The Paradox of the Artificial Zen Master:
If we make an artificial Zen master,
And it perfectly reproduces everything
that a real Zen master can say or do,
Is it a Zen master?
No. To be an actual Zen master it would have to be sentient.… Read More “Spiritual Machines are Not Possible”
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.… Read More “My Father and Me. A Memoir. For Mayer Spivack (1936 – 2011)”
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.”… Read More “Nowism — A Theme for the New Era?”
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.… Read More “A Universal Classification of Intelligence”
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.… Read More “Artificial Stupidity: The Next Big Thing”
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.
… Read More “Virtual Out of Body Experiences”
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.… Read More “Axons Process 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.… Read More “Chinese Authorities Make it Illegal to Reincarnate Without a Permit”
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.… Read More “New Findings Overturn our Understanding of How Neurons Communicate”
Read this fun article that lists and defines some of the key concepts that every post-singularity transhumanist meta-intellectual should know! (via Kurzweil)
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.
… Read More “Is Moral Judgement Hard-Wired Into the Brain?”
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.… Read More “Man Doesn't Know Who He Is”
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…)
A.… Read More “Why Machines Will Never be Conscious”
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.
… Read More “New Study: TV May Cause Autism”
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.… Read More “Visualizing the Tenth Dimension”
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.… Read More “A Proposal to Make the Media (and Society) Better”
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
… Read More “Dolphins are Smarter Than We Think”
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.
… Read More “A Tribe That Views Time Differently”
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.
… Read More “Study Discovers Whale Song Syntax”
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.… Read More “Quantum Evolution — A Radical Theory”
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.
… Read More “Big Thinkers' Most Dangerous Ideas”