Edge 227 —November 15, 2007
(1,500 words)

EDGE / TED TALKS
Carolyn Porco, V.S. Ramachandran, Steven Pinker

THE EDGE DINNER 2007
(aka "THE BILLIONAIRES' DINNER"

SERPENTINE GALLERY/EDGE EXPERIMENT MARATHON

IN THE NEWS

DISSIDENT VOICE
Neuroscience and Moral Politics: Chomsky's Intellectual Progeny


Three Talks from the vibrant "TED Talks" website, by Carolyn Porco, V.S. Ramachandran, and Steven Pinker [10.30.07]

FLY ME TO THE MOONS OF SATURN

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco says, "I'm going to take you on a journey." And does she ever. Showing breathtaking images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, she focuses on Saturn's intriguing largest moon, Titan,with deserts, mudflats and puzzling lakes, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice.

CAROLYN PORCO is leader of the Imaging Team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, and Sr. Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. (click for Carolyn Porco's Edge bio)

EdgeLink: "NASA GOES DEEP" By Carolyn Porco


A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOUR MIND

In a wide-ranging talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran explores how brain damage can reveal the connection between the internal structures of the brain and the corresponding functions of the mind. He talks about phantom limb pain, synesthesia (when people hear color or smell sounds), and the Capgras delusion, when brain-damaged people believe their closest friends and family have been replaced with imposters.

V.S. RAMACHANDRAN, M.D., PH.D., is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of Phantoms in the Brain and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness. (click for V.S. Ramachandran's Edge bio)

EdgeLink: "THE NEUROLOGY OF SELF-AWARENESS" By V.S. Ramachandran
(The Edge 10th Anniversary Essay)


A BRIEF HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

In this TED Talk, Steven Pinker takes on violence. We live in violent times, an era of heightened warfare, genocide and senseless crime. Or so we've come to believe. Pinker charts a history of violence from Biblical times through the present, and says modern society has a little less to feel guilty about.

STEVEN PINKER is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of six books, including The Blank Slate and The Stuff Of Thought. (click for Steven Pinker's Edge bio)

EdgeLink: "A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE" By Steven Pinker



The dinner party was a microcosm of a newly dominant sector of American business."Wired

THE EDGE DINNER 2007 (aka "THE BILLIONAIRES' DINNER")
Monterey, California (during the TED Conference) — March 7, 2007


Paola Antonelli, MOMA
Katinka Matson, Edge
Sergey Brin, Google
W. Daniel Hillis, Applied Minds

"This goes beyond all known schmoozing. This is like some kind of virtual-intellectual conspiracy-in-restraint-of-trade." — Bruce Sterling

Matt Greoning, "The Simpsons"
V.S. Ramachandran
Carolyn Porco, Cyclops
Steven Pinker

John Brockman, Edge, Stewart Brand, Long Now Foundation, Kevin Kelly Anne Wojcicki, 23andme
Murray Gell-Mann

Girija Brilliant
Larry Brilliant, Google.org
Marcel Reichart, Burda
Pati Hillis
Tan Sri KT Lim (TSKT), Genting, Malaysia, John Brockman

W. Daniel Hillis, Applied Minds
John Markoff, The New York Times
V.S. Ramachandran, Tom Reilly, Ted, Tony Fadell, Senior VP, iPod Division (iPhone) Apple

"The dinner party was a microcosm of a newly dominant sector of American business." — Wired

Dean Kamen, Deka Research
Larry Page, Google
Steven Levy, Newsweek
Peter Gabriel

Will Wright & Kim Edwards, Spore Murray Gell-Mann
Katinka Matson, Edge
Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Paul Ewald
Rebecca Goldstein
Esther Dyson, EdVentures
Lim Keong Hui, Genting, Malaysia

Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Adam Bly, Seed
Steffy Czerny, Linda Stone, Larry Brilliant, Jeff Bezos, Girija Brilliant

SERPENTINE GALLERY EXPERIMENT MARATHON
Saturday 13 October 12 noon—Sunday 14 October 3 pm, London

On Sunday morning, October 14, Edge participated in a morning of "table-top experiments" as part of the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon in London. This live event was featured along with the Edge/Serpentine collaboration: "What Is Your Formula? Your Equation? Your Algorithm? Formulae For the 21st Century." Photos and commentary from the Serpentine Gallery blog of the event. [All images © 2007 Alistair Fyfe and Robert Murray. Courtesy The Serpentine Gallery.]

Introduction by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson

hans_julia.jpg

"...it has only just begun... There are marathons within marathons... online projects, science projects..., the Laboratorium archive..., table-top experiments..."

John Brockman: Serpentine Gallery and EDGE project. 'What is your formula? Your equation? Your algorithm?'

Seirian Sumner: A cooperative foraging experiment - lessons from ants

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"[The ants] can have up to 8 million workers in a colony... I want you to get in touch with your inner ant."
Seirian Sumner

Timothy Taylor: The Tradescant's Ark Experiment

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"These are the beginnings of the world's technologies and everything that makes you able to sit here today... the technological adventure began with these. These stones are our first knowledge."
Timothy Taylor

Simon Baron-Cohen: Do women have better empathy than men?

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The answer? Check back soon to find out the results of the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon test.

Armand Leroi: The Song of Songs

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"Songs can survive hundreds of years of geographical and cultural separation."
Armand Leroi

Steve Jones: Some Like it Hot

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"Edgar Allen Poe and Lewis Caroll only became famous after stopping working on snails."
Steve Jones

"Two out of three [snails] will die of something determined by genes."
Steve Jones

Neil Turok: What Banged?

turok.jpg

"Cosmology rests on mathematics."
Neil Turok

"The universe is comprehensive: the same laws of physics that apply to this room apply to the universe."
Neil Turok

Lewis Wolpert: How Our Limbs are Patterned Like the French Flag

wolpert.jpg

"Sorry to give you a lesson in embryology, but you should know how you develop."
Lewis Wolpert

"What I'm telling you know is slightly controversial... but the other people are wrong."
Lewis Wolpert

John Baldessari

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"Everybody out there that believes in telekenesis raise my hand."
John Baldessari

Steven Pinker in conversation with Marcy Kahan

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"Overt language is a very efficient way to convert knowledge; the most powerful way to transform a relationship."
Steven Pinker

"We refuse praise in order to be praised twice."
Steven Pinker




DISSIDENT VOICE
October 24, 2007

Neuroscience and Moral Politics: Chomsky’s Intellectual Progeny

Are humans "wired for empathy"? How does this affect what Chomsky calls the "manufacturing of consent"?


By Gary Olson

The nonprofit Edge Foundation recently asked some of the world’s most eminent scientists, “What are you optimistic about? Why?” In response, the prominent neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni cites the proliferating experimental work into the neural mechanisms that reveal how humans are “wired for empathy.”

Iacoboni’s optimism is grounded in his belief that, with the popularization of scientific insights, these recent findings in neuroscience will seep into public awareness and “… this explicit level of understanding our empathic nature will at some point dissolve the massive belief systems that dominate our societies and that threaten to destroy us.” (Iacoboni, 2007, p. 14)

While there are reasons to remain skeptical (see below) about the progressive political implications flowing from this work, a body of impressive empirical evidence reveals that the roots of prosocial behavior, including moral sentiments such as empathy, precede the evolution of culture. This work sustains Noam Chomsky’s visionary writing about a human moral instinct, and his assertion that, while the principles of our moral nature have been poorly understood, “we can hardly doubt their existence or their central role in our intellectual and moral lives.” (Chomsky, 1971, n.p., 1988; 2005, p. 263)

...



PRE-ORDER:

Paperback—UK £8.99, 352 pp
Free Press, UK

November 5, 2007


Paperback — US
$14.95 400 pp
Harper Perennial
November 1, 2007

WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better With an Introduction by Daniel C. Dennett, Edited By John Brockman

"Danger – brilliant minds at work...A brilliant book: exhilarating, hilarious, and chilling." The Evening Standard (London)

Paperback—UK £8.99, 352 pp
Free Press, UK


Paperback — US
$13.95, 336 pp
Harper Perennial

WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA? Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable With an Introduction by STEVEN PINKER and an Afterword by RICHARD DAWKINS Edited By JOHN BROCKMAN

"A selection of the most explosive ideas of our age." Sunday Herald "Provocative" The Independent "Challenging notions put forward by some of the world’s sharpest minds" Sunday Times "A titillating compilation" The Guardian "Reads like an intriguing dinner party conversation among great minds in science" Discover


Edge Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit private operating foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


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