Posts Tagged ‘Consciousness’

My Father and Me. A Memoir. For Mayer Spivack (1936 – 2011)

February 14th, 2011

My father, Mayer Spivack, passed away on February 12, 2011, in the Kaplan Family House, a beautiful hospice outside of Boston. He passed away, at the young age of 74, after a difficult year and a half battle with colon cancer. During his illness he never lost his spirit of childlike curiosity, enormous compassion, and […]

Nowism — A Theme for the New Era?

May 22nd, 2009

DRAFT 1 — A Work in Progress Introduction Here’s an idea I’ve been thinking about: it’s a concept for a new philosophy, or perhaps just a name for a grassroots philosophy that seems to be emerging on its own. It’s called “Nowism.” The view that now is what’s most important, because now is where one’s […]

Video: My Talk on the Evolution of the Global Brain at the Singularity Summit

February 13th, 2009

If you are interested in collective intelligence, consciousness, the global brain and the evolution of artificial intelligence and superhuman intelligence, you may want to see my talk at the 2008 Singularity Summit. The videos from the Summit have just come online. (Many thanks to Hrafn Thorisson who worked with me as my research assistant for […]

A Universal Classification of Intelligence

February 5th, 2008

I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not it is possible to formulate a scale of universal cognitive capabilities, such that any intelligent system — whether naturally occurring or synthetic — can be classified according to its cognitive capacity. Such a system would provide us with a normalized scientific basis by which to quantify and […]

Artificial Stupidity: The Next Big Thing

January 24th, 2008

There has been a lot of hype about artificial intelligence over the years. And recently it seems there has been a resurgence in interest in this topic in the media. But artificial intelligence scares me. And frankly, I don’t need it. My human intelligence is quite good, thank you very much. And as far as […]

Virtual Out of Body Experiences

August 25th, 2007

A very cool experiment in virtual reality has shown it is possible to trick the mind into identifying with a virtual body: Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back – a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them. When the researchers stroked […]

Axons Process Information

August 19th, 2007

I just heard about a very interesting new discovery in neuroscience:. The basic gist is that it appears that axons process information. Until now it has been thought that only the cell body of neurons was the part that processed information. Our present understanding of the brain, and also of psychopharmacology, is based completely on […]

Chinese Authorities Make it Illegal to Reincarnate Without a Permit

August 4th, 2007

This just in. The Chinese Government, in their ongoing campaign against the Dalai Lama and Buddhism in Tibet, have announced a new law making it illegal for a Buddha to reincarnate without a state permit. This law is designed effectively to put an end to the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet within one generation. […]

New Findings Overturn our Understanding of How Neurons Communicate

February 27th, 2007

Thanks to Bram for pointing me to this article about how new research indicates that communication in the brain is quite different than we thought. Essentially neurons may release neurotransmitters all along axons, not just within synapses. This may enable new forms of global communication or state changes within the brain, beyond the "circuit model" […]

Must-Know Terms for the 21st Century Intellectual

January 12th, 2007

Read this fun article that lists and defines some of the key concepts that every post-singularity transhumanist meta-intellectual should know! (via Kurzweil)

Minding The Planet — The Meaning and Future of the Semantic Web

November 6th, 2006

NOTES Master Copy can be found at this URL or Last Update: Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 10:17AM PST License — This article is distributed under the Creative Commons Deed. If you would like to distribute a version of thisarticle, please link back to from yourversion, thanks. Printable version — Click here to download […]

Is Moral Judgement Hard-Wired Into the Brain?

November 1st, 2006

A Harvard University researcher believes that moral judgement is hard-wired into the brain: The moral grammar now universal among people presumably evolved to its final shape during the hunter-gatherer phase of the human past, before the dispersal from the ancestral homeland in northeast Africa some 50,000 years ago. This may be why events before our […]

Man Doesn't Know Who He Is

October 21st, 2006

This is fascinating. A man is interviewed in this CNN video segment because he doesn’t know who he is and hopes someone watching will recognize him. So strange. Here is further footage from the full story for this man. He was found in Denver with no memory except a few clues that came out under […]

Is There Room for The Soul? – Good Article on Cognitive Science

October 17th, 2006

This is a surprisingly good article on the nature of consciousness — providing a survey of the current state-of-the-art in cognitive science research. It covers the question from a number of perspectives and interviews many of the leading current researchers.

Why Machines Will Never be Conscious

October 17th, 2006

Below is the text of my bet on Long Bets. Go there to vote. “By 2050 no synthetic computer nor machine intelligence will have become truly self-aware (ie. will become conscious).” Spivack’s Argument: (This summary includes my argument, a method for judging the outcomeof this bet and some other thoughts on how to measure awareness…) […]

New Study: TV May Cause Autism

October 16th, 2006

This study is strange. But plausible. Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3. The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California […]

Visualizing the Tenth Dimension

October 12th, 2006

One of my readers commented that they were looking for this really cool flash presentation that I blogged about a while back — it helps you visualize higher-dimensions all the way to 10-dimensions. Check it out! After this your brain will need a rest, and possibly a hard reboot — but worth it. By the […]

A Proposal to Make the Media (and Society) Better

October 3rd, 2006

I am concerned by what I’m viewing in our national media lately. Viewed from outside (and also from wihtin the USA), it would appear that our nation is obsessed with, and plagued by, an increasing spree of horrible crimes and abuses of human rights. Is this really what it is like to live in America, […]

Study: Woman in Coma Able to Respond With Thoughts

September 9th, 2006

Wow… A severely brain-damaged woman in an unresponsive, vegetative state showed clear signs of conscious awareness on brain imaging tests, researchers are reporting today, in a finding that could have far-reaching consequences for how unconscious patients are cared for and diagnosed. In response to commands, the patient’s brain flared with activity, lighting the same language […]

A Possible Cure for Comas – Electrical Stimulation

September 7th, 2006

This article discusses the potential of using electrical stimulation to revive people from comas. It has been shown to work many times, but American doctors are still not paying attention. A small group of doctors is trying to get some buzz around this idea.

Dolphins are Smarter Than We Think

September 6th, 2006

This is an interesting article about recent evidence of deep thinking by dolphins: At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when […]

Virtual World to Test Telepathy

July 19th, 2006

A new test for telepathy harnesses a "completely objective" virtual world.

A Tribe That Views Time Differently

June 13th, 2006

A tribe in South America has been found to have a reverse concept of time from all known cultures: New analysis of the language and gesture of South America’s indigenous Aymara people indicates they have a concept of time opposite to all the world’s studied cultures — so that the past is ahead of them […]

Breakthrough in Finding Patterns in Complex Data Such as Sound

June 9th, 2006

A new mathematical technique provides a dramatically better way to analyze data, such as audio data, radar, sonar, or any other form of time-frequency data. Humans have 200 million light receptors in their eyes, 10 to 20 million receptors devoted to smell, but only 8,000 dedicated to sound. Yet despite this miniscule number, the auditory […]

Study Discovers Whale Song Syntax

March 30th, 2006

New research into the mathematical properties of whale songs reveals that they have a complex language: The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form […]

Quantum Evolution — A Radical Theory

January 24th, 2006

The theory of quantum evolution is a radical new take on how mutations in DNA occur. Basically the theory postulates that DNA molecules are in fact macroscopic quantum objects that undergo quantum interference. It is spearheaded by Johnjoe McFadden, a professor in the UK and makes for an interesting read. Here is a brief overview […]

Collective Intelligence 2.0

January 24th, 2006

Introduction: This article proposes the creation of a new open, nonprofit service on the Web that will provide something akin to “collective self-awareness” back to the Web. This service is like a “Google Zeitgeist” on steroids, but with a lot more real-time, interactive, participatory data, technology and features init. The goal is to measure and […]

Big Thinkers' Most Dangerous Ideas

January 4th, 2006

The Edge has published mini-essays by 119 "big thinkers" on their "most dangerous ideas" — fun reading. The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about […]

A New Kind of Memory Aid

December 24th, 2005

I recently read a report of new neuroscience research in which researchers are able to predict what a person will recall by analyzing their brainstate. You can read a summary here. This reminds me of an idea I had a while back for using biofeedback to guide brainstates, in order to improve memory. Here’s a […]

Mathematical Model of Surprise

November 29th, 2005

A group of computer scientists have come up with a mathematical technique to detect surprising features in dense information streams. They tested their method by comparing it to what human’s considered surprising, and the results were… surprisingly good! A mathematical model of surprise could be very useful in next-generation information systems, user-interfaces, situation rooms, and […]