Edge in the News: 2013

Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong [1.14.13]

The Edge web-site annual question feature is out today, with this year’s question What *Should* We Be Worried About?. I wrote something about the “Nightmare Scenario” that HEP is facing if the LHC finds a Standard Model Higgs and nothing else. ... Others addressed the same issue, with Lisa Randall writing: "In my specific field of particle physics, everyone is worried. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve been to two conferences within the last week where the future was a major topic of discussion and I’m at another one where it’s on the agenda." ... Amanda Gefter sees no reason to worry. Particle theorists will just move to making progress without experiment, through studying paradoxes of the current theory, with her final example for optimism the recent debate over the “firewall paradox”. ... Carlo Rovelli’s contribution explains one problem with this: humans are very good at convincing themselves they have found some wonderful explanation of something (e.g. some resolution of a paradox, like the supposed SUSY solution to the hierarchy problem), when reality actually involves something quite a bit more subtle and unexpected . . . [58 comments]

Tania Lombrozo, 13.7 COSMOS & CULTURE [1.14.13]

Just when we were patting ourselves on the back for eluding the end of the world and avoiding the fiscal cliff, the folks at The Edge have let loose a flood of new things to worry about. ... Every year Edge.org poses an Annual Question to dozens of scholars, scientists, writers, artists and thinkers. The respondents this year include the reasonably famous, such as Arianna Huffington, Steven Pinker, Brian Eno, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and 13.7's own Stuart Kauffman, as well as the not so famous (like me). ... The 2013 question is: "What should we be worried about?" Respondents were urged to raise worries that aren't already on the public radar, or to dispel those that are....

bigthink.com [1.14.13]

Among the other responses, I noticed a number with the post-rational theme that we ought to worry about the ways we worry—because of the way our minds are organized, these writers think, we can't fret about the right things, even as we wear ourselves into a frazzle about the wrong ones.

For instance, Dan Sperber worries that we generally worry in ways that are futile but wasteful of our limited time and energy.

Another "meta" theme this year is the unexamined consequences of the human race's process of taming itself. For instance, Scott Atran worries that the rich variety of human experience is turning into one homogenized global beige, the way that the planet's rich diversity of edible plants has been crowded out by a few monocultures. And Nicholas Humphrey worries about the ease with which people now access any knowledge they seek.

I was also struck by Alison Gopnik's worry about our misplaced notions of childrearing, which causes people to worry about inconsequential things (which way the stroller faces, which form of "sleep training" to use) while missing the consequential ones (like the fact that so many American children grow up in poverty, thus missing out on the "long, protected, stable childhood" that best serves a developing human being). That one ties together the threads of misplaced anxiety, reliance on technology, and the effects of today's experiences on tomorrow's people. It also is one of those mind-altering posts which causes you wonder "how could I have not seen that?"

All in all, it's a stimulating collection. Well worth a look.

ilsussidiario.net [1.14.13]

A (ambitious) recipe practiced by Brockman since 1996, after a period of contacts, meetings and dialogues with the guru of the "new knowledge", the most advanced frontiers of science, technology, philosophy, when brought together in a virtual room a hundred the likes of Murray Gell-Mann, Freeman Dyson, Martin Rees, Niles Eldredge, Paul Davies, John Barrow, Jared Diamond — to name but a few - asking them the question: "What questions are you asking youirself?".

This led to edge.org and soon the "room" has become an apartment and then a palace from which pass the best brains that Brockman is able to intercept and willingly agree to talk to each other and to the public the content of these dialogues . Cornerstone of the initiative - and that is the common thread of what would otherwise be (and in part) only a juxtaposition of extravagant opinions - are precisely the questions that initial took the form of "annual question," which launches Brockman beginning of each year and that over the months you will find answers, more or less agree, the new intellectuals of the third culture.

Just yesterday, on time in advance via Twitter, has been entrusted to the web application of 2013: "What should we be worried about?", Pointing out that the answers must indicate the "scientific reasons" concerns and confirming our impression that the type and the tone of these questions would be discussed.

Il Sole 24 Ore [1.13.13]

The new knowledge arises from a fair question. This is demonstrated by the experience of Edge, THE INTELLECTUAL PROJECT CREATED BY JOHN BROCKMAN, which has become an extraordinary interdisciplinary community of scientists and scholars who gather each year around a problem formulated in a masterly way by the editors so that always manages to bring to light unexpected ideas. 

The Daily Astorian [1.4.13]

..Also in Edge, Ryan Phelan talks of her work at Revive and Restore – "de-extincting" species, while trying to take all the daunting ethical and technical issues into account.

Note: There is hardly any project more interesting than Edge itself, which has the goals "To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves." Check it out yourself at www.edge.org

Brain Pickings [1.2.13]

#1 THIS WILL MAKE YOU SMARTER ... a formidable anthology of short essays by 151 of our time’s biggest thinkers on subjects as diverse as the power of networks, cognitive humility, the paradoxes of daydreaming, information flow, collective intelligence, and a dizzying, mind-expanding range in between. Together, they construct a powerful toolkit of meta-cognition — a new way to think about thinking itself. ... The true gift of This Will Make You Smarter—of Brockman—is in acting as a potent rupture in the filter bubble of our curiosity, cross-pollinating ideas across a multitude of disciplines to broaden our intellectual comfort zones and, in the process, spark a deeper, richer, more dimensional understanding not only of science, but of life itself.