EDGE Annual Question: What Will Change Everything?

16 01 2009

“What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?”


The 2008 question seemed more personal and introspective — also the 2007 question, come to think about it — but this new one is unquestionably cosmic:

New tools equal new perceptions.

Through science we create technology and in using our new tools we recreate ourselves. But until very recently in our history, no democratic populace, no legislative body, ever indicated by choice, by vote, how this process should play out.

Nobody ever voted for printing. Nobody ever voted for electricity. Nobody ever voted for radio, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, television. Nobody ever voted for penicillin, antibiotics, the pill. Nobody ever voted for space travel, massively parallel computing, nuclear power, the personal computer, the Internet, email, cell phones, the Web, Google, cloning, sequencing the entire human genome. We are moving towards the redefinition of life, to the edge of creating life itself. While science may or may not be the only news, it is the news that stays news.

And our politicians, our governments? Always years behind, the best they can do is play catch up. . .

—John Brockman
Editor and Publisher

Life on Mars? It’s here. Mastering Death? Yep, along with Interstellar Viruses and Automated Universal Translation. JJ’s own favorite cognitive specialists are here too, of course: Howard Gardner’s answer is “CRACKING OPEN THE LOCKBOX OF TALENT” and Roger Schank writes about (ta-da!) literal power of story, in “Wisdom Unborn”: Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Takes the Witness Stand

16 01 2009


At best, we know more what we don’t know than we did before! So let us hear no more drivel and doggerel about absolute preordained right and wrong, casting “relativism” as mushy values and muddled thought (I’m still grumbling about the last smugly self-satisfied Cartesian who made that claim in discussion, as if her own brain were above our common evolutionary past — Mrs. Somebody or Other over at Spunky’s) and how we humans are able to judge events, ideas and each other based solely on indisputable facts.

The Brain, Your Honor, Will Take the Witness Stand
Researchers Probe How the Mind Determines Crime and Punishment, but the Science Isn’t Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

“What tends to happen with science is that people get starry-eyed about what it can do for the law,” says University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Morse, who sees the potential for misinterpretation. “Then the train leaves the station heading in the wrong direction.”

Know Anybody Going to the Inauguration?

16 01 2009

Power of Story time boys and girls! COD and I were just talking about this.

So do you know anyone going to DC for the historic hoopla, and can you take time to tell us about it? Would you go if you could, and why or why not? What would you most want to see and do there, if you could just magic yourself in?