Author Archives: SelfAwarePatterns

The prospects for a scientific understanding of consciousness

Michael Shermer has an article up at Scientific American asking if science will ever understand consciousness, free will, or God. I contend that not only consciousness but also free will and God are mysterian problems—not because we are not yet … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , , , , | 190 Comments

Recommendation: Children of Time

The Fermi Paradox is the observation that if intelligent life is pervasive in the universe, it should have arrived on Earth ages ago, but there is no evidence it ever did.  The solutions to the paradox include the possibilities that … Continue reading

Posted in Science Fiction | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

The soul of the Roman Empire

According to tradition, in the early days of ancient Rome, King Numa Pompilius established a religious institution: the Vestal Virgins.  The Vestal Virgins were chaste priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth.  Their duty was to maintain the … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , | 41 Comments

Altered Carbon

Several years ago, I read Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels about a future where people’s minds are recorded in a device (called a “stack”) implanted just below the brain stem, essentially providing a form of mind uploading, and allowing people … Continue reading

Posted in Science Fiction | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

What is knowledge?

In the discussion on the last post on measurement, the definition of knowledge came up a few times.  That’s dredged up long standing thoughts I have about knowledge, which I’ve discussed with some of you before, but that I don’t … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , | 67 Comments

Are there things that are knowable but not measurable?

It’s a mantra for many scientists, not to mention many business managers, that if you can’t measure it, it’s not real.  On the other hand, I’ve been told by a lot of people, mostly non-scientists, and occasionally humanistic scholars including philosophers, … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , | 93 Comments

Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor? Is that a relevant question?

A while back, Julia Galef on Rationally Speaking interviewed Eric Jonas, one of the authors of a study that attempted to use neuroscience techniques on a simple computer processor. The field of neuroscience has been collecting more and more data, … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments