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.…
DRAFT 1 — A Work in Progress
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 life actually happens.…
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.…
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 compare the relative cognitive capabilities of artificially intelligent systems, various species of intelligent life on Earth, and perhaps even intelligent lifeforms encountered on other planets.…
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.…
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.
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.…
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.…
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" of neuronal signaling that has been the received view for the last 100 years.…
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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 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 hypnosis.…
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. …
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).”
(This summary includes my argument, a method for judging the outcomeof this bet and some other thoughts on how to measure awareness…)
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.
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.…
I am concerned by what I’m viewing in our national media lately. Viewed from outside (and also from within 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.…
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
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.…
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 they can trade the litter for
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 and the future behind.
A new mathematical technique provides a dramatically better way to
analyze data, such as audio data, radar, sonar, or any other form of
Humans have 200 million light receptors in their eyes,
10 to 20 million receptors devoted to smell, but only 8,000 dedicated
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 songs that last for hours.
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.…
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 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.
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.…
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 even fighter jet
cockpits, for filtering signal from noise and helping to focus
attention on what’s most important at a given time.…