Edge in the News

Hetek Archívum [1.23.15]

[Translation:] The young stars of the new culture and a very optimistic vision of changing the world.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said: "My goal was never to just create a company ... but that something to do with that creates a very large change in the world ... a social mission, our goal was to make the world a more open place and one that brings people closer together...

 Apple's former leader, Steve Jobs was equally ambitious: "Everyone has the impression that this is a moment which influence the future ... who is quite foolish to think that they can change the world, they should also be changed! "

Larry Page, Google's co-founder, said: "We want to build a technology that everyone will be using, and which will affect everyone ... I'm trying to focus on the results: What will be the future? And how do we do this we will create the future? ... If you just change the world, it is important things you deal with - and why are you going to get up in the morning your bed excitedly ... "Sergey Brin, Google's other founder is thinking as follows:" We want you to Google the human brain third future of work would ... Eventually I want to see the world as a whole communicates knowledge available to our brain would want ... As a man, to see who has created a great change in the world ... "

Stars and Thinkers

The third culture stars are generally inclined to be gnostics or atheist. But who and what are the authoritative thinkers of this new culture?

The term "third culture" originally comes from American writer John Brockman, who, in 1995* presented this set of ideas in his book The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution.  According to Brockman: "The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are."

The book presents the work of 23 scientists and philosophers, who are the central third culture thinkers. In the 1980s and '90s, these thinkers were presented and discussed their views, and Brockman has followed up and created a popular portal (meetings of The Reality Club www.edge.org ), on which the discourse has continued.

"Unlike previous intellectual pursuits, " he writes, the achievements of the third culture are not the marginal disputes of a quarrelsome mandarin class: they will affect the lives of everybody on the planet....  

"Unlike previous intellectual pursuits, the achievements of the third culture are not the marginal disputes of a quarrelsome mandarin class: they will affect the lives of everybody on the planet."—insists Brockman. The formation of the universe, the origin of life , of human consciousness are central issues explored by the third culture intellectuals. Scientific topics include molecular biology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, chaos theory, the strong parallelism, artificial neural networks, the inflationary universe, fractals, biodiversity, nanotechnology, virtual reality, cyberspace, quantum computers, cloning and robotics. … The third-culture thinkers are the new public intellectuals."… [MORE

Original Hungarian language version

[* ED. NOTE: My essay "The Emerging Third Culture", was first published by the Los Angeles Times on November 28. 1991 along with an accompanying profile. The essay is reprinted on Edge as is the entire book, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (1995). The paperback edition of the book (Simon & Schuster) is in print and availabe. (Amazon | B&N).

Alison Gopnik, The Wall Street Journal [1.22.15]


Every January the intellectual impresario and literary agent John Brockman (who represents me, I should disclose) asks a large group of thinkers a single question on his website, edge.org. This year it is: “What do you think about machines that think?” There are lots of interesting answers, ranging from the skeptical to the apocalyptic.

I’m not sure that asking whether machines can think is the right question, though. As someone once said, it’s like asking whether submarines can swim. But we can ask whether machines can learn, and especially, whether they can learn as well as 3-year-olds. ...

Sheizaf Rafaeli, Calcalist [1.22.15]

180 intellectuals responded to this Edge annual question - "What do you think about computers that think?" Soon this question may become an issue for all of us

"What do you think about computers that think?" The question for 2015 on the prestigious Edge.org site. Each year the site gives the same question to more than 180 intellectuals and publishes their answers in one sequence, later published as a thick book. Respondents ranged from columnists in The New York Times, Nobel Prize winners, best-selling authors, and heroes of the technology world, many of them close friends of the site's colorful editor, literary agent John Brockman. Previously published questions: "What scientific concept has to retire?", "What tools will improve everyone's thinking?" and "What should we be worried about? ". This year, as mentioned, Brockman called 180 intellectuals to express an opinion on the question Hawking has been talking about. And Disclosure: I was delighted to receive an invitation to participate this year in most of this dialogue, and my response, ordered to be short - even short of this column - for the annual anthology published.

Several respondents, including the writer Pamela McCorduck, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli, Professor Margaret Levi of Stanford University and the Israel Prize laureate and former president of the Weizmann Institute Haim Harari, refer to machines that think as inevitable, and in large measure daily. Interest in human responsibility and proper management like any other field, and material nightmares. More than the machines thinking like people, I am concerned about people who think like machines, writes Harari.

Others relate to the very dismissive forecast: Vice President for Research of the George Washington University, Neurobiologist, Leo Chalupa doubts machines will be capable of abstract thought. Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling writes that computers may be major players in the future, but the script will never write people. They further emphasize emotion and will remain forever confined to human beings.

David Pescovitz, BoingBoing [1.21.15]

Over at BB pal John Brockman's Edge.org, nearly 200 very smart people, like Daniel C. Dennett, Brian Eno, Alison Gopnik, Nina Jablonski, Peter Norvig, and Rodney Brooks, ponder the EDGE Annual Question of 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

El Mundo [1.18.15]

"Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge." —El Mundo


"What do you think about machines think?" This is the annual question that the digital magazine Edge launches every year around this time, and which it presents to some of the brightest minds on the planet. Just over a month ago, in early December, Stephen Hawking warned of the potentially apocalyptic consequences of artificial intelligence, which in his opinion could eventually lead to "the end of the human species". But really, should we fear the danger of a future army of humanoids out of control? Or rather we should celebrate the extraordinary opportunities that could give us the development of thinking machines, and even sentient beings? Do such beings along with ourselves pose new ethical dilemmas? Would they be part of our "society"? Should we grant them civil rights? Would we feel empathy for them? Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge posed by the editor of Edge, John Brockman. This is just a selection of some of the most interesting responses.

Nick Bostrom, Daniel C. Dennett, Frank Wilczek, Steven Pinker


Süddeutsche Zeitung [1.16.15]


Was denken Sie über Maschinen, die denken?

Nr. 12, Freitag, 16. Januar 2015 

Once a year, the literary agent John Brockman presents a question to scientists on the website edge.org.. This year it's about artificial intelligence. Here is a selection of responses [three parts on Süddeutsche.de online): 

Responses by David Gelernter, Peter Norvig and Douglas Coupland, Alison Gopnik, Brian Eno and Daniel L. Everett, Seth Lloyd, Thomas Metsinger, Susan Blackmore


Part I: David Gelernter, Peter Norvig and Douglas Coupland Jan 16
Part II: Alison Gopnik, Brian Eno and Daniel L. Everett Jan 17
Part III: Seth Lloyd, Thomas Metzinger, Susan Blackmore Jan 18


The Motley Fool [1.6.15]

I read the book This Will Make You Smarter. 

It's an amazing compilation of short essays written by some of the world's most talented scientists, authors, and businessmen, written in a way anyone can understand.

The contributors were asked, "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"

Let me tell you, the book lives up to its title. 

Here are six passages I found especially smart. 

  1. Science is never certain...[more]
  2. Learn from as many disciplines as you can...[more]
  3. Happiness is complicated...[more]
  4. You're nothing special...[more]
  5. But everyone thinks they are...[more]
  6. You can never be too open-minded...[more]
Go buy the book here. It's wonderful.

Ciência Hoje [1.6.15]

During the year just ended, Edge.org put to discussion the question What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Jerry Coyne pointed out in response to the idea of free will: "When pressed, Nearly all scientists and philosophers most admit this. Determinism and materialism, They agree, win the day. But they're remarkably quiet about it. Instead of spreading the important scientific message que our behaviors are the deterministic results of a physical process, they'd rather invent new "compatibilist" versions of free will: versions que comport with determinism. "Well, When We order strawberry ice cream we really Could Not have ordered vanilla, "They Say," but we still have free will in another sense. And it's the sense only that's important. "" * Essayist, core member of Studies of Science, Technology and Society (ICPD). Writes under the new orthographic agreement...

...2014 Edge Annual Question Video by Jesse Dylan from Edge Foundation on Vimeo.

News247 [1.2.15]

...In 1996 Egde.org website was made that was designed to put on a virtual room known scientists and philosophers and to ask each other the questions dangerous ideas-or rather the questions that each strives to respond to science.

Since then every year Egde.org publishes a book with the question of the year. For example this year's question is "What scientific concept is ready for retirement." The 2006 question was "What is your own dangerous idea." Will glean some ideas so dangerous for the good of the year 2015. Let me note that the word does not mean dangerous and necessary bad ideas. It means that we will change our lives. ...

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. ...