Edge in the News: 2014

BoingBoing [12.29.14]

Every year, BB pal, legendary book agent, and Edge.org founder John Brockman asks very smart people like Daniel C. Dennett, David Gelernter, Alison Gopnik, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and Kevin Kelly a big question at the intersection of science and culture. Here's filmmaker Jesse Dylan's impressionistic documentary on last year's Edge Question, "What Scientific Idea Is Ready for Retirement?"

io9.com [12.29.14]

Each year, Edge Foundation founder John Brockman poses an interesting question to thinkers in a wide range of fields: psychology, theoretical physics, evolution, cognitive science, and more. This year's question was "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?" And here are some of the answers.

Jesse Dylan put together this video, featuring answers from Jerry Coyne, Daniel C. Dennett, George Dyson, David Gelernter, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Alison Gopnik, Kevin Kelly, Alex Pentland, Irene Pepperberg, Steven Pinker, Lee Smolin, Paul Steinhardt, and Frank Wilczek. Brockman also collects the answers to his Edge Foundation questions in an annual book. This year's book, This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, will be available in February 2015.

The folks in this video come up with a variety of answers, and they don't all agree, but it's interesting to hear what outdated or misunderstood ideas these individuals want to see retired for the sake of moving forward.

wenhui.news.365.com.cn [12.28.14]

...Innovation does not require a complete break with tradition

Unfortunately, some extreme views tend argument is this: China's innovation performance than most developed countries (right), China has this kind of difference with these countries (right), then these differences will be Our innovative inferior reason (the inference would be too simplistic), so we want to emulate, to throw away our heritage, abandon our language, we bid farewell to Chinese medicine, and so on. ...What a developed country is a complete break with the tradition of his own? Israel is well recognized as an innovative country, but a profound impact on Israel's Jewish cultural tradition, no one negative. Japan is also typical of an innovative country, it is how to treat the traditional? Whether Nara ancient buildings, or kimono, Noh, they are regarded as treasures. Of course, the United States is by far the most powerful and innovative power, while Americans thought the ancient Greek tradition was born and heritage since the academic tradition has been clutching tightly.

We need to emulate, we also need geese are swans, the two had not diametrically opposed relationship. 

Different paths of the same intersection may nurture innovation

We all know that innovation often occurs at the margins. Here may be the edge of the edge, the edge of culture, language, and so interdisciplinary. Promote "third culture" (breaking of cultural differences between science and humanities) American scholar John Brockman created the "edge network" (www.edge.org), it is because the margins realized the importance of innovation .

Ease of different languages ​​on the edge of innovation occur. A language corresponding to a way of thinking, a kind of view, we Chinese people if both mastered Chinese, but also mastered English (or other languages), it is possible to observe from multiple perspectives of the same object, it should be easier to produce spark innovative ideas. In fact, I think there are a number of Chinese scholars in the United States, one of the reasons for the Nobel Prize in science, that is, the piece of soil, they are more able to reflect the marginal advantage ...

Georg Diez, Spiegel Online [12.26.14]

[ED. NOTE: By The Late John Brockman, my first book, was published in hardcover in 1969. A collected works edition including two subsequent works was published in paperback in 1973 under the title Afterwords. In November, HarperCollins issued a new e-book edition in the US and UK, and S. Fischer Verlag published a German translation (Nachworte), which surprisingly, 42 years after first publication, was featured in the "Year in Review in Books" article in the December 26th edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel. The piece was written by the eminent German literary and cultural critic Georg Diez.]

Year in Review 2014 in books

[Translation:] 2014 was an uncertain year, a year of turmoil.

What will this year be in hindsight ?
What do books say about that?
A look back.

...The history of Lucretius is thus in turn the shadow side of the story of Reason in this part of the world, which some necessarily refer to as the West [the Occident, as opposed to the Orient]: His revolution was one of curiosity and knowledge, a kind of humanism, which invented Man free of the laws of power and bound only by the laws of Nature—the anti-thesis to this is a philosophy of Anti-Humanism, which John Brockman describes in his book "Afterwords" [published in English as "By The Late John Brockman"], which originally appeared in the 1970s, now for the first time in its own timelessness in German.

Perspectives between lies, superstitions and narcissism

Because the world, as the then universal thinker and today's Über Networker Brockman sees it, is a world in which reason, truth, freedom, and progress are only illusions of the human mind, which is addicted to meaning, that it likes to produce on its own. They are thoughts that are born of the cybernetic philosophy and envision the governance of machines, meaning the computer and artificial intelligence.

They are not thoughts which want to console, but these are not thoughts either that aim to spread fear. On the contrary: by the way that he thinks about the History of Man in reverse, from its ending, Brockman opens up perspectives which allow a different view of the world between the lies, superstition, the narcissism and the madness/delusion which are part of being human.

Like Lucretius. Like Mbembe. Like Lévi-Strauss. Like Haenel. Because this is what it is all about, otherwise we would not have to read books at all. ...


[German original]

Georg Diez is a writer at Der Spiegel & Spiegel Online; Author of weekly and widely read column "Der Kritiker"; Former Cultural Editor at Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sonntags Zeitung and Die Zeit.

After Brockman: A Symposium (1973) A book of contemporaneous essays by fellow writers on the collected works edition.

"Ever Brockman": An Essay by Hans Ulrich Obrist (2014) The preface to the 2014 edition by the curator of London's Serpentine Gallery.

By The Late John Brockman, HarperCollins, 2014 (Amazon-Kindle edition)

Nachworte, S. Fischer Verlag, 2014 (Amazon.de)

Publishers Weekly [12.19.14]

This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories that Are Blocking Progress
Edited by John Brockman 

Brockman (What Should We Be Worried About?), founder of the Edge Foundation, has compiled a series of humorous and thought-provoking short essays from a wide array of scientists, science writers, and assorted academics. Several essays deal with concepts that aren’t fully understood, even by experts; string theory, for instance, is addressed in several sections, each from a slightly different angle. More philosophical topics receive consideration as well, such as free will, nature vs. nurture, and the difference between the brain and the mind (if there is one). Even economics is included. Some topics, like the lament over the term rocket scientist or the problem with artificial intelligence, are arguments about definitions, while other discussions contemplate the morality of certain practices in science. One fascinating result of having several authors address the same topic is seeing firsthand the ways experts disagree with one another. A common thread throughout is the reminder that science and its practitioners do not exist in a vacuum: those who work in areas that many consider esoteric still fight traffic and worry about what their work will do to make the world better. Brockman succeeds in presenting scientific work that will appeal to a variety of readers, no matter their background. 

The Motley Fool [12.15.14]

Looking for a great book to read over the holidays? Here are 10 good ones about investing, business, andeconomicsthat I read this year.

...This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman. It's a long collection of short (one-page) essays by some of the smartest people in the world who were asked the question, "What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody's Cognitive Toolkit?" You won't put it down. ...

LA NACION [12.14.14]

Industrial Engineer and MBA from Stanford, is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Engineering of the UBA... Of all the Internet's innovations, the possibility of working collaboratively is what stands out the most. Here is a list of some of his favorite examples on the web:


www.economist.com: "To understand what is happening in the world and played a liberal approach.."
www.edge.org: "Conversations to reach the frontier of knowledge Great thinkers telling what keeps them awake at night.."
www.npr.org: "talk radio, with research and interesting stories about business, science, technology."

Booklist [12.1.14]

Brockman, John (Editor)
Feb 2015. 592 p. 

What Should We Be Worried About?One detects no small Edge.org anthology. Each year, Brockman, the founder of the online science salon, poses a provocative question––last time, it was What Should We Be Worried About? (2014)—and invites leading scientists, philosophers, and artists to respond in concise and lucid essays. This time, he really struck a chord, inviting contributors to kill off scientific ideas that are outdated to the point of obstructing new advances. One hundred and seventy-five intellectual assassins eagerly stepped forward. ... Physics, statistics, robotics, linguistics, medicine—all are zestfully scrutinized in this exuberant, mind-blowing gathering of innovative thinkers, which includes even novelist Ian McEwan, who tries to try put the kibosh on the entire murderous exercise, declaring, "Every last serious and systematic speculation about the world deserves to be preserved."

David Pescovitz, BoingBoing [11.19.14]

Over at Edge.org, evidence of HEADCON '14, legendary book agent, cultural impresario, and Boing Boing pal John Brockman's recent gathering of cutting-edge social scientists exploring the social, moral, and emotional brain. There are six hours of video and a massive transcript PDF, all free for your illumination and edification. Think of it as a master class in mind-blowing. ...

Tania Lombrozo, NPR [11.18.14]

In a video released today at Edge.org, psychologist Simone Schnall raises interesting questions about the role of replication in social psychology and about what counts as "admissible evidence" in science.

Schnall comes at the topic from recent experience: One of her studies was selected for a replication attempt by a registered replication project, and the replication failed to find the effect from her original study. ...

In the new video — from a talk she gave to a group of social scientists in September — Schnall considers the different levels of scrutiny received by different researchers and for different findings. She draws on the legal distinction made by Herbert Packer in 1964 — the distinction between "due process" models of law, for which the burden of proof is very high and the focus is on avoiding wrongful convictions, and "crime control" models of law, for which the burden of proof is much lower and the aim is to prevent any perpetrators from slipping through. ...

Blogweekly [11.7.14]

...A: Could you please name a few thinkers that impress you most? What influences do they have on you?

JB: I'm not in a position to talk about individuals I work with today, but I can talk about thinkers I encountered in the 1960s  and 1970s who influenced the way I think today. 

It's all covered in: "Einstein, Gertrude Stein, Wittgenstein, and Frankenstein".  The natural, physical world (Einstein), the world of art and poetry (Gertrude Stein), the limits of language (Wittgenstein), everything else (Frankenstein).

Others: the composer John Cage, cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, video artist Nam June Paik, composer Lamonte Young; poet Wallace Stevens, artists Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol. ...

[Online English Translation]
[Original Chinese Language PDF]

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung [11.3.14]

A spectacle of young creative scene in Berlin: The "State Festival" brought together for the first time, the art and science scene in the capital. Conclusion: An intellectual playground apparently is inspiring.

...The festival theme of "time" it was only the substantive framework, the real motive - the creative clash of cultures - led the festival visitors coming back into the fundamental question: Is the growing complexity of the world and thought perhaps easier to place, tangible, if you the ways of thinking and world views of the two cultures as it accumulated? In other words, progress through encounter and creative communications?

The idea is not new in the book market. The New York literary agent John Brockman (edge.org) has long been a team set up for the third culture is extremely popular science writers who maintain interculturalism in their works themselves and provoke debate....

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?


"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).