cognition
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How it evolved, what we do with it, futures; And otherwise interesting stuff
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Collapse of Complex Societies by Dr. Joseph Tainter

http://localfuture.org The collapse of complex societies of the past can inform the present on the risks of collapse. Dr. Joseph Tainter, author of the book ...
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2010 International Conference on Sustainability: Energy, Economy, and Environment organized by Local Future nonprofit and directed by Aaron Wissner.

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What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies

What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies | cognition | Scoop.it
Why are modern afflictions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension largely non-existent in tribal societies? Do traditional societies have superior ideas a
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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.

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FastTFriend's comment, April 6, 2013 10:14 AM
Insights into the status of old age
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The Internet Could Crash, We need a Plan B

The Internet Could Crash, We need a Plan B | cognition | Scoop.it
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
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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.

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WHAT'S THE QUESTION ABOUT YOUR FIELD THAT YOU DREAD BEING ASKED? | Edge.org

WHAT'S THE QUESTION ABOUT YOUR FIELD THAT YOU DREAD BEING ASKED? | Edge.org | cognition | Scoop.it
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What question about your field do you dread being asked? Maybe it's a sore point: your field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer. Or it's a question that belies a deep misunderstanding: the best answer is to question the question.  


CONTRIBUTORS: Raj Chetty, Lawrence Krauss *, Adam Alter *, George Dyson, Jens Ludwig, Emanuel Derman, Scott Atran, Jaron Lanier, Haim Harari, Richard Thaler, Paul Bloom, Michael Norton *, Samuel Arbesman *, Lillian Lee *, Jon Kleinberg *, Nicholas Epley *

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Iain M. Banks on the 25th Anniversary of the Culture | Orbit Books

Iain M. Banks on the 25th Anniversary of the Culture | Orbit Books | cognition | Scoop.it

An interview with Iain M. Banks about THE HYDROGEN SONATA and the 25th Anniversary of the Culture series.

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The Culture is the ultimate utopia: an egalitarian, post-scarcity society, whose citizens want for nothing and do not fear illness or disease, instead being free to live lives of apparent luxury. Yet what power exists in the Culture is firmly in the hands of the Minds, which are artificial intelligences. To what extent are you suggesting that humankind could not achieve a utopia like that of the Culture without ceding control to machines? Is human nature too destructive and corruptible to ever achieve such a utopia otherwise?

In a sense I’m trying to pre-empt objections to the very idea of the Culture.  Suggesting that beings much like us can achieve a functioning utopia as though it’s part of our plausible, easily-envisaged future, our expected and plausible destiny, always seemed a bit wishy-washy to me; too much like just wish-fulfilment.  Arguably we express as too inherently nasty, too prone to become violent, too prone to xenophobia and too easily en-mired in our noxious mythologies of false comfort and dubious exceptionalism for this to make sense (narrative, psychological or philosophical).  Taking away the excuse that we need to be mean and selfish to others because, heck, there just ain’t enough of everything to go around… well, that’s one step, but I suspect that while it might be necessary to achieve a hi-tech utopia, it’s not sufficient.  The Minds – the Culture’s high-level AIs – are the other part of the equation.  The humans create them and enough of these god-like entities stick around to save us from ourselves.  The children create the adults, and behave better as a result.  I submit this is no more likely to be wrong than the idea that as soon as we create an AI it’ll try to exterminate us is right – that’s the us in it talking, if I can put it that way; that’s our guilty conscience articulating.  The final get-out is that in the end the mongrel Culture, though suspiciously human-like in so many ways, isn’t us, so they might just be naturally nicer than we’d ever be in the same situation.  Cos that’s evolution, that is.

Anyway, one of the side-tracks of the Culture I’m thinking about exploring at some point is one of the parts of it where Minds don’t get involved, and people run everything themselves; they’d have computers, I guess, but no Minds.  Smart help without any of that concomitant but deeply annoying wisdom.  I am not yet sure how this will go.

The tricky thing about claiming we’ll ever create a utopian society is that our record up to this point is so lamentable:  you can create something as close to utopia as technologically possible at any point in your development once you have a reliable surplus of food and goods; it’s not about having rocket-belts, floating cities or even smart-alec drones, it’s about having the shared urge, resolve and will to behave decently, altruistically and non-xenophobically towards your fellow human beings, whether your latest invention was the wheel, moveable type or an FTL drive.  And in that respect – I humbly submit – we’ve been heading backwards quite rapidly over the last thirty years or so.  It would be pleasant to believe that we’re starting to pull up and out of our nose-dive into the morass of Greedism and Marketolatry that has characterised our civilisation for the last three decades, but frankly it’s still too early to tell yet.

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Rupert Sheldrake at EU 2013—"Science Set Free" (Part 1)

Part 1 of a talk by Rupert Sheldrake at the conference ELECTRIC UNIVERSE 2013: The Tipping Point, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. SEE PART 2: http://www.youtube....
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Many scientists like to think that science already understands the ways of the natural world. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. The impressive achievements of science seemed to support this confident attitude. But recent research has revealed unexpected problems at the heart of physics, cosmology, biology, medicine and psychology.

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INTERVIEW WITH ISAAC ASIMOV

1975 ARC Identifier 54491 / Local Identifier 306.9415. 

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BOURGIN INTERVIEWS ISAAC ASIMOV, BIOCHEMIST AND SCIENCE FICTION WRITER. MR. ASIMOV MAY BE THE MOST WIDELY READ OF ALL SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS, HAVING WRITTEN 155 BOOKS AND HUNDREDS OF MAGAZINE ARTICLES AND SHORT STORIES. A CLIP OF "FANTASTIC VOYAGE," BASED ON HIS BOOK, IS INSERTED IN THE PROGRAM. VIEWERS WILL FIND THIS INTERVIEW PROVOCATIVE IN REGARD TO WHAT MR. ASIMOV HAS TO SAY ABOUT WRITING AND THE FUTURE OF THIS EARTH

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We Think the Future Is Closer Than the Past: Scientific American Podcast

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The researchers interpret the finding to mean that the future feels closer because it seems like we’re literally moving towards it. Gives new meaning to the phrase, “Looking forward to seeing you.”


podcast available at the link.

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Daniel Dennett: 'I don't like theory of mind' – interview

Daniel Dennett: 'I don't like theory of mind' – interview | cognition | Scoop.it
American philosopher Daniel Dennett talks to Carole Jahme about faith, science, empathy – and Short Circuit

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This week American philosopher Daniel Dennett, a long-time stalwart of Darwin@LSE, shared his wisdom with a lunchtime crowd in the London School of Economics' Old Theatre. Since fellow philosopher Helena Cronin's 1995 launch of the LSE hub (which is devoted to evolution's maxims) Dennett has been a regular guest. His mission this week to persuade the public that cultural evolution exists and is facilitated due to our hierarchical nature, where those at the top tell others what to think and do. Dennett rhetorically asked, "Does culture make us smart enough to have minds?"

From studying the human ability to become good at things without understanding, which then leads to our acquisition of the cognisance to comprehend, via our competence, Dennett favours the theory (first suggested by Richard Dawkins) that our social learning has given us a second information highway (in addition to the genetic highway) where the transmission of variant cultural information (memes) takes place via differential replication. Software viruses, for example, can be understood as memes, and as memes evolve in complexity, so does human cognition: "The mind is the effect, not the cause."

Not all philosophers, including Cronin, agree that natural selection shapes culture. But Dennett goes even further, describing a spectrum where, at one end, memes are authorless and free floating and at the opposite end they are guided by forethought, are less Darwinian and more purposeful, such as statistics, computer software and poetry. "Natural selection is not gene centrist and nor is biology all about genes, our comprehending minds are a result of our fast evolving culture. Words are memes that can be spoken and words are the best example of memes. Words have a genealogy and it's easier to trace the evolution of a single word than the evolution of a language."

Because Dennett is an approachable, kind man, once his lecture finished I proposed accompanying him to his lunch appointment and asking a few questions en route. Luckily, he agreed.


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danijel drnić's curator insight, March 25, 2013 8:15 AM

..i da li je samo jezik slučajno ili namjerno sredstvo kojime se čitav svemir koristi. Jezik, govor, nije samo specifičan za ljude. Komunikacija se odvija na svim nivoima. 

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How Your Language Affects Your Wealth and Health: Scientific American

How Your Language Affects Your Wealth and Health: Scientific American | cognition | Scoop.it
An international study suggests languages shape how we think about the future, and how we plan for it
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Chen’s recent findings suggest that an unlikely factor, language, strongly affects our future-oriented behavior. Some languages strongly distinguish the present and the future. Other languages only weakly distinguish the present and the future. Chen’s recent research suggests that people who speak languages that weakly distinguish the present and the future are better prepared for the future.

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FastTFriend's comment, March 23, 2013 5:46 AM
Language can move the future back and forth
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What is Life?

What is Life? | cognition | Scoop.it
Richard Dawkins, J. Craig Venter, Nobel laureates Sidney Altman and Leland Hartwell, Chris McKay, Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss, and The Science Network's R
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Philosophers wrestling with the big questions of life are no longer alone. Now scientists are struggling to define life as they manipulate it, look for it on other planets, and even create it in test tubes.

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The Julian Jaynes Collection | Edited by Marcel Kuijsten

The Julian Jaynes Collection | Edited by Marcel Kuijsten | cognition | Scoop.it
The Julian Jaynes Collection edited by Marcel Kuijsten
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Discussion of the life of Julian Jaynes.All of Jaynes's relevant articles and lectures for the first time gathered together in one volume.Previously unpublished lectures by Julian Jaynes, including "The Dream of Agamemnon," which extends his theory to dreams and the discovery of time, and "Imagination and the Dance of the Self," discussing the nature of the self, emotions, and the consequences of consciousness.Rare and previously unpublished radio and in-person interviews and in-depth question and answer sessions with Julian Jaynes discussing many aspects of his theory, including: the nature of consciousness, dreams, consciousness in children, cognition in animals, the discovery of time, the nature of the self, the mentality of tribes, emotions, art, music, poetry, prophecy, mental illness, therapy, the consequences and future of consciousness, brain hemisphere differences, vestiges of the bicameral mind, and much more. In these interviews and discussions, Jaynes addresses nearly every question one might have about his theory. This is the closest one could come to having a personal conversation with Julian Jaynes.

 

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There Is Only Awe-"There is no such thing as a complete consciousness,”Julian Jaynes

There Is Only Awe-"There is no such thing as a complete consciousness,”Julian Jaynes | cognition | Scoop.it

“There is no such thing as a complete consciousness,” he writes.

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Julian Jaynes, a psychologist at Princeton, had little patience for his colleagues, who spent hours in the lab doing “petty, petty humdrum things.” He dismissed their “objective aridity,” “cunning lingo,” and “valiant nonsense.” The field of psychology, he wrote, was little more than “bad poetry disguised as science.” 

Jaynes published only one book, in 1976, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which tells the story of how mankind learned to think. Critics described it as a bizarre and reckless masterpiece—the American Journal of Psychiatry called Jaynes “as startling as Freud in the Interpretation of Dreams.” Drawing on evidence from neurology, archaeology, art history, theology, and Greek poetry, Jaynes captured the experience of modern consciousness—“a whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can”—as sensitively and tragically as any great novelist. 

 


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Pierre Levy's curator insight, March 17, 2013 1:23 PM

"The origin of consciousness in the bicameral mind" by Julian Jaynes, is a must read!

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Jared Diamond - How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed - Long Now Foundation

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...
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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...

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Earth and Beyond

Earth and Beyond | cognition | Scoop.it

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.

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New Test for Computers: Grading Essays at College Level

New Test for Computers: Grading Essays at College Level | cognition | Scoop.it
A system developed by a joint venture between Harvard and M.I.T. uses artificial intelligence to assess student papers and short written answers, freeing instructors for other tasks.
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Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program. And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade.


EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such a system and will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it. The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks.

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How Memes Are Orchestrated by the Man

How Memes Are Orchestrated by the Man | cognition | Scoop.it
Corporations had more to to with the popularity of the Harlem Shake than you or I did.

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Experts said the "Harlem Shake" phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet--accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a "meme" that "went viral." But this is untrue. The real story of the "Harlem Shake" shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same.The word "meme" comes from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Bits of information, memes, propagate from brain to brain through imitation, are subject to selection and can be regarded as living structures, he says, "not just metaphorically but technically," because new information changes our brains. They are often made deliberately--think catchphrases, slogans, melodies--and makers may try to propagate them as fast and far as possible, or make them go viral. The myth of the "Harlem Shake" is that its viral spread was spontaneous, not directed by financial interests--a pop culture, popular uprising. Here's how the meme and the myth began.


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Stupidity: What makes people do dumb things - life - 01 April 2013 - New Scientist

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Alternatively, the variation in our intelligence may have arisen from a process called "genetic drift", after human civilisation eased the challenges driving the evolution of our brains. Gerald Crabtree at Stanford University in California is one of the leading proponents of this idea. He points out that our intelligence depends on around 2000 to 5000 constantly mutating genes. In the distant past, people whose mutations had slowed their intellect would not have survived to pass on their genes; but Crabtree suggests that as human societies became more collaborative, slower thinkers were able to piggyback on the success of those with higher intellect. In fact, he says, someone plucked from 1000 BC and placed in modern society, would be "among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions"

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McKenna, Abraham, Sheldrake - The Evolutionary Mind (1/3)

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake - "The Evolutionary Mind" 1998
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NOVA | Becoming Human

Support PBS! Blu-ray for this show is here: http://bit.ly/It428j Or donate: http://www.pbs.org/about/support-our-mission/ Part 1 --------- Where did we come ...
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"Last Human Standing" examines why "we" survived while those other ancestral cousins died out. And it explores the provocative question: In what ways are we still evolving today?

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The Long Earth: Multiverse Physics

The Long Earth: Multiverse Physics | cognition | Scoop.it
Philosopher of physics David Wallace guides us the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and the mind-bending claims it makes about our reality.
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The Science and the Science fiction.

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Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival

Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival | cognition | Scoop.it
The event was conceived as a response to the efforts of the Templeton Foundation to reconcile science with religion, according to its underwriter Robert Ze
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Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin | The New York Review of Books

Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin | The New York Review of Books | cognition | Scoop.it
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The new religious wars are now really culture wars. They are not just about scientific history—about what best accounts for the development of the human species, for instance—but more fundamentally about the meaning of human life and what living well means.

As we shall see, logic requires a separation between the scientific and value parts of orthodox godly religion. When we separate these properly we discover that they are fully independent: the value part does not depend—cannot depend—on any god’s existence or history. If we accept this, then we formidably shrink both the size and the importance of the wars. They would no longer be culture wars. This ambition is utopian: violent and nonviolent religious wars reflect hatreds deeper than philosophy can address. But a little philosophy might help.

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Julian Jaynes and the Bicameral Mind Theory

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Dustin Eirdosh Interviews the founder of the Julian Jaynes Society Marcel Kuijsten.

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