I have a bad habit of buying ebooks and then letting them sit in my Kindle account unread, sometimes for years. I'm sorry to say that the book that was in this state the longest was Linda Nagata's Vast. I picked it up back in 2011 based on Alastair Reynold's glowing recommendation. However, when I … Continue reading Recommendation: Vast
Month: March 2019
Malcolm MacIver on imagination and consciousness
Sean Carroll's latest episode of his podcast, Mindscape, features an interview with neuroscientist Malcom MacIver, one that is well worth checking out for anyone interested in consciousness. Consciousness has many aspects, from experience to wakefulness to self-awareness. One aspect is imagination: our minds can conjure up multiple hypothetical futures to help us decide which choices … Continue reading Malcolm MacIver on imagination and consciousness
Big societies came before big gods
Some years ago I reviewed a book by Ara Norenzayan called Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict. Norenzayan's thesis was that it was a belief in big gods, specifically cosmic gods that cared about human morality, that enabled the creation of large scale human societies. In small societies, reputation serves as an effective … Continue reading Big societies came before big gods
Kurzgesagt on the origin of consciousness
This video by Kurzgesagt is pretty interesting. A word of warning; it's funded by Templeton, which I know will bother some of you, but I found the content to be reasonably solid from a scientific perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6u0VBqNBQ8& The only real issues I might have are the mysterian overtones at the beginning, and the assertion that … Continue reading Kurzgesagt on the origin of consciousness
Is cosmic inflation settled science?
Ethan Siegel at Starts With a Bang has a post up arguing that the multiverse must exist. His reasoning has to do with cosmic inflation. Inflation is the theory that the universe expanded at an exponential rate in the first billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second of the big bang timeline. … Continue reading Is cosmic inflation settled science?
Recommendation: Prador Moon
I've recommended Neal Asher's books before. This one is pretty much cut from the same pattern: superhuman AIs, fearsome aliens, exotic future technologies, and epic space battles covered in detail. In terms of the chronology of his Polity future universe, Prador Moon is the earliest story, although it was written after several other books and … Continue reading Recommendation: Prador Moon
A neuroscience showdown on consciousness?
Apparently the Templeton Foundation is interested in seeing progress on consciousness science, and so is contemplating funding studies to test various theories. The stated idea is to at least winnow the field through “structured adversarial collaborations”. The first two theories proposed to be tested are Global Workspace Theory (GWT) and Integrated Information Theory (IIT). GWT … Continue reading A neuroscience showdown on consciousness?
Last night I did something I rarely do anymore, saw a movie in theater right when it was released: Captain Marvel. As Marvel movies go, it was typical: lots of action, special effects, heart warming moments, and laughs. Marvel / Disney really seems to have the formula for general entertainment down. You don't come out … Continue reading Captain Marvel
Why we’ll know AI is conscious before it will
At Nautilus, Joel Frohlich posits how we'll know when an AI is conscious. He starts off by accepting David Chalmers' concept of a philosophical zombie, but then makes this statement. But I have a slight problem with Chalmers’ zombies. Zombies are supposed to be capable of asking any question about the nature of experience. It’s worth … Continue reading Why we’ll know AI is conscious before it will
The sensorium, the motorium, and the planner
I've been reading Gerhard Roth's The Long Evolution of Brains and Minds. This a technical and, unfortunately, expensive book, not one aimed at general audiences, but it has a lot of interesting concepts. A couple that Roth mentions are the terms "sensorium" and "motorium." The sensorium refers to the sum total of an organism's perceptions, … Continue reading The sensorium, the motorium, and the planner