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Truth and Trust: Maturana and Von Foerster

The first of a series of three 30 minute videos produced by the American Society for Cybernetics and Change Management Systems, directed by Pille Bunnell, 19...
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This one is about Science and Reality.

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cognition
How it evolved, what we do with it, futures; And otherwise interesting stuff
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Why a technologically enhanced future will be less good than we think | OUPblog

Why a technologically enhanced future will be less good than we think | OUPblog | cognition | Scoop.it

Today there are high hopes for technological progress. Techno-optimists expect massive benefits for humankind from the invention of new technologies. Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X-prize foundation whose purpose is to arrange competitions for breakthrough inventions. His aim is “a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy”. The Internet is a special focus for techno-optimists. According to the Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen “future connectivity promises a dazzling array of ‘quality of life’ improvements: things that make you healthier, safer and more engaged”. K. Eric Drexler’s preferred instrument of universal prosperity is nanotechnology. He envisages a future in which miniature robots produce “a radical abundance beyond the dreams of any king, a post-industrial material abundance that reaches the ends of the earth and lightens its burden.”


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The Work We Do While We Sleep - The New Yorker

The Work We Do While We Sleep - The New Yorker | cognition | Scoop.it
It’s strange, when you think about it, that we spend close to a third of our lives asleep. Why do we do it? While we’re sleeping, we’re vulnerable—and, at least on the outside, supremely unproductive. In a 1719 sermon, “Vigilius, or, The Awakener,” Cotton Mather called an excess of sleep “sinful” and lamented that we often sleep when we should be working. Benjamin Franklin echoed the sentiment in “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” when he quipped that “there’ll be sleeping enough in the grave.” For a long time, sleep’s apparent uselessness amused even the scientists who studied it. The Harvard sleep researcher Robert Stickgold has recalled his former collaborator J. Allan Hobson joking that the only known function of sleep was to cure sleepiness. In a 2006 review of the explanations researchers had proposed for sleep, Marcos Frank, a neuroscientist then working at the University of Pennsylvania (he is now at WSU Spokane) concluded that the evidence for sleep’s putative effects on cognition was “weak or equivocal.”

But in the past decade, and even the past year, the mystery has seemed to be abating. In a series of conversations with sleep scientists this May, I was offered a glimpse of converging lines of inquiry that are shedding light on why such a significant part of our lives is spent lying inert, with our eyes closed, not doing anything that seems particularly meaningful or relevant to, well, anything. (The meetings were facilitated by a Harvard Medical School Media Fellowship.)

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What is consciousness for? — Consciousness is a life-transforming illusion by Keith Frankish — Aeon Ideas

What is consciousness for?  — Consciousness is a life-transforming illusion by Keith Frankish — Aeon Ideas | cognition | Scoop.it
It appears, then, that the brain can do the work of perception without qualia. So, again, what is consciousness for? In his 2011 book Soul Dust, Humphrey proposes a novel idea. He argues that consciousness enriches life. It doesn’t add information; it adds interests and goals. Qualia are wonderful, magical things, and conscious creatures enjoy having them. They relish their sensations, and this relish gives them a deeper interest in their own existence.
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Ruby Wax on Neuroplasticity: "You're the Architect of Your Own Brain" | Big Think

Ruby Wax on Neuroplasticity: "You're the Architect of Your Own Brain" | Big Think | cognition | Scoop.it
Ruby Wax gave up a career in comedy to study the brain. In this video, she explains the therapeutic qualities of neuroplasticity.

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Let’s Shape AI Before AI Shapes Us

Let’s Shape AI Before AI Shapes Us | cognition | Scoop.it
It’s time to have a global conversation about how AI should be developed

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What is life? Is death real? - Aeon Video

What is life? Is death real? - Aeon Video | cognition | Scoop.it
What is life? Is death real? How the questions that have troubled some of history’s greatest thinkers are still very hard to answer
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Hallucinating children

Hallucinating children | cognition | Scoop.it
I’ve got an article in The Observer about childhood hallucinations which are much more common than we previously imagined.
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An alternative history of the human mind

An alternative history of the human mind | cognition | Scoop.it
Nautilus has an excellent article on a theory of consciousness that is very likely wrong but so startlingly original it is widely admired: Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind.
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Company Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs

Company Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs | cognition | Scoop.it
Johnson & Johnson named the bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan to create a panel to decide on patients’ requests for lifesaving medicines before they are approved.
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Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos

Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos | cognition | Scoop.it
In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. The results are published1 in the online journal Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumours that such experiments had been conducted—rumours that sparked a high-profile debate last month2, 3 about the ethical implications of such work.

In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications.

"I believe this is the first report of CRISPR/Cas9 applied to human pre-implantation embryos and as such the study is a landmark, as well as a cautionary tale," says George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes."

Some say that gene editing in embryos could have a bright future because it could eradicate devastating genetic diseases before a baby is born. Others say that such work crosses an ethical line: researchers warned in Nature2 in March that because the genetic changes to embryos, known as germline modification, are heritable, they could have an unpredictable effect on future generations. Researchers have also expressed concerns that any gene-editing research on human embryos could be a slippery slope towards unsafe or unethical uses of the technique.

The paper by Huang's team looks set to reignite the debate on human-embryo editing — and there are reports that other groups in China are also experimenting on human embryos.

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Daniel Levitin on information overload - Aeon Video

Daniel Levitin on information overload - Aeon Video | cognition | Scoop.it
The neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says multitasking doesn’t work and that we should daydream more to deal with our information overload.
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A 7 minutes video

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Redefining Utopia and Dystopia or Post-Apoc

Redefining Utopia and Dystopia or Post-Apoc | cognition | Scoop.it
I thought that this review by Niall Harrison at Strange Horizons of James Bradley’s Clade was pretty fascinating and extremely useful.
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Scientists Demonstrate Animal Mind-Melds

Scientists Demonstrate Animal Mind-Melds | cognition | Scoop.it
New studies say rats and monkeys whose brains are linked by electrodes can coordinate their brains to carry out tasks, often better than individuals do.

Via Sandeep Gautam
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"If a brain network were to commit a crime, for example, who exactly would be guilty?"

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Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, July 13, 10:49 AM

Wiring brains together. 

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Is consciousness an engineering problem? – Michael Graziano – Aeon

Is consciousness an engineering problem? – Michael Graziano – Aeon | cognition | Scoop.it
We could build an artificial brain that believes itself to be conscious. Does that mean we have solved the hard problem?
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"The theory explains why the robot refuses to believe the theory. And now we have something that begins to sound spooky. We have a machine that insists it’s no mere machine. It operates by processing information while insisting that it doesn’t. It says it has consciousness and describes it in the same ways that we humans do. And it arrives at that conclusion by introspection – by a layer of cognitive machinery that accesses internal models. The machine is captive to its internal models, so it can’t arrive at any other conclusions."

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Metaphor map charts the images that structure our thinking

Metaphor map charts the images that structure our thinking | cognition | Scoop.it
Metaphor is not the sole preserve of Shakespearean scholarship or high literary endeavour but has governed how we think about and describe our daily lives for centuries, according to researchers at Glasgow University.

Experts have now created the world’s first online Metaphor Map, which contains more than 14,000 metaphorical connections sourced from 4m pieces of lexical data, some of which date back to 700AD.

While it is impossible to pinpoint the oldest use of metaphor in English, because some may have been adopted from earlier languages such as Germanic, the map reveals that the still popular link between sheep and timidity dates back to Old English. Likewise, we do not always recognise modern use of metaphor: for example, the word “comprehend” comes from Latin, where it meant to physically grasp an object.

The three-year-long project to map the use of metaphor across the entire history of the English language, undertaken by researchers at the School of Critical Studies, was based on data contained in the Historical Thesaurus of English, which spans 13 centuries.

Dr Wendy Anderson, the project’s principal investigator, said that the findings supported the view that metaphor is pervasive in language and is also a major mechanism of meaning-change.

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Art shaped by science “is the new avant-garde”, physicists are told

Art shaped by science “is the new avant-garde”, physicists are told | cognition | Scoop.it
Artists are beginning to think like scientists and scientists like artists as aesthetics is being redefined, Professor Arthur I. Miller argued at an event on “Physics in Public Spaces” held at the IOP’s London centre on 23 June

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Will head transplants create an entirely new person?

Will head transplants create an entirely new person? | cognition | Scoop.it
The world’s first full head transplant could take place as soon as 2017 if the controversial plans by Italian neuroscientist Dr Sergio Canavero come to pass. Wheelchair-bound Valery Spiridonov, who has the muscle-wasting Werdnig Hoffman disease, has volunteered to have his head transplanted onto a healthy body in a day-long operation.

The proposed surgery is highly controversial and its feasibility has been questioned by experts. But Dr Canavero’s plans also raise complex philosophical and ethical issues. A natural question is whether a living person with Spridinov’s head and someone else’s body would be the same person as Spridinov. In interviews, Spridinov has made it clear that he sees the proposed procedure as a way for him to live on with a new and healthy body.
A different perspective would be that Spridinov is a head-donor rather than the recipient of a new body. He is donating his head to someone else who will live the rest of his life with Spridinov’s head but won’t be the same person as Spridinov. On this account, Spridinov is signing his own death warrant by volunteering for the surgery.

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Exclusive: Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio and Others Debate Christof Koch on the Nature of Consciousness

Exclusive: Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio and Others Debate Christof Koch on the Nature of Consciousness | cognition | Scoop.it
A few neurologists and brain scientists are proposing that the secret underlying all conscious activity must lie with the way cells respond to stimuli they receive from their environment. In a response to this suggestion, Christof Koch asserts that much more is required for a full theory of consciousness

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Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, June 19, 7:30 AM

I am on Koch's side!

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What are the ethics of alien contact? – Lizzie Wade – Aeon

What are the ethics of alien contact? – Lizzie Wade – Aeon | cognition | Scoop.it
When we meet aliens, it won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it will be a gold rush. Can we make sure it’s ethical?
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If, on the other hand, we discover microbial or otherwise non-sentient life within our own solar system – logistics will be on our side. We’d be able to visit within a reasonable period of time (as far as space travel goes), and I hope we’d want to. If the life we find resembles plants, their complexity will wow us. Most likely we’ll find simple single-celled microbes or maybe – maybe – something like sponges or tubeworms. In terms of encounter, we’d be making all the decisions about how to proceed.

…This makes defining an ethics of contact necessary now, before we have to put it into practice. 

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Science Has Fucking Amazing News for People Who Curse

Science Has Fucking Amazing News for People Who Curse | cognition | Scoop.it
WTF FTW!
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But what we consider profanity changes as language evolves. If a word loses its shock appeal, it probably loses its ameliorative power.

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Do we really want to fuse our minds together? – Peter Watts – Aeon

Do we really want to fuse our minds together? – Peter Watts – Aeon | cognition | Scoop.it
New research puts us on the cusp of brain-to-brain communication. Could the next step spell the end of individual minds?
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Consciousness remains mysterious. But there’s no reason to regard it as magical, no evidence of spectral bonds that hold a soul in one head and keep it from leaking into another. And one of the things we do know is that consciousness spreads to fill the space available. Smaller selves disappear into larger; two hemispheres integrate into one. The architectural specifics aren’t even all that important if Tononi is right, if the Cambridge Declaration is anything to go on. You don’t need a neocortex or a hypothalamus. All you need is complexity and a sufficiently fat pipe.

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New insight into how the brain makes memories | KurzweilAI

New insight into how the brain makes memories | KurzweilAI | cognition | Scoop.it
Every time you make a memory, somewhere in your brain a tiny filament called a dendritic spine reaches out from one neuron and forms an electrochemical connection to a neighboring neuron. Now a team of biologists at Vanderbilt University has discovered more about how these connections are formed at the molecular and cellular level.

In a series of experiments described in the April 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the researchers report that a specific signaling protein, Asef2, a member of a family of proteins that regulate cell migration and adhesion, plays a critical role in this spine formation. This is significant because Asef2 has been linked to autism and the co-occurrence of alcohol dependency and depression.

“Alterations in dendritic spines are associated with many neurological and developmental disorders, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down Syndrome,” said study leader Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Donna Webb. “However, the formation and maintenance of spines is a very complex process that we are just beginning to understand.”

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Existential Risk | Edge.org

Existential Risk | Edge.org | cognition | Scoop.it
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"We need to figure out how to steer the technological progress to ensure safe outcomes."

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