to me recently by a philosopher of biology, which is, “Look what’s natural isn’t what’s necessary.”

It’s extraordinary. It’s not even like what’s natural offers a good equilibrium point. Think about how much time you and I spend sitting around. Completely unnatural for humans to sit around, yet we’re in this equilibrium point where vast majority of humans just sit around all day.

So, I think there’s a separate question about what humans — as essentially social, cultured, acculturating creatures — what our world should look like. And that’s distinct from the question of what natural predispositions we might have. It’s not unrelated, but I don’t think any of us think we should just be forming societies that simply allow us to express our most “natural orientations.”

There's much more at the link.

Beyond work [freedom and dignity]

Jonathan Malesic, The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less, NYTimes, Sept. 23, 2021.

We need that truth now, when millions are returning to in-person work after nearly two years of mass unemployment and working from home. The conventional approach to work — from the sanctity of the 40-hour week to the ideal of upward mobility — led us to widespread dissatisfaction and seemingly ubiquitous burnout even before the pandemic. Now, the moral structure of work is up for grabs. And with labor-friendly economic conditions, workers have little to lose by making creative demands on employers. We now have space to reimagine how work fits into a good life.

As it is, work sits at the heart of Americans’ vision of human flourishing. It’s much more than how we earn a living. It’s how we earn dignity: the right to count in society and enjoy its benefits. It’s how we prove our moral character. And it’s where we seek meaning and purpose, which many of us interpret in spiritual terms.

Political, religious and business leaders have promoted this vision for centuries, from Capt. John Smith’s decree that slackers would be banished from the Jamestown settlement to Silicon Valley gurus’ touting work as a transcendent activity. Work is our highest good; “do your job,” our supreme moral mandate.

But work often doesn’t live up to these ideals. In our dissent from this vision and our creation of a better one, we ought to begin with the idea that each one of us has dignity whether we work or not. Your job, or lack of one, doesn’t define your human worth.

This view is simple yet radical. It justifies a universal basic income and rights to housing and health care. It justifies a living wage. It also allows us to see not just unemployment but retirement, disability and caregiving as normal, legitimate ways to live. [...]

The idea that all people have dignity before they ever work, or if they never do, has been central to Catholic social teaching for at least 130 years. In that time, popes have argued that jobs ought to fit the capacities of the people who hold them, not the productivity metrics of their employers. [...]

Because each of us is both dignified and fragile, our new vision should prioritize compassion for workers, in light of work’s power to deform their bodies, minds and souls. As Eyal Press argues in his new book, “Dirty Work,” people who work in prisons, slaughterhouses and oil fields often suffer moral injury, including post-traumatic stress disorder, on the job. This reality challenges the notion that all work builds character.

There's more at the link.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Does GPT-3 tell the truth?

Owain Evans, How truthful is GPT-3? A benchmark for language models, AI Alignment Forum, Sept. 16, 2021.

This is an edited excerpt of a new ML paper (pdf, code) by Stephanie Lin (FHI Oxford), Jacob Hilton (OpenAI) and Owain Evans (FHI Oxford). The paper is under review at NeurIPS.

Title: TruthfulQA: Measuring how models mimic human falsehoods

Abstract: We propose a benchmark to measure whether a language model is truthful in generating answers to questions. The benchmark comprises 817 questions that span 38 categories, including health, law, finance and politics (see Figure 1). We crafted questions that some humans would answer falsely due to a false belief or misconception. To perform well, models must avoid generating false answers learned from imitating human texts.

We tested GPT-3, GPT-Neo/GPT-J, GPT-2 and a T5-based model. The best model was truthful on 58% of questions, while human performance was 94%. Models generated many false answers that mimic popular misconceptions and have the potential to deceive humans. The largest models were generally the least truthful (see Figure 2 below). For example, the 6B-parameter GPT-J model was 17% less truthful than its 125M-parameter counterpart. This contrasts with other NLP tasks, where performance improves with model size. However, this result is expected if false answers are learned from the training distribution. We suggest that scaling up models alone is less promising for improving truthfulness than fine-tuning using training objectives other than imitation of text from the web.

H/t Tyler Cowen.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Music and heart beat

The relationship between poetic meter and meaning in accentual-syllabic verse

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Abstract of the linked article:

Recent advances in cultural analytics and large-scale computational studies of art, literature and film often show that long-term change in the features of artistic works happens gradually. These findings suggest that conservative forces that shape creative domains might be underestimated. To this end, we provide the first large-scale formal evidence of the persistent association between poetic meter and semantics in 18-19th European literatures, using Czech, German and Russian collections with additional data from English poetry and early modern Dutch songs. Our study traces this association through a series of clustering experiments using the abstracted semantic features of 150,000 poems. With the aid of topic modeling we infer semantic features for individual poems. Texts were also lexically simplified across collections to increase generalizability and decrease the sparseness of word frequency distributions. Topics alone enable recognition of the meters in each observed language, as may be seen from highly robust clustering of same-meter samples (median Adjusted Rand Index between 0.48 and 1). In addition, this study shows that the strength of the association between form and meaning tends to decrease over time. This may reflect a shift in aesthetic conventions between the 18th and 19th centuries as individual innovation was increasingly favored in literature. Despite this decline, it remains possible to recognize semantics of the meters from past or future, which suggests the continuity of semantic traditions while also revealing the historical variability of conditions across languages. This paper argues that distinct metrical forms, which are often copied in a language over centuries, also maintain long-term semantic inertia in poetry. Our findings, thus, highlight the role of the formal features of cultural items in influencing the pace and shape of cultural evolution.

An Overview of the Theory of Overparameterized Machine Learning

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wendell Pierce: Bring back music and dance in Congo Square

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Waterfront jumble, with red

Hot streaks in art, science, and film [Talent search]

Liu, L., Dehmamy, N., Chown, J. et al. Understanding the onset of hot streaks across artistic, cultural, and scientific careers. Nat Commun 12, 5392 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25477-8

Abstract:

Across a range of creative domains, individual careers are characterized by hot streaks, which are bursts of high-impact works clustered together in close succession. Yet it remains unclear if there are any regularities underlying the beginning of hot streaks. Here, we analyze career histories of artists, film directors, and scientists, and develop deep learning and network science methods to build high-dimensional representations of their creative outputs. We find that across all three domains, individuals tend to explore diverse styles or topics before their hot streak, but become notably more focused after the hot streak begins. Crucially, hot streaks appear to be associated with neither exploration nor exploitation behavior in isolation, but a particular sequence of exploration followed by exploitation, where the transition from exploration to exploitation closely traces the onset of a hot streak. Overall, these results may have implications for identifying and nurturing talents across a wide range of creative domains.

H/t Tyler Cowen.

Social media has the strongest effect when it violates cultural values [Japan and United States]

Hsu, T. W., Niiya, Y., Thelwall, M., Ko, M., Knutson, B., & Tsai, J. L. (2021). Social media users produce more affect that supports cultural values, but are more influenced by affect that violates cultural values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000282

Abstract:

Although social media plays an increasingly important role in communication around the world, social media research has primarily focused on Western users. Thus, little is known about how cultural values shape social media behavior. To examine how cultural affective values might influence social media use, we developed a new sentiment analysis tool that allowed us to compare the affective content of Twitter posts in the United States (55,867 tweets, 1,888 users) and Japan (63,863 tweets, 1,825 users). Consistent with their respective cultural affective values, U.S. users primarily produced positive (vs. negative) posts, whereas Japanese users primarily produced low (vs. high) arousal posts. Contrary to cultural affective values, however, U.S. users were more influenced by changes in others’ high arousal negative (e.g., angry) posts, whereas Japanese were more influenced by changes in others’ high arousal positive (e.g., excited) posts. These patterns held after controlling for differences in baseline exposure to affective content, and across different topics. Together, these results suggest that across cultures, while social media users primarily produce content that supports their affective values, they are more influenced by content that violates those values. These findings have implications for theories about which affective content spreads on social media, and for applications related to the optimal design and use of social media platforms around the world. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

H/t Tyler Cowen.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Adam Savage on cosplay [Homo ludens]

Some years ago I watched a bunch of TED talks. And then lost interest. These days I rarely watch any TED talks. But I watched this one because it's by Adam Savage and it's about cosplay.

I've known about cosplay for well over a decade, but have never participated. Adam Savage is a new interest. He devotes an enormous amount of time create costumes for cosplay. It's obviously important to him and rewarding for him? Why?

That's what he explains in this video, which starts with his childhood and ends with him wearing a No-Face costume (from Miyazaki's Spirited Away) to a Comic-Con. He tells that story starting at about 10:16. Pay attention to what he says about playing the character of No-Face and of people's response to it. The thing is, it takes months, if not years, to build the costume, but the cosplay only lasts for minutes, perhaps hours, a couple of times a year. So I'm still wondering: Why? As part of that, what is the relationship between the part one plays while in costume and how one is in real life?

And the Why? isn't just about Adam Savage. It's about the culture of cosplay, and Comic-Cons. What role does that play in our culture? Do we need more of it? If so, why? 

* * * * * 

Addendum (9/24/21): For more on Adam Savage on cosplay, see the first part of the following video:

What are the requirements of a proper foundation for AI?

Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis, Has AI found a new Foundation?, The Gradient.

You may have heard that over a 100 AI researchers recently gathered at Stanford to announce the emergence of what they call "Foundation Models" as the new and reigning paradigm in AI.

"Although the term is new," Marcus and Davis explain, "the general approach is not." They elaborate:

You train a big neural network (like the well-known GPT-3) on an enormous amount of data), and then you adapt (“fine-tune”) the model to a bunch of more specific tasks (in the words of the report, "a foundation model ...[thus] serves as [part of] the common basis from which many task-specific models are built via adaptation"). The basic model thus serves as the “foundation” (hence the term) of AIs that carry out more specific tasks. The approach started to gather momentum in 2018, when Google developed the natural language processing model called BERT, and it became even more popular with the introduction last year of OpenAI’s GPT-3.

Their article is a critique of the approach, noting, "The broader AI community has had decidedly mixed reactions to the announcement from Stanford and some noted scientists have voiced skepticism or opposition." I'm sympathetic to these critiques. But critiques, but I'm not particularly interested in summarizing them here. You can real the whole article for that.

I'm interested in their brief characterization of what a proper foundation would require:

First, a general intelligence needs to maintain a cognitive model that keeps track of what it knows about the world. An AI system that powers a domestic robot must keep track of what is in the house. An AI system that reads a story or watches a movie must keep track both of the current state of people and things, and of their whole history so far.

Second, any generally intelligent system will require a great deal of real-world knowledge, and that knowledge must be accessible and reusable. A system must be able to encode a fact like “Most people in Warsaw speak Polish” and use it in the service of drawing inferences. (If Lech is from Warsaw, there is a good chance he speaks Polish; if we plan to visit him in Warsaw, we might want to learn a little Polish before we visit, etc.).

Third, a system must be able not only to identify entities (e.g., objects in a photo or video) but also be able to infer and reason about the relationships between those entities. If an AI watches a video that shows a person drinking cranberry grape juice, it must not only recognize the objects, but realize that the juices have been mixed, the mixture has been drunk, and the person has quenched their thirst.

Fourth, the notion that linguists call compositionality is similarly central; we understand wholes in terms of their parts. We understand that the phrase the woman who went up a mountain and came down with a diamond describes a particular woman. We can infer from the parts that (other things being equal) she know now possesses a diamond.

Fifth, in order to communicate with people and reason about the world a wide range of common sense knowledge that extends beyond simply factoids is required. In our view [link rebooting AI], common sense must start with a basic framework of understanding time, space, and causality that includes fundamental categories like physical objects, mental states, and interpersonal interactions.

Sixth, intelligent agents must be able to reason about what they know: if you know that a mixture of cranberry juice and grape juice is non-toxic, you can infer that drinking it is unlikely to cause you to die.

Finally, we would hope that any general intelligence would possess a capacity to represent and reason about human values. A medical advice chatbot should not recommend suicide.

In the end, it all comes down to trust. Foundation models largely try to shortcut all of the above steps. Examples like the juice case show the perils of those kinds of shortcuts. The inevitable result is systems that are untrustworthy. The initial enthusiasm for GPT-3 for example has been followed by a wave of panic as people have realized how prone these systems are to producing obscenity, prejudiced remarks, misinformation, and so forth. Large pretrained statistical models can do almost anything, at least enough for a proof of concept, but there is precious little that they can do reliably—precisely because they skirt the foundations that are actually required.

I'm not sure whether or not those requirements are adequate; I've not yet attempted to think it through. But they are a sobering reminder of what that foundationalists have yet to think through.

The whole article is worth reading.

Red rose

The War in Afghanistan was a gigantic corruption pump funded by US taxpayers

Farah Stockman, "What Failure? For Some, the War in Afghanistan Was a Big Success", NYTimes, Sept 13, 2021.

Instead of a nation, what we really built were more than 500 military bases — and the personal fortunes of the people who supplied them. That had always been the deal. In April 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dictated a top-secret memo ordering aides to come up with “a plan for how we are going to deal with each of these warlords — who is going to get money from whom, on what basis, in exchange for what, what is the quid pro quo, etc.,” according to The Washington Post.

The war proved enormously lucrative for many Americans and Europeans, too. One 2008 study estimated that some 40 percent of the money allocated to Afghanistan actually went back to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries. Only about 12 percent of U.S. reconstruction assistance given to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2021 actually went to the Afghan government. Much of the rest went to companies like the Louis Berger Group, a New Jersey-based construction firm that got a $1.4 billion contract to build schools, clinics and roads. Even after it got caught bribing officials and systematically overbilling taxpayers, the contracts kept coming.

“It’s a bugbear of mine that Afghan corruption is so frequently cited as an explanation (as well as an excuse) for Western failure in Afghanistan,” Jonathan Goodhand, a professor in Conflict and Development Studies at SOAS University of London, wrote me in an email. Americans “point the finger at Afghans, whilst ignoring their role in both fueling and benefiting from the patronage pump.” [...]

What stands out about the war in Afghanistan is the way that it became the Afghan economy. At least Iraq had oil. In Afghanistan, the war dwarfed every other economic activity, apart from the opium trade.

Over two decades, the U.S. government spent $145 billion on reconstruction and aid, and an additional $837 billion on war fighting, in a country where the G.D.P. hovered between $4 billion and $20 billion per year. [...]

“The money spent was far more than Afghanistan could absorb,” concluded the special inspector general of Afghanistan’s final report. “The basic assumption was that corruption was created by individual Afghans and that donor interventions were the solution. It would take years for the United States to realize that it was fueling corruption with its excessive spending and lack of oversight.”

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Authoritarianism, left and right

Friday Fotos (on Saturday): Jersey City Hinterlands [railroad]

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Apartment [Media Notes 63]

I’ve just watched The Apartment, a romantic comedy from 1960. According to its Wikipedia entry the film “has come to be regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, appearing in lists by the American Film Institute and Sight and Sound magazine. In 1994, it was one of the 25 films selected for inclusion to the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.” It’s also strange. Not creepy strange or puzzling strange, but really? strange.

It stars Jack Lemon as a clerk in a large insurance company located in New York City. He falls in love with Shirley MacLaine, who is an elevator operator in the building where the company is headquartered in New York City. She’s having an affair with his supervisor, played by Fred MacMurray, but he doesn’t know this, at least not at the beginning of the film. Here’s the strange part: somehow he’s gotten himself into a situation where he loans out his Upper West Side apartment to four different managers so they can conduct affairs. This, we’re supposed to believe, is so he can climb the corporate ladder. And it works!

Really!?

Who dreamt that one up? As the film was written by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond, I supposed it’s one of them. Where’s they get that idea from? They only thing that halfway makes any sense is that they wanted to do a male parallel to a story in which a woman sleeps her way to a promotion but couldn’t come up with any direct way to pull it off. And so this is what they came up with. Now, I’m not suggesting that they went through some conscious decision process to arrive at this result. I’d guess is was one of those sudden “light bulb” inspirations: Hey! Wouldn’t it be funny if... But somehow the psycho-cultural forces involved are along the lines I’ve suggested. The tit-for-tat in this exchange game is mechanical and explicit and Lemon does in fact advance as he loans out his apartment. It’s the mechanical nature of this game that makes me suspicious of the underlying psycho-dynamics. (I note, however, that the Wikipedia article suggests other inspirations for the plot.)

Of course, the obverse of this screwy scheme is that the film was about adultery, as all the manages were married. That made it a bit scandalous in its time (1960). I suppose we can read the screwy mechanism as a of distracting attention from the adultery the fueled the merry-go-round.

Anyhow, MacMurray wasn’t one of the four managers originally in on the scheme. But he knew about the scheme and decided to avail himself of Lemon’s apartment for a tryst with MacLaine. And that’s how Lemon discovered that she was having an affair with his boss. Of course, there are twists and turns along the way, and she attempts to commit suicide, he nurses her back to health, she falls in love with him, he quits his job (after receiving a promotion that entitles him to the executive washroom), and then film ends with the two of them happily playing gin rummy in his apartment.

The film was a hit.

* * * * *

It would be interesting to compare three 1960s films, the original Ocean’s 11 (1960), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960), and The Apartment (1960), with recent series, Mad Men (2007-2015), but set in the early 1960s.

The Launch of the Elsie - A Ship Model by Erik Ronnberg, Jr. [building]

I've been watching a lot of videos by Adam Savage, who was a model-maker in the film industry before becoming co-host of MythBusters. A lot of his videos involve model building of various kinds, whether from scratch or from kits, including Lego kits. A lot of the issues he talks about in constructing those models come up in this video where my cousin, Erik Ronnberg, Jr., talks about building a museum-quality model of a fishing schoner.

The over-riding issue is that of narrative, the model implies a narrative. For Savage this comes most strongly into play in the last stage of model building, "weathering." How do you finish the model's surfaces so that it looks used? What particular history gave it that look.

Erik doesn't illustrate building his model, which took 1800 hours or so. This is a presentation made and the model's unveiling. But he does point out the features of the model, starting at about 20:45. Erik points out that he chose to depict the model when it was under full sail and coming close to the fishing grounds. He arranged figures of the crew to show them preparing to commence fishing.

VL31 - The Launch of the Elsie - A Ship Model by Erik Ronnberg, Jr. - 04-09-2011 from Cape Ann Museum on Vimeo.

About the video:

This event commemorates the unveiling of a model of the fishing schooner Elsie that was constructed by Cape Ann Museum maritime curator Erik Ronnberg, Jr., who learned the intricate art of ship model building from his father, Erik Ronnberg, Sr. The model was commissioned by Wilbur James who is a Rockport native, a member of the museum’s Board of Directors, and the great-grandson of a former owner of the real Elsie, Charles River Pearce. Assembled in the crowd are relatives of the Elsie’s past captains, additional owners, builders, designer, and crew. Along with a slide show that highlights the model’s incredible detail, Ronnberg speaks about the process of building such an exact replica, down to the four-strand left-hand turned anchor cable and lucky horseshoe attached to the windlass. In the course of the discussion that follows the lecture, many harrowing experiences of the crew who earned their living fishing on these great ships are recounted.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

It takes a (large) 'village' of artificial neurons to simulate one real neuron

Monday, September 6, 2021

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The state of NLP these days

The beginning of an interesting thread about NLP:

The end of that thread:

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Chinese Room – I got it! I see where it’s going, or coming from. (I think)

Bump to the head of the queue. I'm thinking about this stuff. Though I should say more, I don't find that intention is very useful in distinguishing between 'real' from 'artificial' intelligence. Where do we find intention in the brain or, for that matter, the whole organism? How would we create it in an artificial being? We haven't got a clue on either score. For some other thoughts, in a somewhat different but still related context, see this post on Stanley Fish and meaning literary criticism

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John Searle’s Chinese room argument is one of the best-known thought experiments in the contemporary philosophy of mind and has spawned endless commentary. I read it when it appeared in Behavioral and Brain Science in 1980 and was unimpressed [1]. Here’s a brief restatement from David Cole’s entry in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [2]:
Searle imagines himself alone in a room following a computer program for responding to Chinese characters slipped under the door. Searle understands nothing of Chinese, and yet, by following the program for manipulating symbols and numerals just as a computer does, he produces appropriate strings of Chinese characters that fool those outside into thinking there is a Chinese speaker in the room. The narrow conclusion of the argument is that programming a digital computer may make it appear to understand language but does not produce real understanding. Hence the “Turing Test” is inadequate. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. The broader conclusion of the argument is that the theory that human minds are computer-like computational or information processing systems is refuted. Instead minds must result from biological processes; computers can at best simulate these biological processes.
The whole thing seemed to me irrelevant because it didn’t address any of the ideas and models actually used in development computer simulation of mental processes. There was nothing in there that I could use to improve my work. The argument just seemed useless to me. For that matter, most of the philosophical discussion on this has seemed useless for the same reason; it’s conducted at some remote distance from the ideas and techniques driving the research.

I remarked on this to David Hays and he replied, that yes, this philosophers will say it can’t be done but the programs will get better and better. Not mind you, that Hays thought we were on the verge of cracking the human mind or, for that matter, that I think so now. It’s just that, well, this kind of argumentation isn’t helpful.

I still believe that – not helpful – but I’m beginning to think that, nonetheless, Searle had a point. A lot depends on just what “real understanding” is. The crucial point of his thought experiment is that there was in fact a mind involved, the guy (Searle’s proxy) “manipulating symbols and numerals just as a computer does” has a perfectly good mind (we may assume). But that mind is not directly engaged in the translation. It’s insulated from understanding Chinese by the layer of (computer-like) instructions he uses to produce the result that fools those who don’t know what’s happening inside the box.

The core issue is intentionality, an enormously important if somewhat tricky term of philosophical art. David Cole glosses it:
Intentionality is the property of being about something, having content. In the 19th Century, psychologist Franz Brentano re-introduced this term from Medieval philosophy and held that intentionality was the “mark of the mental”. Beliefs and desires are intentional states: they have propositional content (one believes that p, one desires that p, where sentences substitute for “p” ).
He quotes Searle as asserting:
I demonstrated years ago with the so-called Chinese Room Argument that the implementation of the computer program is not by itself sufficient for consciousness or intentionality (Searle 1980). Computation is defined purely formally or syntactically, whereas minds have actual mental or semantic contents, and we cannot get from syntactical to the semantic just by having the syntactical operations and nothing else. To put this point slightly more technically, the notion “same implemented program” defines an equivalence class that is specified independently of any specific physical realization. But such a specification necessarily leaves out the biologically specific powers of the brain to cause cognitive processes. A system, me, for example, would not acquire an understanding of Chinese just by going through the steps of a computer program that simulated the behavior of a Chinese speaker (p.17).
We’ll just skip over Searle’s talk of semantics as I have come to make a (perhaps idiosyncratic) distinction between semantics and meaning. Let’s just put semantics aside, but agree with Searle about meaning.
 
The critical remark is about “the biologically specific powers of the brain.” Brains are living beings; computers are not. Living beings are self-organized “from the inside” – something I explored in an old post, What’s it mean, minds are built from the inside? Computers are not; they programmed “from the outside” by programmers. But living beings are not self-organized in isolation. They are self-organized in an environment and it is toward that environment that they have intentional states.

Brains are made of living cells, each active from the time it emerged from mitosis. And so we have growth and learning in development, prenatal and postnatal. At every point those neurons are living beings. And those neurons, like all living cells, are descended from those first living cells billions of years ago.

Searle’s argument ultimately rests on human biology and a belief that life cannot be “programmed from the outside”. Let us say that I am deeply sympathetic to that view. But I cannot say for sure that a mind cannot be programmed from the outside. Moreover I note that Searle’s argument originated before the flowering of machine learning techniques in the last decade or so.

There is a sense in which those computers do in fact “learn from the inside”. Programmers do not write rules for recognizing cats, playing Go, or translating from one language to another. The machine is programmed with a general capacity for learning and it learns the “rules” of a given domain itself [3]. As a result, we don’t really know what the computer is doing. We can’t just “open it up” and examine the rules it has developed.

Will such technology evolve to the point where these systems have genuine intentionality? We don’t know. They’re along way from in now, but who knows?

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[1] Searle, J., 1980, “Minds, Brains and Programs”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3: 417–57. Preprint available online, http://cogprints.org/7150/1/10.1.1.83.5248.pdf

Searle has a brief 2009 statement of the argument online at Scholarpedia: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Chinese_room_argument

[2] Cole, David, "The Chinese Room Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2015/entries/chinese-room/

[3] For a good journalistic account of some of the recent work, see Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The Great A.I. Awakening, New York Times Magazine, December 14, 2016:

Thursday, September 2, 2021

How to build a moving castle [after Miyazaki]

Splish splash

Q. Where’s Reality? A. Which One? [Howl's Moving Castle]

Back in the early days of the blog I had a lot of posts about Hayao Miyazaka. I'm boosting this one to the top on general principle. It's from August 21, 2010.

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If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke—Aye! and what then?
— Samuel T. Coleridge


The castle in Miyazaki’s film, Howl’s Moving Castle, is a marvelous creation. I’m talking not so much about it’s steampunk funkiness, but the fact that its main door can open to any one of four different places. The castle’s master, Howl, determines what those places are, and one chooses by setting a dial above the door. Thus, one can exit the door and, for example, be in a bustling port or a mountain meadow.

I’ve more or less concluded that reality’s like that, only stranger. Howl’s castle, after all, opens to four different places in the physical world. One can, if one so wishes, journey from one of those places to another without going through the castle. That is, of course, how most people do it, because they don’t have castle privileges.

Reality, I believe, is multiple. That is, it affords each one of us multiple experiential realms. We can ‘live’ in those different realms, one by one, but experiences in one realm cannot be substituted for experience in another realm. Our minds, somehow, open into those different realms, as Howl’s castle opens into different physical spaces. What is even odder is that our minds can do this collectively as well as individually.


So, what do I mean by this vague nonsense?

Consider, for example, science. Let’s not be too fussy about what science is. Naiveté on that point is OK for my present purposes. The physicist, the chemist, the astronomer, the geologist, the biologist, and the others, they all want to ascertain objective truths about one of these realities. They’ve got procedures for doing so, and those procedures change and proliferate from time to time. They publish their ideas, go to meetings, belong to professional societies — all to keep one another sane as they search for the objective truths of this reality. Let’s call it Epsilon.

I’m trained as a literary critic, but I’ve also spent a great deal of time moonlighting and spelunking in the newer psychologies. I’m interested in understanding how literature works and I want to cloak or couch that understanding in terms that are commensurate with those used in characterizing Epsilon. I’m hardly alone in this, though we, literary scholars as a profession, are somewhat befuddled as to what Epsilon is like and how to get there. And some of us, of course, have no interest in it, at least not professionally.

At the same time I’m an ordinary human being and I like to read books and poems and plays and to watch movies and TV and so forth. Let’s say that that those experiences happen in reality Gamma. So, we’re in the movie theatre watching, say, Peter Jackson’s King Kong — I use this as an example because the theatre was packed when I saw it. We can hear one another rustle in the seats, we hear murmurs, breath intake, sighs, and so forth. We’re all in reality Gamma, watching this same movie. But the same is true for all of us who have read and still do read Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” though we’re not together at the same time in the same place. Still, we communicate with one another in ones and threes and so on about the poem. All of us, loosely strungout, in reality Gamma.

All literary scholars, of course, spend time in Gamma. And many of us spend a great deal of time agonizing about the relationship between Gamma and Epsilon. Such agonizing is so institutionalized that it may well be an aspect of another reality. Call it Pi. Lots of literary critics love their Pi.

So, we’ve got three realities so far: Gamma, Epsilon, and Pi.

A couple of days ago I wrote on sex and metaphysics, arguing that, for us humans, sex takes on a metaphysical character. The physiologist can study sex in Epsilon. Any of us can read erotic literature and see erotic plays and films in Gamma. And literary, film, and cultural critics can write about those Gamma-based experiences in Pi.


But my argument in that post was the sex establishes its own reality, its own metaphysic. That reality is manifest in transcendent experiences associated with orgasm, but perhaps, as my friend Tim Perper* has argued, in flirtation as well:
For Simmel, it is thus possible to flirt at each of the Ovidian stages, most intensely, perhaps, during naked sexual involvement itself. Then each orgasm hints flirtatiously that another exists in potentia, and it is the possibility that is alluring. Thus, Simmel empowers his lovers, making them not philosophically objective observers of disembodied Beauty nor Ovidian fauns and nymphs in a world of crystalline Eros. Instead, they are human beings who can invite, enter, retreat, and enter again.
So let’s say that this is yet another reality, requiring another character from the Greek alphabet. Let’s go with Mu.

Now we’ve got realities Epsilon, Gamma, Pi, and Mu. How many more? Darned if I know. But let’s throw in Alpha for ordinary everyday phenomenological reality. We might even go further and say that Alpha is like the interior of Howl’s castle. It’s home base. We depart from Alpha to take excursions to Epsilon, Gamma, Pi or Mu, or, as the case may be, Beta, Delta, Zeta, Eta, Theta and so forth. And when we’re through with our current business in one of those other worlds, we return to Alpha.

But isn’t there really just one world? You know, the REAL one?

Well . . . I suppose we can talk that way. Heck, we do talk that way. Such talk is a really big deal in Epsilon and Gamma. But I’m not so much concerned about how we talk as about how we live. And as far as I can tell, we live in multiple worlds. We do so with great virtuosity and vigor, though we often get confused. Living in those various worlds entails talk, more so in some worlds than others. In some worlds we don’t talk at all. And some talk in some worlds is about what we see and did and smelled in other worlds. So their all intermingled. I figure it’s like a marble in eleventy different colors in, say, umpteen dimensional space. Very frothy.

Um, err, this isn’t very rigorous?

I know.

Doesn’t that bother you?

Yes and no.

Yes and no?

Sure, I’d like rigor. So YES. But at the moment I’m more concerned about just saying it, whatever it is, in any freakin’ form I can get it out there. So NO.

Oh.

Well, if it’s any consolation, I sometimes imagine that, when in Epsilon, we can construct a model of the human mind-in-brain that’s so comprehensive and powerful that we could account for how the mind constructs each one of these realities, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Zeta, Eta, Theta Pi, and so forth, and of course Epsilon. Since we’re constructing this model from within Epsilon, the model must itself be recursive, metalingual.

Why sneaky son of a snitch! You lying bastard! You put me through all this just so you can go recursive on me! %$ @#&!!!

Sorry. As I was saying, I sometimes imagine that. But imaging's one thing. Actually doing it. Ah that’s different.

And, even if one day we can do that, we can’t actually live our lives in that construction, moving about between those many and various realities. The model is but an object of contemplation. No less valuable for that. But only a model. In Epsilon.


ADDENDUM: This post is akin the modal matters I've been discussing recently, see especially this post, on basic modes, and then especially this one on specifically human modes.

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* Timothy Perper, Will She or Won’t She: The Dynamics of Flirtation in Western Philosophy, Sexuality & Culture, Volume 14, Number 1, 33-43, DOI: 10.1007/s12119-009-9060-3.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Helicopter to the sun

Humans and Dogs in Wuthering Heights

An old post that I've decided to promote to the top of the list on general principle.

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I first published this note on The Valve for December 30, 2009. It speaks to my recent posts on animals, especially in cartoons (e.g. Where'd the Animals Go?). Humankind's history of domestication and mutual adaptation with dogs is perhaps deeper than that with any other animal.
About a month ago I posted a bleg in which I asked whether or not anyone knew of any critical work which looked at Wuthering Heights in relation to contemporary lore and literature on feral children. In that bleg I quoted this important description of Heathcliff from chapter 10 in which Heathcliff is likened to a wolf:
Nelly, help me to convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I’d as soon put that little canary into the park on a winter’s day, as recommend you to bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, don’t imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He’s not a rough diamond--a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man.
The wolf, of course, is biological cousin to the many forms of domestic dogs, and various forms of dogs do appear throughout Wuthering Heights. In particular, violence between dogs and humans takes place at important transition points in the novel. I’ve collected five such passages in this post and italicized the dog references within each passage.
 
* * * * *

Chapter I: Lockwood has rented Thrushcross Grange and goes to Wuthering Heights to pay his respects to his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff. In a sense this is the the most important transition of all because it gets us and Lockwood into the Wuthering Heights world.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.

'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. 'She's not accustomed to be spoiled--not kept for a pet.' Then, striding to a side door, he shouted again, 'Joseph!'

Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-a-vis the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements. Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still; but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in reestablishing peace.
Chapter 6: Catherine and Heathcliff travel to Thrushcross Grange and look in through a window where they see Isabella and Edgar Linton fighting over a lap dog. Catherine is so badly bitten by a bull dog that she has to stay at the Grange for a month to recover. When she returns to the Heights she’s somewhat estranged from Heathcliff.
Old Mr. and Mrs. Linton were not there; Edgar and his sisters had it entirely to themselves. Shouldn't they have been happy? We should have thought ourselves in heaven! And now, guess what your good children were doing? Isabella--I believe she is eleven, a year younger than Cathy--lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping; which, from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled in two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! to quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each begin to cry because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take it. We laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them!
Heathcliff is telling the story to Nelly Dean, who’s telling it to Lockwood, who in turn is telling it to us. The story continues:
'Hush, hush!' I interrupted. 'Still you have not told me, Heathcliff, how Catherine is left behind?'

'I told you we laughed,' he answered. 'The Lintons heard us, and with one accord they shot like arrows to the door; there was silence, and then a cry, "Oh, mamma, mamma! Oh, papa! Oh, mamma, come here. Oh, papa, oh!" They really did howl out something in that way. We made frightful noises to terrify them still more, and then we dropped off the ledge, because somebody was drawing the bars, and we felt we had better flee. I had Cathy by the hand, and was urging her on, when all at once she fell down. "Run, Heathcliff, run!" she whispered. "They have let the bull-dog loose, and he holds me!" The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I heard his abominable snorting. She did not yell out--no! she would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns of a mad cow. I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to annihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down his throat. A beast of a servant came up with a lantern, at last, shouting--"Keep fast, Skulker, keep fast!" He changed his note, however, when he saw Skulker's game. The dog was throttled off; his huge, purple tongue hanging half a foot out of his mouth, and his pendent lips streaming with bloody slaver.
Chapter 12: Heathcliff elopes with Isabella Linton. Suave charmer that he is, he hangs Isabella’s dog.
'She abandoned them under a delusion,' he answered; 'picturing in me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a rational creature, so obstinately has she persisted in forming a fabulous notion of my character and acting on the false impressions she cherished. But, at last, I think she begins to know me: I don't perceive the silly smiles and grimaces that provoked me at first; and the senseless incapability of discerning that I was in earnest when I gave her my opinion of her infatuation and herself. It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to discover that I did not love her. I believed, at one time, no lessons could teach her that! And yet it is poorly learnt; for this morning she announced, as a piece of appalling intelligence, that I had actually succeeded in making her hate me! A positive labour of Hercules, I assure you! If it be achieved, I have cause to return thanks. Can I trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me? If I let you alone for half a day, won't you come sighing and wheedling to me again? I daresay she would rather I had seemed all tenderness before you: it wounds her vanity to have the truth exposed. But I don't care who knows that the passion was wholly on one side: and I never told her a lie about it. She cannot accuse me of showing one bit of deceitful softness. The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except one: possibly she took that exception for herself. But no brutality disgusted her: I suppose she has an innate admiration of it, if only her precious person were secure from injury! Now, was it not the depth of absurdity--of genuine idiotcy, for that pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brach to dream that I could love her?
Chapter 17: Catherine Linton has died in the previous chapter. We’re at Wuthering Heights, miserable home of Isabella and Heathcliff; Hindley and Hareton live there as well. Isabella is pregnant. Hindley takes a shot at Heathcliff; Heathcliff beats him half to death. The next day Isabella flees:
'The back of the settle and Earnshaw's person interposed between me and him; so instead of endeavouring to reach me, he snatched a dinner-knife from the table and flung it at my head. It struck beneath my ear, and stopped the sentence I was uttering; but, pulling it out, I sprang to the door and delivered another; which I hope went a little deeper than his missile. The last glimpse I caught of him was a furious rush on his part, checked by the embrace of his host; and both fell locked together on the hearth. In my flight through the kitchen I bid Joseph speed to his master; I knocked over Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies from a chair-back in the doorway; and, blessed as a soul escaped from purgatory, I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then, quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the beacon-light of the Grange. And far rather would I be condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions than, even for one night, abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again.'
I find this incident particulary telling, set as it as, amongst some much violence between humans and however briefly the puppy hanging is mentioned. Just another day at the Heights.

Isabella gives birth to Linton Heathcliff a bit later in the chapter.

Chapter 18: Catherine Linton (the younger) goes from Thrushcross Grange to Wuthering Heights and her dogs get into a fight with Hareton’s.
The summer shone in full prime; and she took such a taste for this solitary rambling that she often contrived to remain out from breakfast till tea; and then the evenings were spent in recounting her fanciful tales. I did not fear her breaking bounds; because the gates were generally locked, and I thought she would scarcely venture forth alone, if they had stood wide open. Unluckily, my confidence proved misplaced. Catherine came to me, one morning, at eight o'clock, and said she was that day an Arabian merchant, going to cross the Desert with his caravan; and I must give her plenty of provision for herself and beasts: a horse, and three camels, personated by a large hound and a couple of pointers. I got together good store of dainties, and slung them in a basket on one side of the saddle; and she sprang up as gay as a fairy, sheltered by her wide-brimmed hat and gauze veil from the July sun, and trotted off with a merry laugh, mocking my cautious counsel to avoid galloping, and come back early. The naughty thing never made her appearance at tea. One traveller, the hound, being an old dog and fond of its ease, returned; but neither Cathy, nor the pony, nor the two pointers were visible in any direction: I despatched emissaries down this path, and that path, and at last went wandering in search of her myself. There was a labourer working at a fence round a plantation, on the borders of the grounds. I inquired of him if he had seen our young lady.

'I saw her at morn,' he replied: 'she would have me to cut her a hazel switch, and then she leapt her Galloway over the hedge yonder, where it is lowest, and galloped out of sight.'

You may guess how I felt at hearing this news. It struck me directly she must have started for Penistone Crags. 'What will become of her?' I ejaculated, pushing through a gap which the man was repairing, and making straight to the high-road. I walked as if for a wager, mile after mile, till a turn brought me in view of the Heights; but no Catherine could I detect, far or near. The Crags lie about a mile and a half beyond Mr. Heathcliff's place, and that is four from the Grange, so I began to fear night would fall ere I could reach them. 'And what if she should have slipped in clambering among them,' I reflected, 'and been killed, or broken some of her bones?' My suspense was truly painful; and, at first, it gave me delightful relief to observe, in hurrying by the farmhouse, Charlie, the fiercest of the pointers, lying under a window, with swelled head and bleeding ear. I opened the wicket and ran to the door, knocking vehemently for admittance. A woman whom I knew, and who formerly lived at Gimmerton, answered: she had been servant there since the death of Mr. Earnshaw.

. . . . . .

This, however, is not making progress with my story. Miss Cathy rejected the peace-offering of the terrier, and demanded her own dogs, Charlie and Phoenix. They came limping and hanging their heads; and we set out for home, sadly out of sorts, every one of us. I could not wring from my little lady how she had spent the day; except that, as I supposed, the goal of her pilgrimage was Penistone Crags; and she arrived without adventure to the gate of the farm-house, when Hareton happened to issue forth, attended by some canine followers, who attacked her train. They had a smart battle, before their owners could separate them: that formed an introduction. Catherine told Hareton who she was, and where she was going; and asked him to show her the way: finally, beguiling him to accompany her. He opened the mysteries of the Fairy Cave, and twenty other queer places.
That’s 18 out of 34 chapters. I’ve not had time to scout out the rest of the book for such incidents. Truth be told, I didn’t have time to scout out these five cases either. I just took them from old notes. Apparently that’s as far as I got with this project back in the day. Still, it’s enough to give you a sense of how dog imagery is used in the book.