Edge in the News

La Nación [10.5.14]

Parallel to the traditional universities, other alternative spaces for creation and dissemination of advanced ideas to meet today's most original minds. Singularity University, Minerva, the TED phenomenon Edge.org and co-working, among others, leverage the power of networks and postulate transdiscipline, technological optimism, the solution of concrete problems and the ability to communicate and "inspire" others. Any new intellectual for a global world?

THINK DIFFERENTLY

"Find the most sophisticated minds, confine them in a room and have them ask each other the questions that everyone is doing itself": the phrase of the artist James Lee Byars is the goal of Edge.org, a great virtual forum created in 1996 by John Brockman, a "cultural entrepreneur" with long experience in science, art and the Internet, where he challenges the brightest minds to think differently. Every year, a question is asked nearly 200 thinkers, scientists and writers from the most diverse fields. Responses are published online and then in a book, of worship for many. This year, the question was: "What scientific idea is ready to retire?", preceded by: "What should concern us?", "How it is changing Internet changing the way we think?" or "What you think even if you can not prove it?", among several.

Business Insider [9.30.14]

If you've been following the same people on Twitter for the last five years, you're probably missing out. An engaging Twitter feed should provide an intersection of interests from thought leaders across fields. 

For that reason, we've gathered 22 intellectual heavyweights in areas like design, neuroscience, management, and economics. Start following them and get your ideas flowing. ...

John Brockman, editor, Edge.org
Handle: @edge

Brockman is on a mission to provide people with "the edge of the world's knowledge," and put out a book, "This Will Make You Smarter." ... Following Brockman is like being a fly on the wall of the intelligentsia, but with less pretension.

Bayerischer Rundfunk [9.23.14]

The literary agent John Brockman gathered in his Internet Salon "Edge" the intellectual elite, the elite, the smartest minds in the world, dealing with the latest developments in the natural and social sciences. They come from genetic engineering, psychology, philosophy, cosmology, and neurology. But the economist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the best-selling author Ian McEwan have already expressed in "Edge". Each year Brockman his community a question. A question that many of the intellectuals have also already asked myself once. In 2005 it was: "What are you believe that you can not prove?" (What do you believe is true even though you can not prove it?).

Animal Politico [9.16.14]

Faced with that voice of science there is an echo of technology in the opposite direction. The American technologist Kevin Kelly said in a conversation with Edge.org, a digital publication of thought inspired by the Invisible College, that "science and technology are intrinsically connected. We feel that science is a method of thinking that generates technology, but I have come to the conclusion that technology is a kind of thinking that generates science."

"The scientific method is not constant. Evolves. Technology has been changing what we call scientific method since its inception. The need for peer review and repeatability of experiments, for example, are thoughts that had to be invented. And to carry out required technologies such as the printing press," says Kelly in that conversation with Edge.org. "A scientist from 400 years ago would not recognize the current method because many of the elements that we consider research essential not been invented until a few years ago. speak placebo, statistical sampling, double-blind experiments ... This is all new. Some even have been invented in the last 50 years. It is very likely that the scientific method change much over the next 50 years than in the first 400 years of its existence."

Scientific American China [9.15.14]

Quantum gravity expert Carlo Rovelli...talk about theoretical physics, philosophy, religion and ethics, and raised concerns about the future direction and expectations of theoretical physics.

Carlo Rovelli said: "Over the past few decades, the field of theoretical physics, and not much progress I think one of the reasons why is that it fall into the wrong philosophical quagmire?"

Penn State Brandywine [9.5.14]

News & Events


Penn State Brandywine Common Read "kickoff" event set for Sept. 11

9/5/2014 —Penn State Brandywine will host its first Common Read event of the academic year—a panel discussion titled, "What Is Brandywine Worried About"—on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 11:30 a.m. in the Vairo Library Amphitheatre. Students, faculty and staff are invited to this thought-provoking dialogue, which mirrors the theme of this year’s Common Read book, "What Should We Be Worried About?"

The event will feature six panelists, including Brandywine faculty, staff and students, who will discuss topics that concern each of them in today's world. Topics will range from educational issues to scientific reasoning and beyond.

"What Should We Be Worried About?," edited by John Brockman, is a collection of short essays revealing the planet’s most hidden threats. The essays are written by some of the world’s most influential scientists who were asked to disclose unknown situations that worry them. The result was a book that changes the way people view biology, economics, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, psychology, war, technology and much more.

The campus Common Read was created to provide an opportunity for the entire Brandywine community to participate in knowledgeable conversation about a shared text, allowing the campus to develop a dialogue focused on one central idea or question.

In the event of inclement weather, the panel discussion will be held in the Tomezsko Building, room 103. For more information about this year’s Common Read selection, visit Penn State Brandywine’s Common Read webpage.

Brain Pickings [7.28.14]

"illuminating, mind-expanding"

How a needle, a shower curtain, and a New England clam explain the possibility of parallel universes.

"The mystery of being is a permanent mystery," John Updike once observed in pondering why the universe exists, and yet of equal permanence is the allure this mystery exerts upon the scientists, philosophers, and artists of any given era. "The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos" collects twenty-one illuminating, mind-expanding meditations on various aspects of that mystery, from multiple dimensions to quantum monkeys to why the universe looks the way it does, by some of the greatest scientific thinkers of our time. It is the fourth installment in an ongoing series by Edge editor John Brockman, following Thinking (2013), Culture (2011), and The Mind (2011). ...

. . .the sole female contributor is none other than Harvard’s Lisa Randall, one of the most influential theoretical physicists of our time, and her essay is the most intensely interesting in the entire collection. . .[Her] essay is a spectacular, mind-bending read in its entirety, as are the rest of the contributions in The Universe (http://edge.org/conversation/the-universe-on-sale-now). Complement it with Brockman’s compendium of leading scientists’ selections of the most elegant theory of how the world works (http://bit.ly/1anPcUX) and the single most important concept to make you smarter (http://bit.ly/1kr7dF1).

Wisconsin Public Radio - To the Best of Our Knowledge [7.18.14]

Many of the biggest ideas in science today were dreamed up in the studios of NY's avant garde artists.  So says John Brockman. He was there. Today, he brings the same  wide-ranging intellectual spirit to his online science salon, Edge.org. | Related Book: The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries and Future of the Cosmos.(John Brockman, editor)

Galileu [7.14.14]

Technological developments, then, is not linear, and you can not wait for the next 20 years we proceed much as in the 20 years that have passed Indeed, the world will be completely different:. Taking into account the projection of Moore and analyzes Kurzweil, who is one of the most respected futurists in the world, in 18 or 20 years the technology will be hundreds of thousands of times more advanced than it is today ( take a look at this chart to understand the size of the thing ). So it is very difficult to predict the paradigms that are broken in this period.

But there are those who are trying - people who even had success in the past in beating about where we technologically today. The PEW , research institute on the internet, talked to experts about the possibilities for the internet in the coming years. The site Edge.org interviewed Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired magazine and one of the most respected analysts on the future of technology. And we searched the vast material collected in these interviews in search of the answer: how different our lives will be in 20 years because of technological change?

Cult of Mac [7.12.14]

The Universe, by John Brockman

Now that Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson is on break, I'm turning to John Brockman to get my fix of easy-to-understand-but-totally-mindblowing science facts. In his latest book, The Universe, Brockman brings together the world's top physicists and science writers to explain the universe in all its wondrous splendor, providing insights on gravity, dark matter, the energy of empty space, and the possibility of a unified theory.

The Guardian [6.27.14]

"The idea is to help readers discern something you know they'd be able to see, if only they were looking in the right place."

What's the secret to writing well? As I've said previously here, an awful lot of people seem to think they know, yet their "rules for writers" are almost always (pardon the technical linguistics jargon) bullshit. For example, "Show, don't tell" is frequently bad advice. In the right context, the passive voice is fine. Elmore Leonard's most famous rule, "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue", is sheer silliness. Even the sainted Orwell's rules are a bit rubbish: the final one is, "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous", which means his advice is really just "Don't write barbarically". So it doesn't bode well that the psychologist Steven Pinker is to publish his own advice book, The Sense Of Style, later this year. Judging by a recent interview at edge.org, however, this one might be different. Writing, Pinker points out, is inherently a psychological phenomenon, "a way that one mind can cause ideas to happen in another mind". So one place to begin is with actual psychology.

The key thing to realise, Pinker argues, is that writing is "cognitively unnatural". For almost all human existence, nobody wrote anything; even after that, for millennia, only a tiny elite did so. And it remains an odd way to communicate. You can't see your readers' facial expressions. They can't ask for clarification. Often, you don't know who they are, or how much they know. How to make up for all this? ... (@oliverburkeman)

 

HABERTURK [6.26.14]

Recently, the much-debated concept of the global level "third culture" (third culture).

In Germany and America many articles written on this subject in the university environment have been seriously debated. With complete peace of mind I can recommend a site —"www.edge.org" where I also read an extremely interesting article I read about it on Tuesday.

"Third culture", in fact, is an answer to the question: "Globalism, how can be truly global in this century?"

Subject to the risk of simplification, I will try to describe the third culture. ....
 

Tania Lombrozo, NPR [6.23.14]

As adults we don't have the advantage of benevolent, parental overlords engineering our environments, but we still have some options. For example, psychologist Laurie Santos and philosopher Tamar Gendler, in a short essay at Edge.org rejecting the idea that "knowing is half the battle," write:

"The lesson of much contemporary research in judgment and decision-making is that knowledge — at least in the form of our consciously accessible representation of a situation — is rarely the central factor controlling our behavior. The real power of online behavioral control comes not from knowledge, but from things like situation selection, habit formation, and emotion regulation. This is a lesson that therapy has taken to heart, but one that 'pure science' continues to neglect."

In other words, we can try to change our own environments to trigger and reinforce the right behaviors, work on making those behaviors routine, and change the way we construe situations — if not the situations themselves — to change the way we feel and the way we act. For instance, construing a toddler's misbehavior as deliberate provocation will likely elicit a different emotional response (and different parental behavior) from construing the same misdeed as the little tyke's exploration of her social world — an experiment in figuring out how you work.

Mother Jones [6.20.14]

How pocket supercomputers warp our perception of time.

I'm kind of a worrier, so naturally I picked up this book called What Should We Be Worried About? Editor John Brockman, the curator of Edge.org, asked a bunch of really smart people—scientists, writers, journalists, tech gurus, folks like that—to write essays about what keeps them up at night. It's that simple.

My wife commented that perhaps this wasn't the sort of book I should be reading, but as a curmudgeon, I had to disagree. It's actually sort of validating to read about all these other people's worries. Plus, the writers keep 'em short—too short, in the case of Terry Gilliam—and the breadth of the worriers clues you in to a wide range of worries you never even knew you needed to worry about. How awesome is that?

-----

THE PATIENCE DEFICIT
By Nicholas G. Carr

I'm concerned about time—the way we're warping it and it's warping us. Human beings, like other animals, seem to have remarkably accurate internal clocks. Take away our wristwatches and our cell phones and we can still make pretty good estimates about time intervals. But that faculty can also be easily distorted. Our perception of time is subjective; it changes with our circumstances and our experiences. When things are happening quickly all around us, delays that would otherwise seem brief begin to seem interminable. Seconds stretch out. Minutes go on forever. "Our sense of time," observed William James in his 1890 masterworkThe Principles of Psychology, "seems subject to the law of contrast." ...

... It's not clear whether a technology-induced loss of patience persists even when we're not using the technology. But I would hypothesize (based on what I see in myself and others) that our sense of time is indeed changing in a lasting way. Digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more antagonistic toward delays of all sorts—and perhaps more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli. Because our experience of time is so important to our experience of life, it strikes me that these kinds of technology-induced changes in our perceptions can have broad consequences.
 

Irish Times [6.19.14]

Stephen Kosslyn once put forward the intriguing notion that God exists but is not supernatural

I recently came across an interesting book called What Is Your Dangerous Idea? (2006), edited by John Brockman. The book is a collection of "dangerous" ideas proposed by 108 of today’s leading thinkers (including physicists Freeman Dyson, Lee Smolin, Paul Davies, Frank Tipler, philosopher Daniel Dennett and biochemist Craig Venter), with a preface by Steven Pinker and an afterword by Richard Dawkins. Today I present you with one fascinating idea from this book, proposed by Stephen M Kosslyn, a professor of psychology at Harvard University. I am neither advocating nor criticising Kosslyn’s proposal – I merely present it as an intriguing idea.

Kosslyn’s dangerous idea is: God exists but is not supernatural; God is part of the natural order. When looked at in this manner, the God concept can be approached scientifically. On the other hand, the orthodox approach, to which I generally subscribe, is to view science and religion as inhabiting two largely “non-overlapping magisteria” (in the words of Stephen Jay Gould). Kosslyn’s idea will please neither the atheist nor the religious.

Kosslyn’s concept of God is of a supreme being that transcends time and space, permeates our world but also stands outside of it, and can intervene in our daily lives, partly in response to prayer.

A scientific approach to this concept rests on three principles. Firstly, emergent properties: this is a well-known phenomenon whereby new properties emerge from aggregates, properties that cannot be fully predicted from the properties of individual aggregate elements. Thus, life emerges from aggregates of biochemicals of particular types in large numbers, mind emerges from neurons in large numbers, and economic and social systems emerge from minds in large numbers. Secondly, downward causality: events at higher levels (where emergent properties arise) can affect events at lower levels, for example an economic depression affects individuals living in society. Thirdly, the ultimate superset: the set of all living things. This superset has emergent properties that feed back to affect the living things that make up the superset.

Business Insider India [6.17.14]

The world is hitting its stride in technological advances and futurists have been making wild-sounding bets on what we'll accomplish in the not-so-distant future. Futurist Ray Kurzweil, for example, believes that by 2040 artificial intelligence will be so good, humans will be fully-immersed in virtual reality and that something called The Singularity, when technology becomes so advanced that it actually changes the human race irreversibly, will occur.

Kevin Kelly, who helped launched Wired in 1993, sat down for an hour-long videointerview with John Brockman at The Edge. Kelly believes that the next 20 years in technology will be radical. So much so, that he believes our technological advances will make the previous 20 years "pale" in comparison.

"If we were sent back with a time machine, even 20 years, and reported to people what we have right now and describe what we were going to get in this device in our pocket-we'd have this free encyclopedia, and we'd have street maps to most of the cities of the world, and we'd have box scores in real time and stock quotes and weather reports, PDFs for every manual in the world...You would simply be declared insane," Kelly said.

Süddeutsche Zeitung [6.16.14]

An Obituary by Gustav Seibt, Franziska Augstein and Andrian Kreye 

. . .  Not a traditional man of culture 

Schirrmacher had a large double talent: he could create new topics and get them out early. He knew—months before others knew it—what would be the language in the Federal Republic. And he was great in terms of the agreement with important people. He wrote his articles rather quickly. In addition, however, he wanted to get involved, to have his fingers everywhere.  He succeeded in both.

Frank Schirrmacher was not just a traditional man of culture, although he had followed in the footsteps of two pillars of post-war cultural life in Germany, namely historian Joachim C. Fest and literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki. He was not only a fierce social critic of the conservative mold, He was not only a great journalist, having launched one of the last newspaper projects to be both successfull and profitable, which is FAZ's weeked edition FAS. He was one of the first "digerati", i.e. one of those 21st century intellectuals on the cusp between the humanities and natural sciences who detect a technology-driven future that opens up new worlds. But because he came from the European tradition of critical thinking, he was largely immune to the seductive euphoria that was blowing from the American shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sure, there seemed to be no limits to be the enthusiasm with which he threw himself into the new themes. Unforgettable was the Features section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungof 27 June 2000, in which the only thing to read on the first six pages were abstract letters of the human genome which were first completely deciphered by the biochemist Craig Venter. The headline read: "Craig Venter's last words."

The persistence with which Schirrmacher presented his themes not only continued, but the illumination from all sides, from all involved and uninvolved, was unique. Just the recent debates about the dangers of digital culture due to the monopolistic tendencies of the Silicon Valley companies, and the global spying programs of the NSA alone, showed the intellectual verve he brought to debates, illuminating the ups and downs which had been kept hidden behind impenetrable techno-jargon and a blind faith in the future. There aren't that many great critical minds in this field so far.

Journalistic Instincts

Schirrmacher not only recognized kindred spirits early, he gave them his full support: David Gelernter, Evgeny Morozov, Constanze Kurz, George Dyson, or this year's recipient of the German book seller's association's prestigious peace prize Jaron Lanier. In the pages of FAZ's Feuilleton he gave them the type of space and the continuous presence normally known only from academic journals. Still he edited them with the journalistic instincts that enabled him and his authors again and again to aquaint Central Europe's educated public life with California thinking.

This side made Frank Schirrmacher also part of the debate on the other side of the Atlantic. You could even encounter him in America much more often than he actually travelled there. You could for example be high above Central Park on the terrace of New York literary agent John Brockman, who is something of a global Weltgeist of science, which Schirrmacher perceived in the very Hegelian way. It happened quite a few tines on occasions like this, that Brockman's cellphone would be ringing, followed by Brockman greeting the caller with a delighted "Frank!", followed by a lengthy phone conversation about the latest in evolutionary biology, behavioural economics or genetic engineering. If Schirrmacher was in hot pursuit of a topic it could happen that the cell would be ringing five, ten times a day, each call greeted by an excited "Frank!" That's when you knew that in this instance the future would arrive in Europe much faster than usual.

It was not only his insatiable curiousity and his almost childlike excitability that helped him in his search for ever new topics. He also had very powerful gift to win people over. When he met the visionary Yale computer scientist David Gelernter during prep for a panel discussion at the DLD conference in Munich in January of 2010, he immediately recognized one of those kindred spirits him.

That's why he didn't leave it at the panel. For two days he more or less didn't leave the American scientist's side. He circled Gelernter's complex thinking first with probing questions, he discovered common thoughts and passions. A bit later he sifted through his enormous body of readily available European knowledge and was able to bring intellectual nuggets to to the table himself. The encounter lead to a transatlantic friendship that enriched the pages of his Feuilleton for years to come. ...

...Protagonist of future debates

Soon it was Frank Schirrmacher not just a participant but the protagonist of debates about the future. In 2009 he published his book "Payback", which became a bestseller, then The Methuselah Conspiracy, his warning of the coming generation gap of an aging society,  and his book MinimumPayback was the first intellectual engagement with the digital culture that appeared in Germany. 

The subtext of his agenda: Why are we forced in the information age to do what we do not want to do, and how do we regain control over our thinking. It was one of the first great intellectual struggles with the dangers of digital technologies that did not come from the digital circles themselves, and thinking not from the strongholds of the computer scientists, but from the tradition of European humanities. It was a sharp reckoning with the zeitgeist that looked something like a promise of salvation in the digital media. And he made himself so at first not only popular. 

"It is very important to emphasize that we are not talking about cultural pessimism," Schirmacher said in an interview with John Brockman, published on edge.org in autumn of 2009. "We're talking about a new technology, which is de facto a brain technology that has to do with intelligence, thus with thinking, and this new technology collides in a very material way with the history of ideas of European thinking.”  However, it was not holy for him. But he saw the danger that arises when one breaks with the gesture of revolution with the story. When idealism becomes ideology.

When John Brockman first learned of Frank Schirrmacher's death, he was not just sad and shocked like many others. Immediately he exclaimed: "This is a loss that will be felt not only in Germany, but all over the world. He is irreplaceable. He managed to make intellectual life in Germany trump that of America because he dared to put issues on the table that no one in America wanted on the agenda". 

After Payback, his next book was Ego: The Game of Life, in which he which analyzed the effects of a Internet-based world economy driven by greed. At the same time presented an ever-sharper critique of capitalism in the once very conservative Feuilleton of the FAZ. On Thursday Frank Schirrmacher died in Frankfurt of a heart attack. . He leaves his wife, an adult son and a small daughter. Not only the man will be missed, but also his many unwritten books, his unguided debates. He was 54 years old. 

[German language original article.]

Dilema (Romania) [6.15.14]

• Edge.org, TIFF Bucureşti, Istorie în culori

Site edge.org a place where the best minds of our times gather. Some conversations last uploaded on the website: psychologist Steven Pinker about "the act of writing in the 21st century", the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist about the "intellectual enzyme" physicists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde about "what's new in the universe." 

The Star Online - Malaysia [6.13.14]

For me, this book functions best as an eye-opener on subjects that we might not have previously thought about.

For example, British academic Dylan Evans worries that the spread and embrace of democracy, which has its own flaws, is preventing us from evolving a better political system.

And computer scientist and physicist W. Daniel Hillis is concerned about the assumptions behind the type of information Internet search engines provide us. With Google incorporating semantics alongside the traditional keyword search, this means that the search engine is now assigning meaning to the words we are searching for. And in a world where one person’s freedom fighter might be another’s terrorist, the worry is that computer programs may now be deciding what words mean for us and providing us information according to that judgement.

In fact, my personal favourite is a two-sentence gem from Monty Python troupe member and British director and screenwriter Terry Gilliam: “I’ve given up on worrying. I merely float on a tsunami of acceptance of anything life throws at me ... and marvel stupidly.”
Recommended for those who want an accessible, intellectual read on a wide range of science-related topics, both popular and more esoteric.

Also, good material for those who might want to impress others in social settings with their “smartness”.

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