Highlights from a PopTech Talk by Sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, author of "Outliers: The Story of Success." "When we observe differences in how individuals s...
"We have a scarcity of achievement... not because we have a scarcity of talent. We have a scarcity of achievement because we're squandering our talent. And that's not bad news that's good news; because it says that this scarcity is not something we have to live with. It's something we can do something about."
Quijada, a fifty-four-year-old former employee of the California D.M.V., spent three decades inventing Ithkuil, an artificial language which is both maximally precise and maximally concise.
It wasn’t long after he released his manuscript on the Internet that a small community of language enthusiasts began to recognize what Quijada, a civil servant without an advanced degree, had accomplished. Ithkuil, one Web site declared, “is a monument to human ingenuity and design.” It may be the most complete realization of a quixotic dream that has entranced philosophers for centuries: the creation of a more perfect language.
A cyborg, or "cybernetic organism", was initially defined as follows: "The Cyborg deliberately incorporates exogenous components extending the self-regulating control function of the organism in order to adapt it to new environments." This verbose sentence can be simplified to, the cyborg represents "a notion of human-machine merging".
This concept, dear to science fiction writers, is all about humans becoming stronger, faster, and more powerful through the use of integrated technology. One example of this is the cochlear implants used to help deaf people hear again; these implants are more than hearing aids, since they interface directly with nerve endings. Another example is prosthetics, which allow people who have lost limbs in accidents to function almost as before.
Andy Clark, a cognitive scientist, sets out to recount why, in his eyes, "we shall be cyborgs not in the merely superficial sense of combining flesh and wires but in the more profound sense of being human-technology symbionts: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and nonbiological circuitry." This is quite a statement, if you look at it closely: he is suggesting that the systems we will incorporate into our bodies will be thinking systems, that they will merge with our minds, and that they will be come self-aware.
"Cartesian-inspired dualism enforces a theoretical distinction between the motor and the cognitive and locates the mental exclusively in the head. This collection, focusing on the hand, challenges this dichotomy, offering theoretical and empirical perspectives on the interconnectedness and interdependence of the manual and mental. The contributors explore the possibility that the hand, far from being the merely mechanical executor of preconceived mental plans, possesses its own know-how, enabling “enhanded” beings to navigate the natural, social, and cultural world without engaging propositional thought, consciousness, and deliberation.
The contributors consider not only broad philosophical questions—ranging from the nature of embodiment, enaction, and the extended mind to the phenomenology of agency—but also such specific issues as touching, grasping, gesturing, sociality, and simulation. They show that the capacities of the hand include perception (on its own and in association with other modalities), action, (extended) cognition, social interaction, and communication. Taken together, their accounts offer a handbook of cutting-edge research exploring the ways that the manual shapes and reshapes the mental and creates conditions for embodied agents to act in the world".
E-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as such technologies improve, but research suggests that reading on paper still boasts unique advantages
As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly? How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper? Should we be worried about dividing our attention between pixels and ink or is the validity of such concerns paper-thin?
These are the six Norton Lectures that Jorge Luis Borges delivered at Harvard University in the fall of 1967 and spring of 1968. The recordings, only lately discovered in the Harvard University Archives, uniquely capture the cadences, candor, wit, and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices of our age. Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished, the lost lectures return to us now in Borges' own voice.
Cognitive abilities often regarded as unique to humans include humor, morality, symbolism, creativity, and preoccupation with the minds of others.
In these compelling talks, emphasis is placed on the functional uniqueness of these attributes, as opposed to the anatomical uniqueness, and whether these attributes are indeed quantitatively or qualitatively unique to humans.
Colin Renfrew (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research) begins with the Archaeological Evidence for Mind, followed by Daniel Povinelli (Univ of Louisiana at Lafayette) on Desperately Seeking Explanation, and Patricia Churchland (UC San Diego) on Moral Sense.
Why are modern afflictions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension largely non-existent in tribal societies? Do traditional societies have superior ideas a
Join Jared Diamond as he draws on his experiences from over five decades working and living in New Guinea, an island that is home to one thousand of the world’s 7,000 languages and one of the most culturally diverse places on earth. He will explore how tribal peoples approach essential human problems, from child rearing to old age to conflict resolution to health.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a generous spirit suffused the internet, whose users were few and far between. But today, the net is ubiquitous, connecting billion
William Daniel “Danny” Hillis is an American inventor, scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and author. He co-founded Thinking Machines Corporation, a company that developed the Connection Machine, a parallel supercomputer designed by Hillis at MIT.
Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country.
How can science, philosophy and a work of pure imagination meet to deepen our understanding of the physical world?
In 1927 a young German physicist published a paper that would turn the scientific world on its head. Until that time, classical physics had assumed that when a particle’s position and velocity were known, its future trajectory could be calculated. Werner Heisenberg demonstrated that this condition was actually impossible: we cannot know with precision both a particle’s location and its velocity, and the more precisely we know the one, the less we can know the other. Five years later he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for having laid the foundations of quantum physics.
This discovery has all the hallmarks of a modern scientific breakthrough; so it may be surprising to learn that the uncertainty principle was intuited by Heisenberg’s contemporary, the Argentine poet and fiction writer Jorge Luis Borges, and predicted by philosophers centuries and even millenniums before him.
While Borges did not comment on the revolution in physics that was occurring during his lifetime, he was obsessively concerned with paradoxes, and in particular those of the Greek philosopher Zeno. As he wrote in one of his essays: “Let us admit what all the idealists admit: the hallucinatory character of the world. Let us do what no idealist has done: let us look for unrealities that confirm that character. We will find them, I believe, in the antinomies of Kant and in the dialectic of Zeno.”
Deep brain stimulation is becoming very precise. This technique allows surgeons to place electrodes in almost any area of the brain, and turn them up or down -- like a radio dial or thermostat -- to correct dysfunction.
Speaker Series Lecture by Dr. Richard Wrangham, Harvard University & Leakey Foundation Grantee September 22, 2007 at the Field Museum in Chicago Harvard anth...
Human beings are not obviously equipped to be nature’s gladiators. We have no claws, no armor. That we eat meat seems surprising, because we are not made for chewing it uncooked in the wild. Our jaws are weak; our teeth are blunt; our mouths are small. That thing below our noses? It truly is a pie hole.
To attend to these facts, for some people, is to plead for vegetarianism or for a raw-food diet. We should forage and eat the way our long-ago ancestors surely did. For Richard Wrangham, however, these facts and others demonstrate something quite different. They help prove that we are, as he vividly puts it, “the cooking apes, the creatures of the flame.”
Jared Diamond articulately spelled out how his best-selling book, COLLAPSE, took shape. At first it was going to be a book of 18 chapters chronicling 18 coll...
At first it was going to be a book of 18 chapters chronicling 18 collapses of once-powerful societies--- the Mayans with the most advanced culture in the Americas, the Anasazi who built six-story skyscrapers at Chaco, the Norse who occupied Greenland for 500 years. But he wanted to contrast those with success stories like Tokugawa-era Japan, which wholly reversed its lethal deforestation, and Iceland, which learned to finesse a highly fragile and subtle environment...
Series of small talks about how our world - and our understanding of it - is changing. American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says he would like to go to space himself, or at the very least help others get there, but he’s content living vicariously through the robots for now.