Archive for August, 2015

Pointing versus Pushing

August 30, 2015

Every corporeal being is bound to classify the world into two extremely basic categories:

  1. That which can be grabbed (or grabbed by)
  2. That which cannot be reached.

More generally, for each sense, we classify the world into

  • That which is immediately available to that sense.
  • That which needs to be indexed into, in order to be available for that sense.

Indexing can take various forms, from body-muscle preparedness to eye-saccades to visual navigation. For every sense, we can make the following classification:

  1. An ”actual” object (or object part) of that sense into which we have indexed, and which is available for further elaboration or manipulation. For example, having indexed into Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, we can move closer to discern whether Mona Lisa is smiling or not.
  2. A ”potential” object (or object part) of that sense that will be made available to us with an appropriate amount of effort on our part.

Note that these are phenomenological distinctions; I am not talking about subconscious or unconscious representations in V1 or some other brain area. In our experience of the world, there is a basic division between those things that are immediately available using vision, hearing, touch etc and those that require effort. What is available transparently to one sense might require effort from another – consider the shape of a soccer ball from vision and touch. In any case, the sensory world can be divided into those entities with whom we are in direct contact, and those with whom contact requires effort.  We can think of the spatial world in terms of a figure-ground analogy: one the one hand, as Kant pointed out, space is a basic category, it is presupposed in our understanding of anything else. On the other hand, we process detailed spatial information (where objects are, how to catch this baseball etc). The first can be seen as the structuring aspect of space, while the second as consisting of detailed perceptual or encyclopedic information.

We can call this the pointing body versus the pushing body. The pointing body allows us to index into locations (there), objects (that!) and so on. The pushing body helps us interact with those entities that we have pointed to, but these seem to be two very distinct modes of bodily being.

Cognitive Regularities 1

August 30, 2015

My work on the cognitive foundations of mind is guided by the underlying intuition that the study of the mind is at a stage similar to chemistry in the late nineteenth century – on the one hand large amounts of new data are being collected that point to underlying principles, and on the other hand conceptual problems are being raised about the relationship between the mind and other natural entities. As we know now, chemistry was incompatible with nineteenth century physics; it took the quantum mechanical revolution to bring chemistry and mechanics into one theoretical structure. I believe the same is true of the study of the mind now.
A tremendous amount of new data is being generated from neuroscience and cognitive science experiments as well related social science disciplines like economics. One can think of the new data as the counterparts of chemical reactions; we are getting a sense for what happens when two mental entities interact with each other. However, at the same time, conceptual problems (such as that of intentionality and consciousness) are being raised about how to reconcile these phenomena with what we know of the physical world. I believe that regularity theory is a good lens through which we can view these new developments in the mind sciences; these notes are a first attempt to summarise past work and lay out a research agenda.

To push the analogy between chemistry and the mind sciences further, while we are not ready for the full fledged ‘quantum mechanics of the mind’, I do think we are ready for the Plank and Bohr model of the mind sciences, i.e., a halfway stage that integrates both the experimental and the conceptual problems into one framework. These notes are an introduction to a regularities approach to cognition with the intent of grounding knowledge itself in cognition, in the spirit of the classical Indian pramana theorists.

Understanding Regularities 1: Some examples

August 30, 2015

One problem with the regularities framework is that, like other frameworks, it is an interlocking set of conceptual intuitions and hypotheses that do not lead to an easy definition. It is almost OK to say that regularities are not definable but we know one when we see one. I don’t quite agree with that conclusion, but let us first see if we can agree about some phenomena being regularities, so that we can at least say that we know one when we see one. Here are a few examples of what I would call regularities:

  1. The size of an animal predicts the pitch of it’s voice. Mice squeak and lions roar and not vice versa
  2. Clouds are puffy while water is runny.
  3. More controversially, the size of an animal predicts how smart it is. A bacterium can never be as smart as a dophin.

These three examples are all related to each other though not in any obvious way. The underlying mechanisms for mice squeaking, clouds puffing and dolphins thinking are all different. Even the evolutionary histories are different. However, at a thermodynamic level, we can see that all of them have to do with how energy and information flow through the respective systems. Physicists talk about “universality” i.e., that the macroscopic properties of a system can often be independent of it’s microscopic origins. The regularity approach takes this one step further, that the regularities of a system are not only independent of the underlying mechanism or causal features, they are the real thing. Especially when it comes to biological processes we can hypothesize that it is regularities and their graspability that is being selected for in natural selection, not the underlying mechanism. I see this as a biologically grounded version of the hardware/software distinction well known in AI and cognitive science. Just as an earlier generation of theorists argued that the same software can be instantiated in different hardware, we can argue that the same regularity can be instantiated via different mechanisms while remaining the same.

Arbitrariness

August 30, 2015

There are at least three kind of arbitrary relations in the mind sciences:

  • Between concepts/language and the world
  • Between the mind and the body
  • Between form and substance (which might include the above)

For example, we feel that there is no relation between the concept CUP and cups in the world. The concept CUP has neither shape nor size nor mass, while real world cups do. Similarly, concepts interact with each other logically – we can say “can you give me either the red or the blue cup?” while objects only interact with each other causally. Cups that fall on a hard floor break while the concept CUP does not break down when you say FLOOR.

The same goes for temporal arbitrariness. Consider the statement “Socrates died in 399 B.C.E.” Having once existed and died, Socrates is long gone but the statement regarding his death will now be true, independent of the rest of the history of the universe. Even if human beings become extinct as a species, Socrates would still have died in 399 B.C.E and the statement regarding his death would still be true. For these reasons, it seems possible to isolate an entity called a proposition that lives outside space and time and comes into relation (or is perhaps even contained within) with the human mind. To the extent that the human mind is a container for these kinds of entities, it is also primarily an abstract entity, whose foundational rules are abstract.

Consider the statement “dogs are animals”. The truth of this statement seems to have nothing to do with the actual character of dogs. You might have never seen one. Indeed, the statement would equally well apply to “grifmors are ringbats” as long as grifmors were known to be ringbats. The point is this: Conceptual structures are connected to the rest of the world, but only at the boundary. As long as the boundary conditions are known to be valid (Socrates dying in 399, dogs being animals etc) the rest of the conceptual structure is insulated from the universe. It is this encapsulation that leads to claims about modularity etc. We can see this boundary + interior reasoning explicitly in the minimalist program.

For similar reasons, we also feel that concepts are not like brain or body structures. Neurons interact using electrical impulses, while concepts do not. In fact, since concepts do not have any extension, they do not have any physical substance at all. What are they made of? According to Plato and Descartes, the essence of concepts is not a physical substance but a soul like substance, whose essence is reason. There is then an arbitrary relation between the body-like and soul-like substances, as well as their properties and states (the debate about the precise mental character of concepts, say, whether concepts are mental states or mental properties is ignored for now).

Both Gibsonians and Embodied Cognitivists have tried to dislodge this deep dualism, which comes from observations about the arbitrariness of the concept-body-world relation. I think they underestimate the strength of this position and therefore do not do enough to refute it thoroughly. For example, consider the CONTAINER schema often used by Lakoff and other cognitive linguists as an example of an imagistic element in human cognition. We could ask three questions of Lakoff about the nature of these schema:

  1. Isn’t an image schema already an abstraction? Our experience of the world conjoins the wind blowing in our eyes, the smell of the jasmine flower and the green of the leaves. Where in all of this is container-hood? It seems as if our pre-conceptual experience actually does not have such a thing as containers.
  2. Suppose, somehow we do experience rooms as things that make us act in certain ways (for example, making sure that we move towards the door when we want to leave the room, since the walls are inpenetrable. Even then the experience of not-being-able-to-leave-the-room is not the same as the abstract relation A-contained-in-B. Where does the latter come from?
  3. In any case, the feeling of not-being-able-to-leave-the-room is a conceptual judgment. What is pre-conceptual about it? If anything it shows that bodily perception/experience is infused with conception rather than being the basis of post-perceptual conceptualization.

I agree with the embodied cognitivists that we shouldnt separate mind from the body; but in actually ‘fleshing’ that out, they are themselves as guilty of making the same mistakes (for example about preconceptual experience) as their modular opponents. A cognitive science that is truly non-arbitrary in its leanings will no more be body centric as it is form centric.

What is the role of Indian Philosophy in the Cognitive Sciences?

August 30, 2015

Since I am going to the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute, I thought I should share an essay I wrote a while ago.
Q: What is the role of Indian Philosophy in the Cognitive Sciences?

The stated goal of our enterprise is to create an intellectual milieu where Indian philosophical ideas and theories play an influential role in the development of the cognitive sciences. Therefore, we need to make Indian philosophical ideas available in a form attractive to the average cognitive scientist, a task easier said than done. As we all know, the typical cognitive scientist, while paying lip service to Hume and Kant, really doesn’t care that much about Western philosophy, so why should he care about Indian philosophy? In fact, if developments in what have been called “experimental philosophy” and “neuro-philosophy” are to be taken at face value, it is philosophers who should take cognitive science and psychological experimentation seriously, not the other way around. The working cognitive scientist seems to have concluded that as the science has matured, it is the philosopher’s job to systematize and popularize the field but not to add anything of substance.

In this bleak scenario how can one motivate a cognitive scientist to study Indian philosophy and learn some of its fundamental concepts and intuitions? A typical response might be to say:

  1. That cognitive science has created its current edifice on the backs of many generations of western philosophizing about the mind.
  2. These metaphysical intuitions and theories play an enormous role in determining what hypotheses are considered, what experiments are done and what conclusions and interpretations are drawn from the data.
  3. Not only do these metaphysical presuppositions play a role in “purely” scientific theorizing about the mind, they also guide our technological metaphors, such as robots, intelligent computers etc. Ideas about artificial intelligence which have been enormously influential in cognitive science, as well as captured the popular  imagination, also embody these metaphysical presuppositions, physicalism being the most important one.

 

Even if one agrees with these claims (and certainly many cognitive scientists will do so) I believe that a rational reconstruction of the metaphysical presuppositions of cognitive science will not change the field all that much – the bookshelves of every university bookstore in the west is full of critiques of cognitive science and consciousness studies as well as alternative approaches drawing inspiration from various sources, ranging from Quantum Mechanics to Buddhism.  So far, these critiques have hardly made a dent on mainstream cognitive science, which, if anything, is heading towards ever more reductive neural and biological explanations.

I believe that the problem lies not in the overt philosophical commitments of cognitive scientists, but rather in the tacit and unconscious ways in which these commitments are embodied and enacted in the day to day practice of cognitive science. The cognitive scientist who agrees that reductionism is a problem will still automatically look for brain areas in which cognitive functions are localized. Perhaps that makes his paper more acceptable to the journal to which he plans to submit his findings (which itself shows how physicalist metaphysics has utterly penetrated the intellectual economy of cognitive science), or more likely, he does not know what other kind of explanation and exploration of the mind is even possible. The availability of ever more powerful imaging, physiological and genetic technologies for probing the mind make it “natural” for the cognitive scientist to pursue the reductive route to success. This deep co-dependence between physicalist and mentalist metaphors for the mind, mathematical and mechanical technologies and “viable” theories of the mind and consciousness needs to be researched carefully, but for our purposes, it is enough to note that:

  1. Cognitive Science (and modern science in general) has developed in close contact with the development of sophisticated mechanical and mathematical techniques that have provided scientists with the most productive metaphors for the mind.
  2. This vicious circle has to be broken if one is to move out of blindly reductive approaches to cognition.
  3. Breaking this circle will require a rethinking of the nature of machines as well as mathematics and logic, where mechanical and logical systems are seen as open, embedded, embodied systems rather than as isolated, syntactic and abstract systems. Furthermore, this rethinking will have to be fleshed out (both figuratively and literally) as research programs so that future generations of students and researchers will learn how to do mathematics/logic/cognitive science differently.
  4. Indian philosophy will play a crucial role not because its ideas are interesting (which they are) but because we think that its various philosophical lineages embody different but equally critical and rational traditions of exploring the mind.

 

For better or worse, if the archetypal image in modern western cognitive science is that of a computer, then the archetypal image of an ancient Indian cognitive science is the Yogi. One need not buy into orientalist notions of the exotic other to realize that there might be a underlying truth here. The yogi metaphor incorporates a subject-centric perspective on the mind while the computer metaphor simply does not. The ultimate (and emotionally satisfying) irony would be the demonstration that the real yogi is the Indian logician watching smoke billow from his lookout at the base of the mountain rather than the hippie meditator smoking dope at the top of it, but lets not get ahead of our story for the moment.

I would like to end this brief note with a nested series of strategies for a cognitive science research agenda grounded in Indian philosophy, where we begin by noting that:

  1. The soteriological background of Indian philosophy is post-embodied rather than dis-embodied, i.e., pure consciousness or freedom is conceived at the boundary of our embodied existence rather than as a spirit like substance, unrelated to the body that coexists and interacts with the body in some unknown and perhaps unknowable manner.  Therefore, the bugbear of dualism and the concomitant physicalist, reductionist response does not even arise. As a consequence, every major problem in cognitive science, from the nature of subjectivity to the possibility of conscious computers will be cast differently in a Indian approach to cognitive science. Furthermore, seeing our existence as constitutively embodied doesn’t commit us to materialist explanations of the mind, for our current conceptions of matter presuppose the very dualist metaphysics that we are trying to combat in this Indian approach. The possibility of post-embodiment (pure consciousness, moksa, nirvana), admitted by all Indian schools, acts as a counterweight to radical physicalism and reductions of the mind to the body or the body to matter.
  2. Furthermore, as dualism is discarded, we also start taking the subject of knowledge and consciousness as an embodied being more seriously. Instead of asking the question “what is consciousness” we ask “what is it for one to be conscious”. Knowledge is mediated by cognitions, which play an important epistemological role, without overly psychologizing knowledge. Furthermore, cognitions are neutral with respect to the subject-object divide (as I understand them anyway), in that they can be grasped by a subject and point towards an object with equal ease. Note that from a mathematical point of view, the subject is no more mysterious an explanatory construct than the object. In one case arrows go from the cognition to the object, and in the other the arrows go from the subject to the cognition. While my treatment of the mathematical aspects here is all too brief, I want to stress that avenues for further research can be opened up by formulating Indian philosophical notions in terms of appropriate mathematical concepts. One could go so far as to speculate that understanding the role of mathematics in cognitive science based on Indian philosophy will have important implications not only for Indian philosophy but also mathematics itself. The same goes for technology. While Indian philosophers did not use either of the two in their work, there is no doubt that any research effort now will have to engage with both of them, to the benefit of Indian philosophers, mathematicians and technologists.
  3. Finally, we need to engage with the issue of how Indian philosophy will transform the practice of cognitive science. Indian philosophy based cognitive science should break the codependence of cognitive science with syntactic symbolic metaphors as well as mechanical technologies. Not that technology should be shunned, but rather that certain unreflective uses of technology to reduce the mind to matter or the mind to syntactic computation should be set aside and the fundamental problems reconsidered. Here’s where we should start fleshing out concrete problems such as:
  • The problem of learning concepts from examples (by children primarily, but adults as well. Perhaps Dignaga has something to say about concept learning that the Chomsky’s and Fodor’s and Hempel’s have missed.
  • The possibility of analytic entailments that are still empirical (in arthapatti) can help us understand how we humans know that a cup in our hands is no longer on the table from which we picked it up. More generally, it gives us ways to understand knowledge that is both analytic, and innate in some sense, and yet deeply empirical and embedded in the world. Here Indian philosophy can say something important about the nature-nurture debate.  As in the case of mind-body dualism which is rejected in the Indian framework, nature and nurture are not opposing quantities either. Knowledge can be part of our nature and yet be utterly grounded in experience. I am interested in finding out how the basically empiricist attitude of Indian philosophy avoids the rationalist-empiricist divide in modern western philosophy and cognitive science, which I believe, closely parallels and influences the physicalist-dualist divide.

To conclude I would like to say that cognitive science is perhaps the only scientific discipline in which one can think of concrete, systematic and possibly revolutionary interventions based on an understanding of Indian philosophical concepts. Unlike the physicist who sees Vedanta at work in Quantum Mechanics but has no way in which to flesh out his intuition (right or not) in the mathematical language that physicists respect, I can see how Indian philosophy can work its way into the details of cognitive science. Whether that happens or not will be mixture of luck, hard work and creativity, but it is definitely worth a shot.

 

The Mirror Self

August 30, 2015

In a talk, I mentioned that it is impossible to point to oneself; one always points to another person. There is an objection to this argument, namely, that one can point to oneself in a mirror. There are ways to respond to that critique that are mainly of a biological nature, to do with the relatively late evolutionary history of self-recognition in mirrors. However, there is a more fundamental metaphysical question: who does one see when one sees a reflection in a mirror? In some ways, a mirror is a special kind of visual illusion. Here, there can be two lines of argument:(a) That visual illusions -and mirror images in particular- teach us a lot about the workings of normal perception. This is the dominant line in philosophy as well as in cognitive science.(b) The heterodox Gibsonian view, and the view consistent with my “action potential” theory of mind is the exact opposite, that illusions do not tell us much about the normal operations of the mind. If so, mirror images are no more problematic than mirages.
I could make (b) stronger by doing a little bit of ordinary language philosophy and say that the verb ‘see’ is being used in particularly slippery ways when we say
(i) I see a bird (flying in the air above me).
versus
(ii) I can see myself (in a mirror).
Cant resist punning; I can already see a future paper called “What we say about what we see, or why we shouldn’t take reflections at face value.”  Recent work in cognitive science suggests that babies learn to move their bodies and make facial gestures by imitating others. Therefore, the ‘original face’ is not my own, but my mother’s. Therefore, the mirror image, is only contingently ones own face, i.e., it could be someone else’s, it just happens to be my own. There is no logical necessity that I see myself in a mirror. Therefore, I know that I have a face and I have eyes (potentially, if not actually, in the Aristotlean sense) because I have a more primal bodily sympathy/empathy with others.

To the extent that I empathize with the person I see in the mirror, I see my face. The self-image is not the self. The same goes for self-percept, self-concept etc. A Buddhist style of argumentation might say that there is nothing more to the self than self-images, self-percepts and self-concepts. If that is correct, then the mirror-image self is as much of a self as the self from the inside out. However, if there is more to the self than the self-image, we could argue that the self is more than its images and reflections.There is an interesting see-saw battle between the reductionist who wants to get rid of the self all together and the holist, who says that there is more to the self than its images.

A heavy use of the mirror self as an intuition pump leads toward an internalization of reflection, from mirrors in the world to our own capacity to hold thoughts, with the ultimate aim of reducing the self itself to a series of images. I, on the other hand, am trying to externalise thoughts and images, saying that these are projections, in between the world and the self, but are neither one, nor the other. To conclude:

(a) We can expand the line of inquiry initiated above to perceptions as a whole, and not just reflections. The reductionist -the Buddhist, for example- argues that perceptual objects are nothing more than an agglomeration of experiences, which in turn are nothing more than images, sounds etc. In other words, if the self is nothing more than the sum of reflections, by symmetry, the objects of the self should also should be nothing more than a sum of perceptions. This is what I should have said earlier, when I said that mirrors and mirages have the same function; if mirrors can be used to understand the self, mirages can be used to understand perception. To the extent that the self and its objects are not images stitched together, we can neither reduce the self to a sum of reflections, nor can we reduce an object to a sum of views.
(b) Introduce the idea of a-thing-from-its-own-side as a refinement of what I was calling the self from the inside out. Is the self “a-thing-from-its-own-side,” which, for example, is that from which we point, rather than what we point at. Like the snake trying to eat its own tail, it might be possible for the pointer to be the pointed, but one has to be very hungry before consuming oneself.

Consciousness Unexplained

August 30, 2015

Academic work, like any other human activity, is dependent on constant practice.  Writing routines are hard to re-establish once they are broken. If you go away to a conference for a week, the momentum that has been built up before that period disappears and is replaced by its opposite, i.e., an aversion to putting thoughts to paper. You could say that this is a psychological law of inertia, i.e., you are likely to keep doing things the way you did in the past few days and so if your routine gets upended for some external reason, its going to percolate into your life even when the intrusion disappears. I guess that explains why privacy is important for any kind of creative work because constant intrusions can upset your inertial state even when the offending person goes away (as opposed to self driven interactions with peers, where you are no longer in the work frame, so its not seen in your subconscious as an intrusion at all).
Anyway, this psychological law of inertial is not what this post is about. I have been thinking about what is called the “hard problem of consciousness”. By the hard problem, philosophers and cognitive scientists mean at least two different things:

(a) Why is it that there is anything like the qualitative aspect of an experience such as the enticing red of a local New England apple picked in September that burst with flavour when bitten and

(b) The uniquely subjective, “first person” character consciousness where supposedly you cannot tell whether I am having the experience of a red apple or a blue mango even if we are seeing the same object.

What seems really strange is that the subjective first person character of an experience of biting into an apple can be studied and even understood from an objective scientific point of view. Indeed, if I was running a apple orchard, I could test my apples for some combination of chemicals that increase their perceived taste and hybridize tastier varieties even if I didn’t have a taste bud on my tongue.

In other words, objective quantities can be reliable signatures of subjective experiences.  Modern economies depend (in fact, enforce) on our signatures on dotted lines standing for our commitment to various actions. Here is where the problem of consciousness really comes in: On the one hand, these signatures stand for our presence, but on the other hand they are not really us. Nobody would confuse you for your signature on a cheque, but in some sense, that signature is also you, as far as the domain of commerce is concerned. So, is the cheque part of you or not?

We seem to have varying intuitions when it come to collapsing the distinction between signatures and the things that the signatures represent. Turing, in his famous Turing test for intelligence argued that the signature is the thing itself when it comes to intelligence. According to the Turing test, a computer that cannot be distinguished from a human being as far as verbal behaviour is concerned is as intelligent as a human being, i.e., the signature of intelligence is the same as intelligence itself.

The same puzzle can be seen in our intuitions about the relationship between minds and our brains: if brain activities are reliable signatures of our mental states, then are they the same as our mental states? Or, to take another example: our facial gestures are reliable indicators of our emotional state, so should we identify facial gestures with their emotions? One can see the real quandary that arises in this case: while my feeling of joy doesn’t seem to be the same as my smile, the smile is surely part of the feeling of joy, its not just an abstract indicator of my joy.

Here is the heart of the problem of consciousness then: while objective facts, behaviours, chemical states etc are reliable indicators of our experiences, they are no more than signatures of our experience. To know a signature is to know enough about the object as far as current norms of scientific inquiry (i.e., inquiry based on the criteria of prediction and explanation) is concerned. If I know the path that the moon took last month when it revolved around the earth (the signature in this case) then I know as much as I need to in order to predict the future behaviour of the moon.

But predictive, explanatory knowledge is not enough for understanding experience. To take the emotion example again, while I can predict that you are angry by reading your facial gestures (and flee if needed), I don’t know what anger feels like to you. A real science of consciousness will not emerge until we can go beyond the current norms of scientific inquiry, which value prediction and explanation over understanding.

What would such a science look like? For one, it will have to start from something besides objective measurements (which are signatures of the things being measured after all). At the very least, we would have to record subjective and objective measurements simultaneously. In the emotion case, one would have to record both objective measurements (like the extent to which your eyebrows are raised and your lips pursed) and subjective measurements (reports of how angry or sad you feel). A real science of consciousness will take subjective and objective data as its starting point. Once it does that, both aspects of the hard problem of consciousness become amenable to investigation. Instead of asking “how come there is such a thing as the taste of an apple in a world of objective facts?” we will investigate the relationship between the objective and the subjective aspects of being an apple simultaneously. To conclude, its only our metaphysical bias towards “objectivity” that keeps us from doing scientific investigations of consciousness.

Startupman

August 28, 2015

Until about 2000, perhaps even 2005, the term genius was used for artists, scientists and philosophers. I think of Andrew Wiles staring at sheets of paper in his Princeton office as he contemplated Fermat’s last theorem. Or Miyazaki spiriting us away into a magical kingdom. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were smart, talented and very very rich but they weren’t geniuses. 

Not anymore. There’s absolutely nothing that entrepreneurs can’t become if they set their minds to it. They can be creative, they can be wise, they can fix the climate and end poverty and at the end of it all count their billions in their Palo Alto garages. Like so many other words before them, creativity and wisdom have succumbed to the charms of commodification and have become creativity 2.0 and wisdom 2.0. 

While rumors of startupman have been circulating since 1998, he was first spotted on earth in 2011, after the recession had receded a tiny bit and money was flowing through Sandy Hill once again. Startup man is the universal being of our times. He is scrappy and tough. Complex engineering problems are a piece of cake for him. Most importantly, he can raise money from old white men like a hill in Boston was named after him.

Startupman’s gifts don’t stop at engineering and business; he can write novels and organize expeditions to Mars. He can meditate to end world hunger while playing the guitar. I am waiting for the startupman app. Rumor has it that Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all working on one, but I bet you there’s a kid in a basement somewhere who’s going to beat them to it.