Our neocortex is very adept at automation – at habitualizing complex behaviors and routines of thought. Consider: how much of your day is patterned? How much of your thoughts are processes you’ve repeated before? A lot! And this is a good thing: automation frees up our minds for the good life, the life examined, the life of the mind.
In 1562, Don Carlos, the seventeen-year-old heir apparent to the Spanish throne, falls down a flight of stairs. Tragically, he sustains a terrible head wound. His father, King Philip II, orders physicians to attempt every available cure. Nothing works – not the birthwort powder applied to the skull, not the mixture of turpentine and egg […]
A lot of ink and electrons have been spilled on the task of getting our machines to pass the Turing test. It is indeed an accomplishment of some proportion if a computer’s linguistic or artistic output can pass for human-generated. But does a passing grade really mean genuine awareness?
Our stuff is meaningful; it’s symbolically and semiotically imbued with signals of memory, utility, and identity. These meanings are the fabric of culture – shared ideas and values that we acquire as members of society. They exist as thoughts we carry in our skulls, thoughts triggered when we consider or encounter our things. This symbolic […]
We are sentimental creatures. And by this I mean to say that we have the capacity to balance our emotions with our mental facility. From Wiktionary, we learn this about the word sentimental and its origins: “A vogue word mid-18c. with wide application, commonly a thought colored by or proceeding from emotion” (1762). The word sentimental suggests a balance: the human balance.