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 […]
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 […]
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.