Archives for Philosophy

Is the Universe a Computer? New Evidence Emerges.

I haven’t posted in a while, but this is blog-worthy material. I’ve recently become familiar with the thinking of University of Maryland physicist, James Gates Jr. Dr. Gates is working on a branch of physics called supersymmetry. In the process of his work he’s discovered the presence of what appear to resemble a form of computer code, called error correcting codes, embedded within, or resulting from, the equations of supersymmetry that describe fundamental particles.…

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

The Next Generation of Web Search — Search 3.0

The next generation of Web search is coming sooner than expected. And with it we will see several shifts in the way people search, and the way major search engines provide search functionality to consumers.

Web 1.0, the first decade of the Web (1989 – 1999), was characterized by a distinctly desktop-like search paradigm.…

Nowism — A Theme for the New Era?

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.…

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

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.…

Watch My best Talk: The Global Brain is Coming

I’ve posted a link to a video of my best talk — given at the GRID ’08 Conference in Stockholm this summer. It’s about the growth of collective intelligence and the Semantic Web, and the future and role the media. Read more and get the video here.…

Life in Perpetual Beta: The Film

Melissa Pierce is a filmmaker who is making a film about "Life in Perpetual Beta." It’s about how people who are adapting and reinventing themselves in the moment, and a new philosophy or approach to life. She’s interviewed a number of interesting people, and while I was in Chicago recently, she spoke with me as well.…

A Universal Classification of Intelligence

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.…

Artificial Stupidity: The Next Big Thing

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.…

Virtual Out of Body Experiences

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.

Enriching the Connections of the Web — Making the Web Smarter

Web 3.0 — aka The Semantic Web — is about enriching the connections of the Web. By enriching the connections within the Web, the entire Web may become smarter.

I  believe that collective intelligence primarily comes from connections — this is certainly the case in the brain where the number of connections between neurons far outnumbers the number of neurons; certainly there is more "intelligence" encoded in the brain’s connections than in the neurons alone.…

Web 3.0 — Next-Step for Web?

The Business 2.0 Article on Radar Networks and the Semantic Web just came online. It’s a huge article. In many ways it’s one of the best popular articles written about the Semantic Web in the mainstream press. It also goes into a lot of detail about what Radar Networks is working on.…

Breaking the Collective IQ Barrier — Making Groups Smarter

I’ve been thinking since 1994 about how to get past a fundamental barrier to human social progress, which I call “The Collective IQ Barrier.” Most recently I have been approaching this challenge in the products we are developing at my stealth venture, Radar Networks.…

Scientists Encode Message into Bacterial DNA

Japanese scientists have developed a technique that can encode 100-bit messages into the DNA of common bacteria. The bacteria replicate and pass the message down from generation to generation for at least thousands of years. Because there are millions or more copies of the message it can survive gradual degradation or mutuations (so they claim).…

Intelligence is in the Connections

Google’s Larry Page recently gave a talk to the AAAS about how Google is looking towards a future in which they hope to implement AI on a massive scale. Larry’s idea is that intelligence is a function of massive computation, not of “fancy whiteboard algorithms.” In other words, in his conception the brain doesn’t do anything very sophisticated, it just does a lot of massively parallel number crunching.…

New Simulation Explains Why Extraterrestrial Life Hasn't Found Us Yet

Interesting new study…

It ranks among the most enduring mysteries of the cosmos. Physicists
call it the Fermi paradox after the Italian Nobel laureate Enrico
Fermi, who, in 1950, pointed out the glaring conflict between
predictions that life was elsewhere in the universe – and the
conspicuous lack of aliens who have come to visit.

Must-Know Terms for the 21st Century Intellectual

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

British Ministry of Defense Chief Resigns; Cites Concerns About UFO's

Ok, here’s a very unusual news item:

During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick
Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth
and, more specifically, Britain.

His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.

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


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Is Moral Judgement Hard-Wired Into the Brain?

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.

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

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

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…)


Zooming Out in Time

For an interesting read — download this wonderful presentation on zooming out in time as a way to predict the future. It’s from a talk given at the Long Now Foundation. Nice visual slides illustrate how the world changes over vast timescales.…

Visualizing the Tenth Dimension

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.…

A Proposal to Make the Media (and Society) Better

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.…

What Was Before the Big Bang?

An article in my new favorite magazine, Seed Magazine, by cosmologist Sean Carrol, proposes an interesting new theory about the nature of time and the evolution of baby universes. In this approach, baby universes can suddenly come into being from empty space when random quantum vacuum fluctuations fall into place in just the right way.…

The Hidden Structure of Quantum Mechanics and The Prime Numbers Turns Out to Be 42 After All

This is a wonderful article about how a chance encounter led to the discovery of a connection between physics and number theory that may help explain everything from quantum mechanics to the prime numbers….and the most incredible thing is that the answer may actually really be "42" after all.…

Neurons and Universes

This is a cool pair of images showing a striking similarity between the structure of neurons and that of our universe. I’ve often wondered whether the entire universe isn’t some kind of a mind or a brain in which we are like subatomic particles.…

A Tribe That Views Time Differently

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.

Quantum Evolution — A Radical Theory

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.…

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