Category Archives: Zeitgeist

Rule out plant consciousness for the right reasons

In recent years, there’s been a resurgence in the old romantic sentiment that maybe plants are conscious.  I hadn’t realized that an entire sub-field had formed called Plant Neurobiology, the name itself incorporating a dubious claim that plants have neurons.  … Continue reading

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The ASSC 23 debate on whether artificial intelligence can be conscious

The ASSC (Association of Scientific Study of Consciousness) had its annual conference on consciousness this week, which culminated in a debate on whether AI can be conscious. Note: the event doesn’t actually start until the 28:30 minute mark.  The remaining … Continue reading

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The antecedents of western philosophy

Peter Flegel has an interesting article in Philosophy Now looking at possible connections between ancient Greek philosophy and conceptions explored in the Egyptian New Kingdom period.  Ideas like the four elements and the theory of forms seem to have pretty … Continue reading

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Empirical vs Fundamental IIT and the benefits of instrumentalism

The other day, when discussing a paper that criticized IIT (the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness) as unscientific, I noted that IIT, while questionable as the ultimate answer for consciousness, could be useful in the more limited capacity of distinguishing … Continue reading

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What is it about phenomenal consciousness that’s so mysterious?

I learned something new this week about the online magazine The Conversation.  A number of their articles that are shared around don’t show up in their RSS feeds or site navigation.  It appears these articles only come up in searches, … Continue reading

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Chernobyl and the costs of power

When I first heard of HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl, it didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in watching.  I generally don’t have a fascination for disaster porn and that’s mostly what it seemed like from a distance.  But after numerous … Continue reading

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The sparsity of phenomenal consciousness, or of cognition, or both

Ned Block gave a Google talk (embedded below) that was ostensibly supposed to be about why AI approaches to cognition won’t work.  However, while he does address this topic briefly, it’s toward the end and he admits he hasn’t really … Continue reading

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Is morality objective, yet relative?

Jason Mckenzie Alexander at iai.tv makes an interesting proposition, that morality is a social technology, one that goes out of date and frequently needs to be upgraded. He first describes the common sentiment that morals are objective in some timeless … Continue reading

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Don’t trust your intuitions, they will betray you

A video at Aeon well worth checking out on what wrapping a rope around the Earth reveals about the limits of human intuition: If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of … Continue reading

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Is cosmology in crisis?

In past posts, when I’ve written about the expansion of the universe, I’ve generally referred to the rate of that expansion, the Hubble constant, as being around 70 km/s/megaparsec, that is, for every megaparsec a galaxy is distant from us, … Continue reading

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