a new exhibition by Katinka Matson


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Jerry Adler
Alun Anderson
Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson
Mahzarin Banaji
Samuel Barondes
Simon Baron-Cohen
Gregory Benford
David Berreby
Jamshed Bharucha
Roger Bingham
Colin Blakemore
Adam Bly
Susan Blackmore
Vittorio Bo
David Bodanis
Stewart Brand
Rodney Brooks
Andrew Brown
Jason Calacanis
William Calvin
Philip Campbell
Geoffrey Carr
Leo Chalupa
George Church
Andy Clark
Gregory Cochran
M. Csikszentmihalyi
Garniss Curtis
David Dalrymple
Paul Davies
Richard Dawkins
Daniel C. Dennett
Francesco De Pretis
David Deutsch
Keith Devlin
Jared Diamond
Chris DiBona
Cory Doctorow
Esther Dyson
Freeman Dyson
George Dyson
Brian Eno
Juan Enriquez
Nancy Etcoff
Daniel Everett
Helen Fisher
Howard Gardner
Joel Garreau
James Geary
David Gelernter
Neil Gershenfeld
Marcelo Gleiser
Rebecca Goldstein
Daniel Goleman
Beatrice Golomb
Alison Gopnik
Brian Goodwin
John Gottman
Steve Grand
Brian Greene
Jonathan Haidt
Diane Halpern
Haim Harari
Judith Rich Harris
Sam Harris
Marc D. Hauser
Marti Hearst
Roger Highfield
W. Daniel Hiliis
Donald Hoffman
Piet Hut
Gerald Holton
John Horgan
Nicholas Humphrey
Marco Iacoboni
Walter Isaacson
Joichi Ito
Xeni Jardin
Stuart Kauffman
Kevin Kelly
Marcel Kinsbourne
Bart Kosko
Stephen Kosslyn
Kai Krause
Lawrence Krauss
Andrian Kreye
Ray Kurzweil
Jaron Lanier
Leon Lederman
Seth Lloyd
Elizabeth Loftus
Gary Marcus
Pamela McCorduck
Thomas Metzinger
Geoffrey Miller
John McCarthy
Marvin Minsky
David G. Myers
Nathan Myrhvold
Jill Neimark
Randolph M. Nesse
Tor Nørretranders
James O'Donnell
Gloria Origgi
Mark Pagel
Alex Pentland
Irene Pepperberg
David Pescovitz
Jean Pigozzi
Steven Pinker
Ernst Poppel
Jordan Pollack
Corey Powell
Robert Provine
Eduardo Punset
Lisa Randall
Martin Rees
Howard Rheingold
Matt Ridley
Carlo Rovelli
Rudy Rucker
Douglas Rushkoff
Karl Sabbagh
Paul Saffo
Scott Sampson
Robert Sapolsky
Larry Sanger
Roger Schank
Stephen Schneider
Peter Schwartz
Gino Segre
Charles Seife
Terrence Sejnowski
Martin Seligman
Robert Shapiro
Michael Shermer
Clay Shirky
Barry Smith
Lee Smolin
George Smoot
Dan Sperber
Maria Spiropulu
Paul Steinhardt
Linda Stone
Steven Strogatz
Leonard Susskind
Nassim Taleb
Timothy Taylor
Max Tegmark
Robert Trivers
Sherry Turkle
J. Craig Venter
Alexander Vilenkin
Frank Wilczek
Ian Wilmut
Michael Wolff
Anton Zeilinger
Philip Zimbardo



What Is Your Dangerous Idea
Edited by John Brockman
Introduction by Steven Pinker
Afterword by Richard Dawkins

The great world-wide scholars talk about their 'dangerous ideas'.

Most of the contributors appear to have interpreted "dangerous" as meaning something like "subversive," challenging to one or another received orthodoxy.

Meine gefährlichste Idee. Seit nunmehr neun Jahren startet die Stiftung Edge mit einer Umfrage zu einem großen generellen Thema ins neue Jahr.

Crónicas Bárbaras Ciencia racista, atractiva pero muy peligrosa.

(Sydney) Into the minds of the believers. With the aim of gathering ideas from the world's leading thinkers on intellectual, philosophical, artistic and literary issues, US writer John Brockman established The Edge Foundation in 1988.

Royal Society president Martin Rees said the most dangerous idea was public concern that science and technology were running out of control.

Audacious Knowledge. What is a dangerous idea? One not assumed to be false, but possibly true?What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

Seductive power of a hazardous idea. The responses to Brockman's question do not directly engage with each other, but they do worry away at a core set of themes.

Academics see gene cloning perils, untamed global warming and personality-changing drugs as presenting the gravest dangers for the future of civiliztion

Risky ideas; What do scientists currently regard as the most dangerous thoughts?

Be Afraid. canvassed scientists for their "most dangerous idea." David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas, chose "The Evolution of Evil."

The most dangerous idea. Brockman's challenge is noteworthy because his buddies include many of the world's greatest scientists: Freeman Dyson, David Gelertner, J. Craig Venter, Jared Diamond, Brian Greene.

Dangerous Ideas About Modern Life. Free will does not exist. We are not always created equal. Science will never be able to address our deepest concerns.

Genome sequencing pioneer Craig Venter suggests greater understanding of how genes influence characteristics such as personality, intelligence and athletic capability could lead to conflict in society.

The wilder shores of creativity. He asked his roster of thinkers [...] to nominate an idea, not necessarily their own, they consider dangerous not because it is false, but because it might be true.

Fom cloning to predetermination of sex: the answers of invesitgators and philosophers to a question on the online salon Edge.

Who controls humans? God? The genes? Or nevertheless the computer? The on-line forum Edge asked its yearly question — and the answers raised more questions.

La pregunta de l’any. La web penjarà l’1 de gener la pregunta de l’any. La del 2005 va ser resposta per 120 ments de l’anomenada ‘tercera cultura’, que van reflexionar sobre l’enunciat “Què creus que és veritat tot i no poder-ho demostrar?”


The 117 respondents include Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Daniel Dennett, Jared Diamond -- and that's just the D's! As you might expect, the submissions are brilliant and very controversial.

Gene discoveries highlight dangers facing society. Mankind's increasing understanding of the way genes influence behaviour and the issue's potential to cause ethical and moral dilemmas is one of the biggest dangers facing society, according to leading scientists.

Why it can be a very smart move to start life with a Jewish momma: There is one dangerous idea that still trumps them all: the notion that, as Steven Pinker describes it, "groups of people may differ genetically in their average talents and temperaments". For "groups of people", read "races."

The Earth can cope with global warming, schools should be banned and we should learn to love bacteria. These are among the dangerous ideas revealed by a poll of leading thinkers.

Science can be a risky game, as Galileo learned to his cost. Now John Brockman asks over a hundred thinkers, “What is your most dangerous idea?”

"Our brains are constantly subjected to the demands of multi-tasking and a seemingly endless cacophony of information from diverse sources. "

Very complex systems — whether organisms, brains, the biosphere, or the universe itself — were not constructed by design; all have evolved. There is a new set of metaphors to describe ourselves, our minds, the universe, and all of the things we know in it.

John Brockman Blogs Edge's Annual Question on Huff Po


"What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?"


What We Believe but Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty
Edited by John Brockman

Introduction by Ian McEwan

The natural gift of consciousness should be treasured all the more for its transience.

The answers...exert an un- questionable morbid fascination — those are the very ideas that scientists cannot confess in their technical papers.

"Fate largo alle «beautiful minds» di Roberto Casati;;
"La terza cultura di John Brockman" di Armando Massarenti

God (or Not), Physics and, of Course, Love: Scientists Take a Leap: Fourteen scientists ponder everything from string theory to true love.

Space Without Time, Time Without Rest: John Brockman's Question for the Republic of WisdomIt can be more thrilling to start the New Year with a good question than with a good intention. That's what John Brockman is doing for the eight time in a row.
What do you believe to be true, even though you can't prove it? John Brockman asked over a hundred scientists and intellectuals... more» ... Edge  

That's what online magazine The Edge - the World Question Center asked over 120 scientists, futurists, and other interesting minds. Their answers are sometimes short and to the point

Science's Scourge of Believers Declares His Faith in Darwin...
Singolare inchiesta in usa di un sito internet. Ha chiesto ai signori della ricerca di svelare i loro "atti di fede". Sono arrivate le risposte piu' imprevedibili i fantasmi dello scienziato: non ho prove ma ci credo.
To celebrate the new year, online magazine Edge asked some leading thinkers a simple question: What do you believe but cannot prove? Here is a selection of their responses...
Scientists dream too - imagine that
"Fantastically stimulating ...Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question. It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world." — BBC Radio 4
Scientists, increasingly, have become our public intellectuals, to whom we look for explanations and solutions. These may be partial and imperfect, but they are more satisfactory than the alternatives.

Bangladesh—The cynic and the optimist, the agnostic and the believer, the rationalist and the obscurantist, the scientist and the speculative philosopher, the realist and the idealist-all converge on a critical point in their thought process where reasoning loses its power.

Il Sole 24 Ore-Domenica Segnalate le vostre cuioosita, chiederemo riposta alle persone piu autorevoli


"So now, into the breach comes John Brockman, the literary agent and gadfly, whose online scientific salon,, has become one of the most interesting stopping places on the Web. He begins every year by posing a question to his distinguished roster of authors and invited guests. Last year he asked what sort of counsel each would offer George W. Bush as the nation's top science adviser. This time the question is "What's your law?"
"John Brockman, a New York literary agent, writer and impresario of the online salon Edge, figures it is time for more scientists to get in on the whole naming thing...As a New Year's exercise, he asked scores of leading thinkers in the natural and social sciences for "some bit of wisdom, some rule of nature, some law-like pattern, either grand or small, that you've noticed in the universe that might as well be named after you."
"John Brockman has posted an intriguing question on his Edge website. Brockman advises his would-be legislators to stick to the scientific disciplines."
"Everything answers to the rule of law. Nature. Science. Society. All of it obeys a set of codes...It's the thinker's challenge to put words to these unwritten rules. Do so, and he or she may go down in history. Like a Newton or, more recently, a Gordon Moore, who in 1965 coined the most cited theory of the technological age, an observation on how computers grow exponentially cheaper and more powerful... Recently, John Brockman went looking for more laws."


"In 2002, he [Brockman] asked respondents to imagine that they had been nominated as White House science adviser and that President Bush had sought their answer to 'What are the pressing scientific issues for the nation and the world, and what is your advice on how I can begin to deal with them?'Here are excerpts of some of the responses. "
"Edge's combination of political engagement and blue-sky thinking makes stimulating reading for anyone seeking a glimpse into the next decade."
"Dear W: Scientists Offer
President Advice on Policy"
"There are 84 responses, ranging in topic from advanced nanotechnology to the psychology of foreign cultures, and lots of ideas regarding science, technology, politics, and education."


"Brockman's thinkers of the 'Third Culture,' whether they, like Dawkins, study evolutionary biology at Oxford or, like Alan Alda, portray scientists on Broadway, know no taboos. Everything is permitted, and nothing is excluded from this intellectual game."
"The responses are generally written in an engaging, casual style (perhaps encouraged by the medium of e-mail), and are often fascinating and thought - provoking.... These are all wonderful, intelligent questions..."


  "We are interested in ‘thinking smart,'" declares Brockman on the site, "we are not interested in the anesthesiology of ‘wisdom.'"
"INSPIRED ARENA: Edge has been bringing together the world's foremost scientific thinkers since 1998, and the response to September 11 was measured and uplifting."


"Responses to this year's question are deliciously creative... the variety astonishes. Edge continues to launch intellectual skyrockets of stunning brilliance. Nobody in the world is doing what Edge is doing."
"Once a year, John Brockman of New York, a writer and literary agent who represents many scientists, poses a question in his online journal, The Edge, and invites the thousand or so people on his mailing list to answer it."


"Don't assume for a second that Ted Koppel, Charlie Rose and the editorial high command at the New York Times have a handle on all the pressing issues of the day.... a lengthy list of profound, esoteric and outright entertaining responses.


The Geatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years
Edited by John Brockman

"A terrific, thought provoking site."
"The Power of Big Ideas"
"The Nominees for Best Invention Of the Last Two Millennia Are . . ."
"...Thoughtful and often surprising answers ....a fascinating survey of intellectual and creative wonders of the world ..... Reading them reminds me of how wondrous our world is." — Bill Gates, New York Times Syndicated Column


"A site that has raised electronic discourse on the Web to a whole new level.... Genuine learning seems to be going on here."
"To mark the first anniversary of [Edge], Brockman posed a question: 'Simply reading the six million volumes in the Widener Library does not necessarily lead to a complex and subtle mind," he wrote, referring to the Harvard library. "How to avoid the anesthesiology of wisdom?' "
"Home to often lively, sometimes obscure and almost always ambitious discussions."


"Open-minded, free-ranging, intellectually playful unadorned pleasure in curiosity, a collective expression of wonder at the living and inanimate world ... an ongoing and thrilling colloquium."
— Ian McEwan, Author of Saturday

"Astounding reading."

"An unprecedented roster of brilliant minds, the sum of which is nothing short of visionary

"Fantastically stimulating...It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world.... Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question."

"Wonderful reading."

"One of the most interesting stopping places on the Web"

"Brilliant! Stimulating reading."

"Today's visions of science tomorrow."

"Fascinating and thought-provoking ...wonderful, inte-lligent."

" Web site devoted to dis- cussions of cutting edge science."

"Awesome indie newsletter with brilliant contribu-tors."

"Everything is permitted, and nothing is excluded from this intellectual game."

"Websites of the year...Inspired Arena...the world's foremost scientific thinkers."

"High concept all the way...the brightest scientists and thinkers ... heady ... deep and refreshing."

" Deliciously crea-tive...the variety skyrockets of stunning brill-iance. Nobody in the world is doing what Edge is doing."

"A marvellous showcase for the Internet, it comes very highly recom-mended."

"Profound, esoteric and outright enter-taining."

"A terrific, thought provoking site."

"...Thoughtful and often surprising ...reminds me of how wondrous our world is." — Bill Gates

"One of the Net's most prestigious, invitation-only free trade zones for the exchange of potent ideas."

"An enjoyable read."

"A-list: Dorothy Parker's Vicious Circle without the food and alcohol ... a brilliant format."

"Big, deep and ambitous questions... breathtaking in scope."

"Has raised electronic discourse on the Web to a whole new level."

"Lively, sometimes obscure and almost always ambitious."




Edge began the last week in December, 1996 as an email to about fifty people. In 2006, Edge, which celebrates "the third culture", had more than five million individual user sessions.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary we are pleased to present the 2007 Edge Annual Question, as well as "Nine Flowers", a new exhibition by Katinka Matson, Edge's resident artist and its co-founder.

Thanks to all of you in the extended Edge community for your continued interest and support.

Happy New Year!

John Brockman
Publisher & Editor

"Big, deep and ambitious questions....breathtaking in scope. Keep watching The World Question Center."
New Scientist (1998)

The Edge Annual Question — 2007


As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.

What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!

"Fantastically stimulating...It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world.... Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question."
— BBC Radio 4 (2005)


While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in the coming years. That's the bottom line of an outburst of high-powered optimism gathered from the world-class scientists and thinkers who frequent the pages of Edge, in an ongoing conversation among third culture thinkers (i.e., 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.)

I am pleased to present the 2007 Edge Question:

What Are You Optimistic About? Why?

The 160 responses to this year's Edge Question span topics such as string theory, intelligence, population growth, cancer, climate and much much more. Contributing their optimistic visions are a who's who of interesting and important world-class thinkers.

Got optimism? Welcome to the conversation!

Happy New Year!

John Brockman
Publisher & Editor

January 1, 2007


[160 Contributors; 110,000 words] Robert Trivers, Nathan Myrhvold, George Smoot, Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Nancy Etcoff, Stuart Kauffman, Oliver Morton, Bart Kosko, David Buss, Brian Greene, Francesco De Pretis, Corey Powell, Roger Bingham, Alison Gopnik, Robert Sapolsky, Paul Steinhard, Beatrice Golomb, Vittorio Bo, Marcel Kinsbourne, Martin Rees, Ian Wilmut, Barry Smith, Larry Sanger, Steven Strogatz, Mark Pagel, Joichi Ito, Jill Neimark, Leon Lederman, David Deutsch, Frank Wilczek, Cory Doctorow, David Bodanis, Alex (Sandy) Pentland, Marcelo Gleiser, Brian Eno, Philip Zimbardo, Colin Blakemore, W. Daniel Hillis, Garniss Curtis, Mahzarin Banaji, Joel Garreau, Leonard Susskind, Esther Dyson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Stewart Brand, Andy Clark, Steve Grand, Jason Calacanis, Jaron Lanier, Richard Dawkins, Nicholas Humphrey, Chris Anderson, Karl Sabbagh, David Berreby, Stephen Schneider, Timothy Taylor, Gergory Benford, Roger Highfield, Rudy Rucker, David Dalrymple, Paul Davies, Scott Sampson, Sherry Turkle, Gary Marcus, Xeni Jardin, Thomas Metzinger, Helen Fisher, Dan Sperber, Paul Saffo, Gregory Cochran, Michael Wolff, Gloria Origgi, Jamshed Bharucha, Diane Halpern, Anton Zeilinger, Clay Shirky, Neil Gershenfeld, Rodney Brooks, Maria Spiropulu, J. Craig Venter, Marco Iacoboni, Eduardo Punset, Jordan Pollack, Adam Bly, Marti Hearst, Tor Nørretranders, Robert Shapiro, David Pescovitz, Judith Rich Harris, Lee Smolin, Simon Baron-Cohen, Max Tegmark, Elizabeth Loftus, Seth Lloyd, Ernst Poppel, Gino Segre, Philip Campbell, Terrence Sejnowski, Chris DiBona, George Church, Kai Krause, Jonathan Haidt, William Calvin, James Geary, Charles Seife, David Gelernter, Andrian Kreye, Randolph M. Nesse, Freeman Dyson, Lisa Randall, Douglas Rushkoff, Matt Ridley, Ray Kurzweil, Sam Harris, Leo Chalupa, Sue Blackmore, John Horgan, Jared Diamond, Nassim Taleb, Rebecca Goldstein, Geoffrey Miller, Brian Goodwin, Jerry Adler, Linda Stone, George Dyson, Peter Schwartz, Roger Schank, Irene Pepperberg, Alexander Vilenkin, Stephen Kosslyn, Robert Provine, Samuel Barondes, Daniel Everett, John Gottman, Juan Enriquez, Carlo Rovelli, Haim Harari, Kevin Kelly, Jean Pigozzi, Martin Seligman, James O'Donnell, Keith Devlin, Piet Hut, Andrew Brown, Donald Hoffman, Gerald Holton, Howard Rheingold, Pamela McCorduck, Michael Shermer, David G. Myers, Steven Pinker, Marc D. Hauser, Howard Gardner, Alun Anderson, Lawrence Krauss, Chris Anderson, Geoffrey Carr, Daniel Goleman, Walter Isaacson, Daniel C. Dennett

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

Hardcover - UK
£12.99, 352 pp
Free Press, UK

Paperback - US
$13.95, 336 pp
Harper Perennial
(March 1, 2007)

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

"...This collection, mostly written by working scientists, does not represent the antithesis of science. These are not simply the unbuttoned musings of professionals on their day off. The contributions, ranging across many disparate fields, express the spirit of a scientific consciousness at its best — informed guesswork "Ian McEwan, from the Introduction, in The Telegraph

Paperback - US
$13.95, 272 pp
Harper Perennial

Paperback - UK
£7.99 288 pp
Pocket Books

WHAT WE BELIEVE BUT CANNOT PROVE Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty With an Introduction by IAN MCEWAN Edited By JOHN BROCKMAN

"An unprecedented roster of brilliant minds, the sum of which is nothing short of an oracle — a book ro be dog-eared and debated." Seed "Scientific pipedreams at their very best." The Guardian "Makes for some astounding reading." Boston Globe Fantastically stimulating...It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world.... Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question." BBC Radio 4

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reforma, Canberra Times, Journal Les Affaires, Le Monde, The New York Times Magazine, The Independent, The News & Observer, Weekend America, The Guardian, The News & Observer, Reforma, Scientific American, The Guardian, Toronto Star, Los Angeles Times, Central, New Scientist, San Francisco Chronicle, Economic Times-India Times, The Charleston Post-Courier,Wall Street Journal, Seattlelest, Wall Street Journal, Open Source/Chris Lydon, Welt Am Sonntag, Cordis News, Canadian Technology News, The News-Sentinel, The Times (London), The Guardian, The Times (London), Seed, Slashdot, BoingBoing, Arts & Letters Daily, Huffington Post

MUNICH [2/17/07]
[subscription only]

Was läuft hier richtig?
Der neue Optimi

smus der Wissenschaften kommt gerade zur rechten Zeit

Ein nüchterner Blick auf die Geschichte zeigt, dass Optimismus grundsätzlich gerechtfertigt ist. Denn heute ist die Gewalt als bestimmendes Moment der Menschheitsgeschichte auf dem Rückzug. Darauf weist der Psychologe Steven Pinker von der Harvard University im Internetforum hin, in dem er zusammen mit 160 anderen Kollegen und Kolleginnen auf die Frage antwortet, was sie optimistisch mache. Es möge überraschen, so Pinker, aber die Gewalt habe seit Jahrhunderten drastisch abgenommen. Der Völkermord als gängige Form der Konfliktlösung, das Attentat zur Erbfolgeregelung, Exekution und Folter als Strafe, Sklaverei aus Faulheit und Habgier seien heute Seltenheiten und, wo sie aufträten, Gegenstand heftigerKritik. Was lief hier richtig? fragt Pinker, und stellt fest, dass wir wenig zu antworten wissen. Dies läge wohl daran, dass wir immer danach fragten, warum es Krieg gibt, und niemals, wieso der Frieden da ist. ......Fast alle Antworten in der Sammlung, die demnächst als Buch erscheint, sind von solchem Optimismus getragen. Geograph und Biologe Jared Diamond ist optimistisch, weil es in der Wirtschaft manchmal Entscheidungen gibt, die auch für die Menschheit gut sind. Brian Eno ist es, weil die Akzeptanz der Erder-wärmung das größte Versagen des Marktes transparent gemacht habe. J. Craig Venter erwartet eine Revolution der Entscheidungskultur, wenn außerhalb der Wissenschaft ihre jüngsten Methoden übernommen werden. Diese beruhten vor allem auf dem Erkennen irrelevanter Informationen. Die Zukunft ist also kein Überwachungsstaat. Vor allem die Infor ation-stechnologie ist unter den Optimisten im Trend. Auch Afrika, der verlorene Kontinent, erlebt hier einen Boom, der viel verändern wird.

Einzig Nobelpreisträger Frank Wilczek macht Hoffnung, dass es die alles erklärende Theorie, jene Weltformel, die als „Einsteins Traum“ bekannt ist, nie geben wird. Man sollte seine Worte besser wählen, meint der Physiktheoretiker. Er lässt so eine unter seines-gleichen seltene Demut gegenüber der Schöpfung erkennen, deren Gedanke er nicht für die Hoffnung auf ein wissenschaftliches Erlösungsmoment opfern will.

Martin Rees
, dessen Royal Society übrigens einst den Prioritätenstreit zwischen Newton und Leibniz um die Infinitesimalrechnung falsch zu Gunsten des Engländers entschied, äußerte sich auch: Er habe viele Zuschriften bekommen, sein Buch sei noch beschönigend und er selbst ein unverbesserlicher Optimist. Das, schreibt er nun, wolle er bleiben. Dennet gibt zwar zu, an schlechten Tagen den düsteren Szenarien seines Kollegen anhängen zu können. Als größte Gefahr macht er jedoch etwas anderes als der Physiker aus: Die gute alte Überreaktion.


February 19
, 2007

[subscription only]

By Juan Enríquez Cabot

Las tragedias individuales, dice Anderson, venden muchos más periódicos y atraen muchos más televidentes que las tendencias generales

A menudo, después de abrir el periódico, ver las noticias o vivir algún suceso especialmente triste, acaba uno con la idea de que el mundo era mucho mejor antes y que vamos rumbo a la decadencia, soledad, podredumbre y extrema violencia. En algunas partes y épocas efectivamente es así. Pero no lo es en general...Dos amigos míos me recordaron, en escritos de fin de año, que hay mucho que criticar, afrontar, cambiar, pero también hay mucho que celebrar. Chris Anderson escribió sobre el extremo sobrerreportaje que ocurre cuando hay un incidente terrorista, accidente masivo o desastre natural. Esto ocurre porque, en la mayoría del mundo, este tipo de muertes violentas no son lugar común. Hay grandes reportajes precisamente porque son sucesos excepcionales.Las tragedias individuales, dice Anderson, venden muchos más periódicos y atraen muchos más televidentes que las tendencias generales. "Perro ataca inocente infante" es mucho más poderoso que "la pobreza se redujo en un 1 por ciento". Pero aunque la segunda nota es mucho menos atractiva en términos mediáticos significa salvar y mejorar muchas más vidas.

Mucho se ha escrito sobre cómo la red, Google, Yahoo, Skype, You Tube eliminan distancias y reducen el costo de la comunicación, de lograr comunicación y obtener información global a casi cero. El resultado de estar siempre conectados a todas partes a todas horas es que las distancias se reducen y que individuales dramas mundiales entran, cada vez más, a nuestras casas a diario. Podemos enterarnos 24 x 7 sobre incendios, bombas, asaltos, torturas, desapariciones, violaciones y escándalos políticos en cualquiera de los casi 200 países del planeta. Una foto, un testimonial, un videoclip de 15 segundos, nos acercan a más y más dramas individuales. Cada historia nos convence, un poquito más, de que vivimos en mundo cruel, duro y violento...


February 10, 2007

Peering dangerously into a future of ageless codgers

AN IDEA may be dangerous either to its conceiver or to others, including its proponents. Four hundred years ago, heliocentricity was acutely dangerous to Galileo, whom it led before the Holy Inquisition. Two and a half centuries later, Darwin's notions on natural selection and the evolution of species jeopardised the certainties and imperilled the livelihoods of many professional Christians. To this day, the idea that God does not exist is dangerous enough to get atheists murdered in America.

The editor of this anthology of dangerous ideas, John Brockman, is, among other things, the publisher of Edge, the "Third Culture" website ( He has already published What We Believe but Cannot Prove, to which this volume is a companion. Each year, Brockman asks a question of his contributors. Last year's was: "What is your dangerous idea?" He meant not necessarily a new idea, or even one which they had originated, but one which is dangerous "not because it is assumed to be false but because it might be true". This volume, with an introduction by Steven Pinker and an afterword by Richard Dawkins, publishes the responses given in 2006 by 108 of "Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable".

...There is much in many of these brief essays to astonish, to be appalled at, to mull over or to wish for. Some of them suffer from galloping emailographism, that mannerism of the hasty respondent whose elliptical prose can make even the most pregnant idea indigestible. But most of them, from the three-sentence reminder by Nicholas Humphrey of Bertrand Russell's dangerous idea ("That it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true") to the five pages of V.S. Ramachandran on Francis Crick's "Astonishing Hypothesis" (that what we think of as our self is merely the activity of 100 billion bits of jelly, the neurons which constitute the brain), are vitally engaging to anyone with an ounce of interest in matters such as being or whatever

...Mind you, there is one glimpse of the future which rings grotesque enough to be plausible, Gerald Holton's "Projection of the Longevity Curve", in which we see a future matriarch, 200 years old, on her death bed, surrounded by her children aged about 180, her grandchildren of about 150, her great-grandchildren of about 120, their offspring aged in their 90s, and so on for several more generations. A touching picture, as the author says, "But what are the costs involved?"

2 février 2007

L'optimisme boursier actuel est inquiétant
Bernard Mooney , Journal Les Affaires

Le marché boursier se distingue à bien des égards. Ainsi, dans la vie de tous les jours, l'enthousiasme, l'optimisme et la confiance sont des valeurs importantes. Mais à la Bourse, ces belles qualités peuvent devenir des pièges coûteux.

Le paradoxe, c'est que notre monde en général est en manque d'optimisme, alors même qu'il y en a probablement trop dans les marchés financiers.

Le site Web offre un lieu d'échange à un grand nombre de scientifiques, philosophes, penseurs et intellectuels de tous genres. Le consulter est fascinant. La quantité et la qualité des interventions qu'on y trouve sont vraiment exceptionnelles.

Au début de chaque année, John Brockman, éditeur d', pose une question fondamentale à ses participants. En 2006, la question était "Quelle est votre idée dangereuse?"

Cette année, sa question est "À propos de quoi êtes-vous optimiste?" Et des personnalités comme le psychologue Steven Pinker, le philosophe Daniel Dennett, le biologiste Richard Dawkins, le psychologue Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, le biologiste et géographe Jared Diamond, le physicien Freeman Dyson, le psychologue Daniel Goleman et des dizaines d'autres y ont répondu.


08 janvier 2007

"Dans quel domaine êtes-vous optimiste? Et pourquoi?"

C’est la double question posée par John Brockman, éditeur de Edge à plus de 160 “penseurs de la troisième culture, ces savants et autres penseurs du monde empirique qui, par leur travail ou leurs écrits prennent la place des intellectuels traditionnels en rendant visibles les sens profonds de nos vies, en redéfinissant autant qui nous sommes que ce que nous sommes”.

Ça change des unes constamment catastrophiques de nos médias habituels.

Quelques exemples:

Brian Eno estime que la réalité du réchauffement global est de plus en plus acceptée et que cela pourrait donner lieu à un premier cas de gouvernance globale. D’où sa principale source d’optimisme: “le pouvoir croissant des gens. Le monde bouge, communique, se connecte et fusionne en des blocs d’influence qui transfèreront une partie du pouvoir des gouvernements nationaux prisonniers de leurs horizons à court terme dans des groupes plus vaques, plus globaux et plus consensuels. Quelque chose comme une vraie démocratie (et une bonne dose de chaos dans l’intérim) pourrait être à l’horizon”.

Xeni Jardin de BoingBoing, est optimiste après avoir suivi les travaux de la Forensic Anthropology Foundation du Guatemala, un groupe qui se consacre à identifier les morts assassinés par la dictature en s’appuyant sur des logiciels open source, des ordinateurs recyclés et l’aide de laboratoires américains pour l’analyse de l’ADN. “Quant au moins une personne croit que la vérité ça compte, il y a de l’espoir,” conclue-t-elle.


The Way We Live Now

The futures of optimists and pessimists

By Jim Holt

...You might think scientists would be the optimistic exception here. Science, after all, furnishes the model for progress, based as it is on the gradual and irreversible growth of knowledge. At the end of last year,, an influential scientific salon, posed the questions "What are you optimistic about? Why?" to a wide range of thinkers. Some 160 responses have now been posted at the Web site. As you might expect, there is a certain amount of agenda-battling, and more than a whiff of optimism bias. A mathematician is optimistic that we will finally get mathematics education right, a psychiatrist is optimistic that we will find more effective drugs to block pessimism (although he is pessimistic that we will use the, wisely). But when the scientific thinkers look beyond their own specializations to the big picture, they continue to find cause for cheer - foreseeing an end to war, for example, or the simultaneous solution of our global warming and energy problems. The most general grounds for optimism offered by these thinkers, though, is that big-picture pessimism so often proves to be unfounded. The perennial belief that our best days are behind us is, it seems, perennially wrong.

Such reflections may or may not ease our tendency toward global pessimism. But what about our contrary tendency to be optimistic - indeed, excessively so - in our local outlook? Is that something we should, in the interests of cold reason, try to disabuse ourselves of? Optimism bias no doubt causes a good deal of mischief, leading us to underestimate the time and trouble of the projects we undertake. But the mere fact that it is so widespread in our species suggests it might have some adaptive value. perhaps if we calculated our odds in a more cleareyed way, we wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning. ...


21 January 2007

What are you optimistic about?

Global warming, the war on terror and rampant consumerism getting you down? Well, lighten up: here, 17 of the world's smartest scientists and academics share their reasons to be cheerful

Brian Eno, Artist; composer; producer (U2, Talking Heads, Paul Simon); recording artist

Big government

Things change for the better either because something went wrong or because something went right. Recently, we've seen an example of the former, and this failure fills me with optimism. ...

Larry Sanger, Co-founder, Wikipedia


I am optimistic about humanity's coming enlightenment.

In particular, I am optimistic about humanity's prospects for starting exemplary new collaboratively developed knowledge resources. When we hit upon the correct models for collaborative knowledge-collection online, there will be a jaw-dropping, unprecedented, paradigm-shifting explosion in the availability of high-quality free knowledge.

Lord (Martin) Rees, President, The Royal Society; Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics; Master, Trinity College, University of Cambridge; author, 'Our Final Century: The 50/50 Threat to Humanity's Survival'

The energy challenge

A few years ago, I wrote a short book entitled 'Our Final Century'. I guessed that, taking all risks into account, there was only a 50 per cent chance that civilisation would get through to 2100 without a disastrous setback. This seemed to me a far from cheerful conclusion. However, I was surprised by the way my colleagues reacted to the book: many thought a catastrophe was even more likely than I did, and regarded me as an optimist. I stand by this optimism....

Judith Rich Harris, Independent investigator and theoretician; author, 'No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality'


I am optimistic about human relationships - in particular, about friendship. Perhaps you have heard gloomy predictions about friendship: it's dying out, people no longer have friends they can confide in, loneliness is on the rise....

The full-length versions of these pieces (and many more) can be found at, a website founded by John Brockman.'What Is Your Dangerous Idea?', by John Brockman (Editor), is published by Simon & Schuster, £12.99; 'What We Believe But Cannot Prove', by John Brockman (Editor), is published by Pocket Books, £7.99


January 21, 2007
Arts & Entertainment


J. PEDER ZANE, Staff Writer

'What are you optimistic about?" editor John Brockman asked some of the world's leading scientists on his Web site,

As I've yet to complete my unified theory of the universe, he did not include me in his survey. If he had, I'd have answered: Just about everything.

As I reported in last week's column, Brockman's respondents were forward-looking, describing cutting-edge research that will help combat global warming and other looming problems. My optimism is anchored in the past.

By almost any measure -- greater wealth, better health, diminishing levels of violence -- the world is good and getting better. My only regret is that I am alive today because tomorrow will be even brighter.

Where to start with the good news? How about with the Big Kahuna: During the 20th century, life spans for the average American rose from 44 years to 77 as we tamed age-old scourges such as smallpox, malaria, polio and plague.


January 20, 2007

How Doomed Are We?

Edgie's Chris Anderson of TED and Robert Provine of University of Maryland as the proponents of optimism on program concerning Optimism and the Doomsday Clock

January 20, 2007

Tuned in
By Steven Poole

What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, edited by John Brockman (Simon & Schuster, £12.99)

The results of the 2005 Question at, posed by Steven Pinker, are in. Apart from an exasperating section about "memes" (are they still fashionable?) and a few Eeyorish dullards, it's a titillating compilation. Physicist Freeman Dyson predicts that home biotech kits will become common; others posit that democracy may be a blip and "on its way out", that "heroism" is just as banal as evil, and that it will be proven that free will does not exist. There are also far-out but thought-provoking notions: that, given the decadent temptations of virtual reality, the only civilisations of any species that survive to colonise the galaxy will be puritan fundamentalists; or that the internet may already be aware of itself. I particularly enjoyed cognitive scientist Donald D Hoffman's gnomic pronouncement that "a spoon is like a headache", and mathematician Rudy Rucker's robust defence of panpsychism, the idea that "every object has a mind. Stars, hills, chairs, rocks, scraps of paper, flakes of skin, molecules". Careful what you do with this newspaper after you've read it.


January 14, 2006
Arts & Entertainment

Scientists see dazzling future
J. Peder Zane, Staff Writer

Peering into their crystal telescopes, the world's leading scientists see a magnificent future:

* "The use of proteins and other markers [will] permit the early detection and identification of cancer, hugely increasing the prospects of survival."

* "Young adults alive today will, on average, live to 120."

* "Eternal life may come within our reach once we understand enough about how our knowledge and mental processes work ... to duplicate that information -- and then [transfer it] into more robust machines."

* "Someone who is already alive will be the first person to make their permanent home off-Earth."

* "Within a generation ... we will be able to make self-replicating machines that ... absorb energy through solar cells, eat rock and use the energy and minerals to make copies of itself ... [as well as] toasters, refrigerators, and Lamborghinis."

Those are just five of the gee-whiz prognostications offered in response to the 10th Annual Edge Question, posed by John Brockman, editor of the science web site This year, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Freeman Dyson and J. Craig Venter were among the 160 luminaries who in short, clear essays, tackled the question "What are you optimistic about?"

Forcing respondents to set aside the doom-and-gloom mindset that passes for sophistication, Brockman elicited answers that remind us that we are living in a Golden Age of discovery. The biologists, physicists and computer scientists he queried believe that the 20th-century breakthroughs that have enabled us to live longer, healthier and more comfortable lives may be dwarfed by the accomplishments on the near horizon. ...

The overriding hope among Edge respondents is that our increased capacity to gather and analyze information will spark the rise of an "evidence-based" world. We see this already in the field of criminal justice, where people convicted on faulty "eyewitness" testimony have been freed thanks to DNA. In the future, respondents argue, the instincts and perceptions that inform so much of our political, legal and cultural decision-making will be replaced by hard facts.

"We will learn more about the human condition in the next two decades than we did in the last two millennia, and we will then begin to apply what we learn, everywhere," writes Clay Shirky of NYU's Graduate School of Interactive Telecommunications Program. "Evidence-based treaties. Evidence-based teaching. Evidence-based industrial design. Evidence-based parenting."

These are exciting times. Next week I'll write about why I'm optimistic, and I'd love to hear from you. Please phone or e-mail and let me know: What are you optimistic about? ...

January 10, 2007

Andar y Ver / Optimismo de la inteligencia
Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez

El foro virtual Edge propone buscar razones, no simplemente deseos, para el optimismo. Edge es un club que reúne, segén ellos mismos, algunas de las mentes más interesantes del mundo. Su propósito es estimular discusiones en las fronteras del conocimiento. La intención es llegar al borde del conocimiento mundial, acercándose a las mentes más complejas y refinadas, juntarlas en un foro y hacerlos que se pregunten las preguntas que ellos mismos se hacen. La fundación actúa, de este modo, como surtidora de problemas y alojamiento de réplicas. Cada ano se constituye como Centro Mundial de Preguntas. ...

January 8, 2007


Most Hated Digg Comment Proves (Part of) Jaron Lanier's Point about the Cracked Wisdom of Crowds

The affair called to mind a certain meme that I had mentally buried (in the Digg user's sense) but am now forced to revisit with a more open mind. In the November Discover, tech ponderer Jaron Lanier expressed his dismay over the increasing prevalence of "wisdom of crowds" approaches to aggregating information online. See especially Wikipedia and Digg as instances of this phenomenon, also called Web 2.0. Lanier must consider that term itself a masterpiece of framing; he sees a growing glorification of online wisdom-aggregation, and has dubbed the trend Digital Maoism. ...

Anyway, this sort of asymmetrical flamewar doesn't seem to be Lanier's main objection to Digital Maoism. A while back at the, on which big brains convene to butt heads, Lanier's argument was abbreviated thusly:

The problem is [not Wikipedia itself but] in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy.  ...

podcast blog

Science Weekly for January 8
By James Randerson / Science

Welcome in the New Year with the Guardian's science team as they ask what we can be optimistic about in 2007. Thinkers such as the Darwinian philosopher Dan Dennett and psychologist Steven Pinker are looking forward respectively to the end of religion and war in 2007—or at least, the beginning of the end. Hear more predictions from web guru and editor of Edge magazine John Brockman.

January 7, 2007

Call me a cockeyed optimist
God bless those upbeat scientists

Alun Anderson; David Bodanis; Rodney A. Brooks; Adam Bly; Jared Diamond; Esther Dyson; George Dyson; Helen Fisher; Alison Gopnik; Haim Harari; Steven Pinker

OPTIMISM IS almost a dirty word these days. Global warming, the situation in Iraq, poverty, AIDS and other seemingly unsolvable problems can make us feel a bit blue. To our rescue comes John Brockman, from the Edge World Question Center. This year's poser: What are you optimistic about? "While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in the coming years." This is the 10th anniversary of the Annual Question; 160 thinkers weighed in.  ...

January 7, 2007

Opinion: OpEd

Looking through rose-colored microscopes
Why some scientists are optimistic about the future

Richard Dawkins; Max Tegmark; Jonathan Haidt; James O'Donnell; Steven Pinker; Jean Pigozzi; Jared Diamond; J. Craig Venter; Roger Highfield

EVERY YEAR SINCE 1996, the online salon Edge has e-mailed a question to scientists and thinkers about the state of the world. This year's question was: "What are you optimistic about?" Below are excerpts of some of the responses. For full responses (and those of other contributors), go to . ...

Sun, Jan. 07, 2007

Postcards hint of a brighter tomorrow
Walt Mills

...Into my season of gloom, a ray of hope arrived the other day via the Internet, benefit of the Web site called Edge.

As I understand it, Edge is an electronic gathering place for scientists, artists and other creative thinkers. Most of them are out traveling on the far reaches of the high-tech superhighway, sending us their postcards from a few years in the future. ...

Chris Anderson, who is the curator for an intellectual gathering called the TED Conference, makes a similar point. He says that the number of armed conflicts has declined worldwide by 40 percent in the past decade.

If the world seems ever more threatening, it is because we are wired to respond more strongly to threats than we are to good news. Besides, good news such as scientific discovery and economic progress is largely under-reported in the media, while disaster and doom are hugely over-reported.

I was cheered by the optimism of a science writer who thinks that we will soon have a technological breakthrough that will make solar energy dirt cheap long before the big energy crunch arrives. He's not sure which of the many bright ideas he has written about will be the one that works, but he has faith in the scientists who are pushing at the boundaries of the technology. ...

The Edge contributors fanned the flame of optimism in me in the season of darkness.

06 January 2007, page 3

Editorial: Reasons to be cheerful

THE new year is a time for reflection and re-evaluation. It is a process that can leave one feeling up and optimistic or distinctly depressed. If you need some reasons to be cheerful, read on.

The impact of science and technology has been overwhelmingly positive. In a few hundred years life has been transformed from short and brutish to long and civilised. Improvements are spreading (admittedly too slowly) around the planet. Of course, some discoveries and inventions have led to serious problems, but science and technology often provide ways to monitor and alleviate those problems, from ozone destruction to overproduction of greenhouse gases.

And further benefits are coming. To take one example from this issue, researchers have made a drug to treat hepatitis C that should be affordable even in poor countries . Then there is the extent to which cellphones are improving life for the world's poor, the numerous ideas for harnessing energy from sunlight, that human intelligence can be increased and that a revolution in personal genomics is in the wings. These ideas come from, which asked 160 scientists and intellectuals what they are optimistic about. One way or another the answers should give you a warm glow - either because you agree, or because they make you angry.

If you are still left thinking your glass is half empty, check out the submission by Randolph M. Nesse of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He predicts that we will find a way to block pessimism. The consequences may not be all good, but it's a safe bet that science and technology will come to the rescue.

Friday, January 05, 2007
WORLD VIEWS a digest of international news and culture

Seeing the future, now: A world without religion or violence. (Really.)
By Edward M. Gomez

Edge's future-themed article is making some news. Britain's Guardian has summarized some of its contributors' thoughts. ...

...Among many provocative observations in Edge's wide-ranging survey are those of musician, composer and record producer Brian Eno (David Bowie, U2, Talking Heads). Eno writes: "The currency of conservatism...has been that markets are smarter than governments," a notion that "has reinforced the conservative resistance to anything resembling binding international agreements."

However, Eno notes, the "suggestion that global warming represents a failure of the market is therefore important." Will a phenomenon like the warming trend force governments around the world to finally work together in earnest? If they do, and if "a single[,] first instance of global governance proves successful," Eno argues, "it will strengthen its appeal as a way of addressing other problems - such as weapons control, energy management, money-laundering, conflict resolution, people-trafficking, slavery, and poverty. It will become increasingly difficult for countries [like the U.S.] to stay outside of future treaties like Kyoto - partly because of international pressure but increasingly because of pressure from their own populations."

In his Edge contribution, Eno really does sound optimistic. He also writes: "Something like real democracy (and a fair amount of interim chaos) could be on the horizon. The Internet is catalyzing knowledge, innovation and social change,...proving that there are other models of social and cultural evolution[,] that you don't need centralized, top-down control to produce intelligent results. The bottom-up lesson of Darwinism, so difficult for previous generations, comes more naturally to the current generation. There is a real revolution in thinking going on at all cultural levels...." ...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Grandiose notions of great scientists

The assigned purpose of the influential Web magazine, Edge, is lofty enough. It’s to 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.

Recently, Edge asked a group of world class scientists and thinkers its 10th Anniversary Question: “What are you optimistic about and why? Among the respondents were leading American philosopher Daniel C Dennett and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins— both pretty rabid proponents of atheism.

Dennett was of the opinion that within 25 years religion will command little of the awe it instils in people today and their fascination for it will disappear. He said the spread of information through the Internet, television and cell phones will generally and irresistibly undermine the mindsets requisite for religious fervour.

Dawkins maintained that once scientists discover the so-called “theory of everything” it would be the end of the road as far as faith was concerned. “This final scientific enlightenment,” he said, “will deal an overdue death blow to religion and other juvenile superstitions.”

What are we to make of these grand pronouncements? ...

Monday, January 01, 2007


The World Question Center at every year asks scientists, doctors, philosophers and educators a question.

The question for 2006 was "What is your dangerous idea?"

Princeton University professor of astrophysics Piet Hut posted this idea:

"In everyday experience, time flows, and we flow with it. In classical physics, time is frozen as part of a frozen spacetime picture. And there is, as yet, no agreed-upon interpretation of time in quantum mechanics.

"What if a future scientific understanding of time would show all previous pictures to be wrong, and demonstrate that past and future and even the present do not exist? That stories woven around our individual personal history and future are all just wrong? Now that would be a dangerous idea."

We hope we've reassured you, dear reader, that those crow's feet do not really exist. They are just an illusion.

Still, here on Earth, we like to celebrate the passage of time. Like we did last night. That's why our head hurts this morning and we don't have much of an appetite.

January 5, 2007
; Page W11

Without God, Gall Is Permitted

...Thanks in part to the actions of a few jihadists in September 2001, it is believers who stand accused, not freethinkers. Among the prominent atheists who now sermonize to the believers in their midst are Dr. Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett ("Breaking the Spell") and Sam Harris ("The End of Faith" and, more recently, "Letter to a Christian Nation"). There are others, too, like Steven Weinberg, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Brooke Allen (whose "Moral Minority" was a celebration of the skeptical Founders) and a host of commentators appalled by the Intelligent Design movement. The transcript of a recent symposium on the perils of religious thought can be found at a science Web site called

There are many themes to the atheist lament. A common worry is the political and social effect of religious belief. To a lot of atheists, the fate of civilization and of mankind depends on their ability to cool -- or better, simply to ban -- the fevered fancies of the God-intoxicated among us.

Naturally, the atheists focus their peevishness not on Muslim extremists (who advertise their hatred and violent intentions) but on the old-time Christian religion. ("Wisdom dwells with prudence," the Good Book teaches.) They can always haul out the abortion-clinic bomber if they need a boogeyman; and they can always argue as if all faiths are interchangeable: Persuade American Christians to give up their infantile attachment to God and maybe Muslims will too. In any case, they conclude: God is not necessary, God is impossible and God is not permissible if our society -- or even our species -- is to survive. ...

January 4, 2007

Out of Sight, But Not Forgotten

The folks over at, a small corner of the interwebs filled with some of the most surprisingly literary smarty-pants science types, asked their Question of 2007: What are you optimistic about?

Not that we were asked, but Seattlest is optimistic that someone will figure out that whole time-travel business, so we can go back and see James Brown in 1964. We did not see him the two times he performed in Seattle since we moved here (2000 at the EMP opening and again in 2003) and each time we neglected to buy tickets, we thought that despite the fact that it would never compare to JB in '64, we'd regret our inaction someday. And so we do.

Video of either Seattle show is nowhere to be found online, so instead we present to you what we will see in person someday, even if it means we have to scrounge up a battered old DeLorean: ...

January 3, 2007
; Page B10
The Informed Reader


The Glass Is Half Full for Some Scientists


Each year the Edge, a Web site that aims to bridge the gap between scientists and other thinkers, asks a question of major figures associated with the science world. This year's query: "What are you optimistic about? Why?"

Some respondents, such as biologist and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter, said he was hopeful science's empirical, evidence-based methods would be extended "to all aspects of modern society."

But some scientists clearly were hoping to limit expectations. Robert Trivers, a Rutgers University biologist, says the good news is "there is presently no chance that we could extinguish all of life -- the bacterial 'slimosphere' alone extends some 10 miles into the earth -- and as yet we can only make life truly miserable for the vast majority of people, not extinguish human life entirely." Optimism

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

With the new year comes new resolutions, and new questions, including the new question. The science super-hero club house that brought you dangerous ideas in 2006 wants to bring you optimism in 2007.

Extra-Credit Reading

Juan Enriquez, A Knowledge Driven Economy Allows Individuals to Lead Millions Out of Poverty In a Single Generation, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

Steven Pinker, The Decline of Violence, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

Clay Shirky, Evidence, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

Chris DiBona, Widely Available, Constantly Renewing, High Resolution Images of the Earth Will End Conflict and Ecological Devastation As We Know It, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

Paul Steinhardt, Bullish on Cosmology, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

James O’Donnell, Scientific Discoveries Are Surprisingly Durable, The Edge Annual Question 2007, Edge

January 3, 2007

Energiekrise, Armut und Terror - Warum ich für die kommenden Jahre trotzdem optimistisch bin; Von düsteren Prognosen hält Ray Kurzweil wenig. Der renommierte Forscher erwartet, dass die Informationstechnik viele der heutigen Probleme lösen wird
Ray Kurzweil

[I'm Confident About Energy, the Environment, Longevity, and Wealth; I'm Optimistic (But Not Necessarily Confident) Of the Avoidance Of Existential Downsides; And I'm Hopeful (But Not Necessarily Optimistic) About a Repeat Of 9-11 (Or Worse)]

Optimism exists on a continuum in-between confidence and hope. Let me take these in order.

I am confident that the acceleration and expanding purview of information technology will solve the problems with which we are now preoccupied within twenty years.

Ray Kurzweil is inventor and technologist. The shortened contribution appeared on New Years in the Internet magazine Edge ( (, on scientists and their Optimism for the coming year.

January 3, 2007

Gefährlicher Kult um digitale Schwarmintelligenz; Aus internationalen Zeitschriften: Über kollektivistische Niederländer und europäische Selbstbefragung in New York, 25. Dezember Einen der interessantesten theoretischen Artikel über die Internetöffentlichkeit und das Web 2.0 hat im letzten Jahr Jaron Lanier in Edge geschrieben: "Digital Maoism", wo der Autor den Kult der "Schwarmintelligenz" angreift, der sich seiner Meinung nach in Phänomenen wie Wikipedia manifestiert. In einem neuen Artikel für Time, der in Edge dokumentiert ist, greift Lanier seine These noch einmal auf: "Wikipedia hat eine Menge jener Energie aufgesaugt, die vorher in individuelle, eigenständige Websites gesteckt wurde, und gießt sie in eine ein- und gleichförmige Beschreibung der Realität. Ein anderes Phänomen steckt in vielen Blogprogrammen, die die User geradezu dazu einladen, sich unter Pseudonym zu äußern. Das hat zu einer Flut anonymer Unflätigkeiten in den Kommentaren geführt."

January 02, 2007

Scientists optimistic about 2007

... Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the Mediterranean University in Marseilles, France, believes that 'the divide between rational scientific thinking and the rest of our culture is decreasing'. 'In the small world of the academia, the senseless divide between science and the humanities is slowly evaporating. Intellectuals on both sides realize that the complexity of contemporary knowledge cannot be seen unless we look at it all,' he writes.

According to Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc, 'Widely available, constantly renewing, high resolution images of the Earth will end conflict and ecological devastation as we know it.'

Ernst Pöppel, a neuroscientist at Munich University, is optimistic about fighting 'monocausalitis', the tendency to search for one single explanation for a phenomenon or event. 'Biological phenomena can better be understood, if multicausality is accepted as a guiding principle,' he writes.

An eagerly-awaited collider carries Maria Spiropulu's hopes for 2007. Dr Spiropulu is a physicist at CERN. 'Being built under the Jura on the border of Switzerland and France the Large Hadron Collider is a serious reason of optimism for experimental science. It is the first time that the human exploration and technology will offer reproducible 'hand-made' 14 TeV collisions of protons with protons. The physics of such interactions, the analysis of the data from the debris of these collisions [the highest energy such] are to be seen in the coming year,' she writes. ...

January 03, 2007
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Dreamers and thinkers
Leo Morris

...Here is the response of Meagan McArdle, not exactly a religious fundamentalist but probably smarter than the 150 scientists and intellectuals put together:Let me see if I can phrase this in a way that Mr Dennett might understand: if smoking made us live forever, it would be very, very popular. Even if it didn't make you live for ever, but could convince enough people that it might, it would be very, very popular. And anyone who thinks that they have the same caliber of evidence for atheism that we do for the carcinogenicity of tobacco needs to have his ego examined for possibly fatal inflammation.

As I make my way through life and try to sort things out, I need the help of both dreamers and thinkers. I just wish they would keep their missions straight, although the intellectuals lately encroach more into the wishful-thinkers' territory than the artists do into the scientists'. At least I never heard Lennon sing, "Imagine quantum physics, it would make Einstein cry . . ." ...


Identity management for zombies
Time to start recognizing the other layers underneath office stereotypes

by Shane Schick

...It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a resolution for the new year or a new day. The point is to change who you are. It’s not always a case of completely transforming yourself: you just want to be recognized as something other than one of David Berreby’s zombies.

An online forum conducted by recently asked a slew of scientists and intellectuals what they are optimistic about. Berreby, the author Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind, said he was hopeful that the idea of a “zombie identity is coming to an end, or at least being put into greater context. I’ll let Berreby explain the notion of a zombie identity himself.

“(It’s) the intuition that people do things because of their membership in a collective identity or affiliation,” he writes. “It's a fundamental confusion that starts with a perhaps statistically valid idea (if you define your terms well, you can speak of ‘American behaviour’ or ‘Muslim behaviour’ or ‘Italian behaviour’)—and then makes the absurd assumption that all Americans or Muslims or Italians are bound to behave as you expect, by virtue of their membership in the category (a category that, often, you created).” ...

January 2, 2007

Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t
By Dennis Overbye

Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University who has written extensively about free will, said that “when we consider whether free will is an illusion or reality, we are looking into an abyss. What seems to confront us is a plunge into nihilism and despair.”...

A vote in favor of free will comes from some physicists, who say it is a prerequisite for inventing theories and planning experiments.

That is especially true when it comes to quantum mechanics, the strange paradoxical theory that ascribes a microscopic randomness to the foundation of reality. Anton Zeilinger, a quantum physicist at the University of Vienna, said recently that quantum randomness was “not a proof, just a hint, telling us we have free will.” ...

If by free will we mean the ability to choose, even a simple laptop computer has some kind of free will, said Seth Lloyd, an expert on quantum computing and professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Every time you click on an icon, he explained, the computer’s operating system decides how to allocate memory space, based on some deterministic instructions. But, Dr. Lloyd said, “If I ask how long will it take to boot up five minutes from now, the operating system will say ‘I don’t know, wait and see, and I’ll make decisions and let you know.’ ”

Why can’t computers say what they’re going to do? In 1930, the Austrian philosopher Kurt Gödel proved that in any formal system of logic, which includes mathematics and a kind of idealized computer called a Turing machine, there are statements that cannot be proven either true or false. Among them are self-referential statements like the famous paradox stated by the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, who said that all Cretans are liars: if he is telling the truth, then, as a Cretan, he is lying.

One implication is that no system can contain a complete representation of itself, or as Janna Levin, a cosmologist at Barnard College of Columbia University and author of the 2006 novel about Gödel, “A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines,” said: “Gödel says you can’t program intelligence as complex as yourself. But you can let it evolve. A complex machine would still suffer from the illusion of free will.” ...

January 01, 2007

Scientists find reasons to
be cheerful
Mark Henderson,
Science Editor

• 'Jeremiahs' list their great hopes for 2007
• More romance, better old age and better death

Scientists often find themselves accused of pessimism. From the gravity of their public warnings about the dangers of climate change or bird flu, they have earned a reputation as Jeremiahs with a bleak view of human nature and humanity’s future.

It is a charge most researchers contest vigorously: science, they say, is a profoundly optimistic pursuit. The idea that the world can be understood by gathering evidence, to the ultimate benefit of its citizens, lies at its heart. It is not just about problems, but about finding the solutions.

The breadth of this optimism is revealed today by the discussion website — often likened to an online scientific “salon” — which marks every new year by inviting dozens of the world’s best scientific minds to answer a single question. For 2007, it is: “What are you optimistic about?” The answers show that even in the face of such threats as global warming and religious fundamentalism, scientists remain positive about the future.

Monday January 1, 2007

No religion and an end to war: how thinkers see the future
Alok Jha, science correspondent

People's fascination for religion and superstition will disappear within a few decades as television and the internet make it easier to get information, and scientists get closer to discovering a final theory of everything, leading thinkers argue today.

The web magazine Edge ( asked more than 150 scientists and intellectuals: "What are you optimistic about?" Answers included hope for an extended human life span, a bright future for autistic children, and an end to violent conflicts around the world.

Philosopher Daniel Denett believes that within 25 years religion will command little of the awe it seems to instil today. The spread of information through the internet and mobile phones will "gently, irresistibly, undermine the mindsets requisite for religious fanaticism and intolerance".

Biologist Richard Dawkins said that physicists would give religion another problem: a theory of everything that would complete Albert Einstein's dream of unifying the fundamental laws of physics. "This final scientific enlightenment will deal an overdue death blow to religion and other juvenile superstitions." ...

January 01, 2007

Scientists find reasons to
be cheerful
Mark Henderson,
Science Editor

• 'Jeremiahs' list their great hopes for 2007
• More romance, better old age and better death

Scientists often find themselves accused of pessimism. From the gravity of their public warnings about the dangers of climate change or bird flu, they have earned a reputation as Jeremiahs with a bleak view of human nature and humanity’s future.

It is a charge most researchers contest vigorously: science, they say, is a profoundly optimistic pursuit. The idea that the world can be understood by gathering evidence, to the ultimate benefit of its citizens, lies at its heart. It is not just about problems, but about finding the solutions.

The breadth of this optimism is revealed today by the discussion website — often likened to an online scientific “salon” — which marks every new year by inviting dozens of the world’s best scientific minds to answer a single question. For 2007, it is: “What are you optimistic about?” The answers show that even in the face of such threats as global warming and religious fundamentalism, scientists remain positive about the future.


Five issues, insights, and observations shaping our perspective, from the editors of Seed.

1 The Edge Annual Question — 2007
What are you optimistic about? Why? Tons of brilliabnt thinkers respond. Check out our own editor-in-chief's answer here.

What Are You Optimistic About?
Posted by Hemos on Monday January 01, @08:43AM
from the explain-yourself dept.

Monday, January 1, 2007

EDGE Question 2007: What are you optimistic about?
Each year, John Brockman's EDGE asks a single question for the new year, and publishes the responses online. For 2007: ...

Respondents include many whose work has appeared on Boing Boing before, including: J. Craig Venter, Sherry Turkle, Danny Hillis, Jaron Lanier, Rodney Brooks, David Gelernter, Kevin Kelly, Freeman Dyson, George Dyson, Rudy Rucker, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Clay Shirky, Ray Kurzweil, and Clifford Pickover.

Link to index.

Several of us from BoingBoing participated: here's Cory's response ("Copying Is What Bits Are For"), here's Pesco's ("We're Recognizing That the World Is a Wunderkammer"), here's mine (" Truth Prevails. Sometimes, Technology Helps.").

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:49:19 AM


What are you optimistic about? Intellectual impresario John Brockman puts his annual Edge question to leading thinkers... more»

By Romi Lassally

Got Optimism? — The EDGE Annual Question for 2007

Conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse. Yet according to Edge — the heady website for world-class scientists and thinkers, and the brainchild of author and entrepreneurial idea man, John Brockman, there's good news ahead. Each year, through their World Question Center, they pose a provocative query to their high-minded community.



Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

The Evaporation of the Powerful Mystique of Religion

President & CEO, Aspen Institute. Former CEO, CNN, Managing Editor, TIME; Author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

Print As a Technology

Psychologist; Author, Social Intelligence

Transparency is Inevitable

Science Editor, The Economist

Malthus was wrong

Curator, TED Conference

Systemic Flaws In the Reported World View

Physicist, Case Western Reserve University; Author, Atom

Renewal of Science for the Public Good

Senior Consultant (and Former Editor-In-Chief and Publishing Director), New Scientist

The Sunlight-Powered Future

Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Five Minds for the Future

Early Detection of Learning Disabilities or Difficulties

Psychologist and Biologist, Harvard University: Author, Moral Minds

The End of ISMs

Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, The Blank Slate

The Decline of Violence

- PAGE 2 -

Social Psychologist, Hope College (Michigan); Author, A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss

Doubling Hearing Aid Functionality

Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American; Author, Why Darwin Matters

Science and The Decline of Magic

Writer; Author, Machines That Think

Understanding What Really Happens To Humans In Groups

Communications Expert; Author, Smart Mobs

The Tools For Cultural Production and Distribution Are In the Pockets of 14 Year Olds

Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics and Research Professor of History of Science, Harvard University; Author, Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought

The Increasing Coalescence of Scientific Disciplines

Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual Intelligence

We Will Soon Devise a Scientific Theory for the Perennial Mind-Body Problem

Journalist, The Guardian; Author, The Darwin Wars

A Proper Scientific Understanding of Irrationality In General, and of Religion In Particular

Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

The Real Purity of Pure Science

Mathematician; Executive Director, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford; Author, The Millennium Problems

We Will Finally Get Mathematics Education Right

Classicist; Cultural Historian; Provost, Georgetown University; Author, Augustine: A New Biography

Scientific Discoveries Are Surprisingly Durable

- PAGE 3 -

Psychologist, University of Pennsylvania, Author, Authentic Happiness

The First Coming

Collector, Contemporary African Art; High-Tech Ecological Researcher & Director, Liquid Jungle Lab, Panama

Breaking Down the Barriers Between Artists and the Public

Editor-At-Large, Wired; Author, New Rules for the New Economy

That We Will Embrace the Reality of Progress

Physicist, former President, Weizmann Institute of Science

The Evolutionary Ability of Humankind To Do the Right Things

Physicist, Universite' de la Mediterrane' (Marseille, France); Author:
What is time? What is Space?

The Divide Between Rational Scientific Thinking and the Rest of Our Culture Is Decreasing

CEO, Biotechonomy; Founding Director, Harvard Business School's Life Sciences Project; Author, The Untied States of America

A Knowledge Driven Economy Allows Individuals to Lead Millions Out of Poverty In a Single Generation

Psychologist; Founder of Gottman Institute; Author (with Julie Gottman), And Baby Makes Three

When Men Are Involved In the Care of Their Own Infants the Cultures Do Not Make War

Researcher of Pirahã Culture; Chair of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, Illinois State University

Humans Will Learn to Learn From Diversity

Neurobiologist and Psychiatrist, University of California San Francisco; Author, Better Than Prozac

Finding Mental Illness Genes

Psychologist and Neuroscientist, University of Maryland; Author, Laughter

Things Could Always Be Worse

- PAGE 4 -

Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Wet Mind

Human Intelligence Can Be Increased, and Can Be Increased Dramatically

Cosmologist, Tufts University; Author, Many Worlds In One

What Lies Behind Our Cosmic Horizon?

Research Associate, Psychology, Harvard University; Author, The Alex Studies

A Second (and Better) Enlightenment

Psychologist & Computer Scientist; Engines for Education Inc.; Author, Making Minds Less Well Educated than Our Own

The End of the Commoditization of Knowledge

Futurist, Business Strategist; Cofounder. Global Business Network, a Monitor Company; Author, The Long Boom

Growing Older

Science Historian; Author, Project Orion

The Return of Commercial Sail

Former VP, Microsoft & Co-Founder & Director, Microsoft's Virtual Worlds Group/Social Computing Group

Using Technology Toward a Healthier Global Community

Senior Editor, Newsweek; Author High Rise

Sometime In the Twenty-First Century I Will Understand Twentieth-Century Physics

Biologist, Schumacher College, Devon, UK; Author, How The Leopard Changed Its Spots

Our Ability As a Species to Respond To the Challenge Presented By Peak Oil

Evolutionary Psychologist, University of New Mexico; Author, The Mating Mind


- PAGE 5 -

Philosopher, Harvard University; Author, Betraying Spinoza

We Have the Capacity to Understand One Another

Epistemologist of Randomness and Applied Statistician; Author, Fooled By Randomness

The Birth of Stochastic Science

Biologist; Geographer, UCLA; Author, Collapse

Good Choices Sometimes Prevail

Director, the Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of Technology; Author, Rational Mysticism

War Will End

Psychologist and Skeptic; Author, Consciousness: An Introduction

Our Civilisation Will Survive the Coming Climate Catastrophe

Ophthalmologist and Neurobiologist, University of California, Davis

We Will Lead Healthy and Productive Lives Well Past Our Tenth Decade

Neuroscience Researcher; Author, The End of Faith

We Are Making Moral Progress

Inventor and Technologist; Author, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

I'm Confident About Energy, the Environment, Longevity, and Wealth; I'm Optimistic (But Not Necessarily Confident) Of the Avoideance Of Existential Downsides; And I'm Hopeful (But Not Necessarily Optimistic) About a Repeat Of 9-11 (Or Worse)

Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code

The Future

Media Analyst; Documentary Writer; Author, Get Back in the Box : Innovation from the Inside Out

Human Beings Are Different

- PAGE 6 -

Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages

People Will Increasingly Value Truth (Over Truthiness)

Physicist, Institute of Advanced Study, Author, Disturbing the Universe

HAR1 (Human Accelerated Region 1) As a New Tool Leading Us Toward a Deep Understanding of Human Nature

Psychiatrist, University of Michigan; Coauthor, Why We Get Sick

We Will Find New Ways To Block Pessimism

Feuilleton (Arts & Ideas) Editor, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich

We Will Overcome Agnotology (The Cultural Production of Ignorance)

Computer Scientist, Yale University; Chief Scientist, Mirror Worlds Technologies; Author, Drawing Life

The Future of Software

Psychologist, University of Virginia

The Baby Boomers Will Soon Retire

Professor of Journalism, New York University; formerly journalist, Science magazine; Author, Zero: The Biography Of A Dangerous Idea

Pessimistic In Its Optimism

Former Europe editor, Time Magazine; Author, The World in a Phrase

PCT Will Allow People To Take Individual Action to Tackle a Global Problem

Professor, The University of Washington School of Medicine; Author, A Brain For All Seasons

The Climate Optimist

Software and Design Pioneer


- PAGE 7 -

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Director, Center for Computational Genetics

Personal Genomics Will Arrive This Year, and With It a Revolutionary Wave Of Volunteerism and Self-Knowledge

Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc.; Editor, Open Sources: Voices From the Open Source Software Revolution and Open Sources 2.0

Widely Available, Constantly Renewing, High Resolution Images of the Earth Will End Conflict and Ecological Devastation As We Know It

Computational Neuroscientist, Salk Institute, Coauthor, The Computational Brain

A Breakthrough in Understanding Intelligence is around the Corner

Editor-in Chief, Nature

Optimism Needs To Have Bite So That Pioneering Work In Early Cancer Detection Is Championed and Funded

Physicist, University of Pennsylvania; Author: Faust In Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics

The Future Of String Theory

Neuroscientist, Chairman, Board of Directors, Human Science Center and Department of Medical Psychology, Munich University, Germany; Author, Mindworks

"Monocausalitis" — Pestimistic Optimism To Overcome a Common Disease

Quantum Mechanical Engineer, MIT, Author, Programing the Universe

My Stupid, but Not Misguided, Optimism

Psychologist, University of California, Irvine

The Importance Of Innocence

Physicist, MIT; Researcher, Precision Cosmology

We're Not Insignificant After All

Psychologist, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University; Author, The Essential Difference

The Rise of Autism and The Digital Age

- PAGE 8 -

Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, The Trouble With Physics

The Return of the Discipline of Experiment Will Tranform Our Knowledge of Fundamental Physics

Independent Investigator and Theoretician; Author,
No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

The Survival of Friendship

Boing Boing; Research Affiliate, Institute for the Future; Editor-at-Large, MAKE

We're Recognizing That the World Is a Wunderkammer

Professor Emeritus, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Chemistry, New York University; Author, Planetary Dreams

Strangers In Our Midst

Science Writer; Consultant; Lecturer, Copenhagen; Author, The Generous Man


Computer Scientist, UC Berkeley, School of Information

The Rise of Usability

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Seed

Science on the Agenda

Computer Scientist, Brandeis University

AI Will Arise

Scientist; Spanish Television Presenter; Author, The Happiness Trip

We Can No Longer Be Sure Of Anything

Neuroscientist; Director, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab, UCLA

Neuroscience Will Change Society

- PAGE 9 -

Human Genome Decoder; Director, The J. Craig Venter Institute

Evidence-Based Decision Making Will Help Transform Society

Physicist, currently at CERN

The Ever Awaited Super-Collider

Director, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corporation; author Flesh and Machines

The 22nd Century

Physicist, MIT; Author, FAB

The Creation As Well As Consumption of Scientific Knowledge Will Be Potentially Accessible To Anyone

Social & Technology Network Topology Researcher; Adjunct Professor, NYU Graduate School of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)


University of Vienna and Scientific Director, Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Austrian Academy of Sciences

The Future Of Science

Professor, Claremont McKenna College; Past-president, American Psychological Association; Author, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

How Technology Is Saving the World

Professor of Psychology, Provost, Senior Vice President, Tufts University

The Globalization Of Higher Education

Philosopher and Researcher, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique; Author,
Text-E: Text in the Age of the Internet

The Impact Of Multilingualism In Europe

Columnist, Vanity Fair; Author,
Autumn of the Moguls

The Joys Of Failing Enterprises

- PAGE 10-

Consultant, Adaptive Optics; Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, University of Utah

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Technology Forecaster; Consulting Associate Professor, Stanford University

Humankind Is Particularly Good At Muddling

Social and cognitive scientist; Directeur de Recherche, CNRS, Paris; Author,
Rethinking Symbolism

Altruism on the Web

Research Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University; Author,
Why We Love

"Free Love"    

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Author,
Being No One

I Will Be Dead Wrong Again

Tech Culture Journalist; Co-editor, BoingBoing
; Commentator, NPR; Columnist, Wired

Truth Prevails. Sometimes, Technology Helps

Psychologist, New York University; Author,
The Birth of the Mind

Metacognition For Kids

Psychologist, MIT; Author,
Evocative Objects: Things We Think With

The Immeasurables

Chief Curator, Utah Museum of Natural History; Associate Professor, University of Utah; Host, Dinosaur Planet TV series

A New, Environmentally Sustainable Worldview

Physicist, Arizona State University; Author,
The Cosmic Jackpot

A One-Way Ticket To Mars

- PAGE 11 -

Student, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; Researcher, Internet 0, Fab Lab Thinner Clients for South Africa, Conformal Computing

Technology in Education

Science Editor, The Daily Telegraph; Coauthor, After Dolly

The Public Will Become Immune To Hype

Mathematician, Computer Scientist; CyberPunk Pioneer; Novelist; Author,
Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul

A Knowable Gaian Mind

Physicist, UC Irvine; Author, Deep Time

Save The Arctic

Archaeologist, University of Bradford; Author, The Buried Soul


Biologist; Climatologist, Stanford University; Author,
Laboratory Earth

The Ozone Hole

Science Writer; Author,
Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind

The Zombie Concept Of Identity

Writer and Television Producer; Author, The Riemann Hypothesis

The Optimism of Scientists

Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine; Author, The Long Tail

Metcalfe's Law of Minds

Psychologist, London School of Economics; Author, Seeing Red

The Best Is Yet To Come

- PAGE 12 -

Evolutionary Biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science, Oxford University; Author,
The God Delusion

The Final Scientific Enlightenment

Computer Scientist and Musician

Interpersonal Communication Will Become More Profound; Rationality Will Become Ever More Romantic

Entrepreneur in Action, Sequoia Capital

Eudaemonia: The Third form Of Happiness

Aritifical Life Researcher; Creator of Lucy, a Robot Babay Orangutan; Author, Creation: Life and How to Make It

The Strong Possibility That We've Got Everything Horribly Wrong

Professor of Philosophy, Edinburgh University
; Author, Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again

The End Of The 'Natural'

Founder, Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder; The Well; cofounder, Global Business Network; Author, How Buildings Learn

Cities — Global Population Shrinkage And Economic Growth

Psychologist; Director, Quality of Life Research Center, Claremont Graduate University; Author, Flow

We Are Asking And Answering

Editor, Release 1.0; Trustee, Long Now Foundation; Author,
Release 2.0

The Attention Of The World's Rich Will Turn To Solving The Problems Of The Poor

Physicist, Stanford University; Author, The Cosmic Landscape

Going Beyond Our Darwinian Roots

Cultural Revolution Correspondent, Washington Post; Author, Radical Evolution" The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — And What It Means to Be Human

The Human Response To Vast Change Will Involve Strange Bounces

- PAGE 13 -

Psychologist; Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Harvard University

Unraveling Beliefs

Geochronologist Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Geomorphic Evidence for Life on Mars

Physicist, Computer Scientist; Chairman, Applied Minds, Inc.; Author,
The Pattern on the Stone

The Long View of Demographics

Chief Executive, Medical Research Council;Waynflete Professor of Physiology, University of Oxford

Things will — er — get better

Psychologist, Stanford University; Author, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

The Situational Focus

Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist

And Now the Good News

Physicist, Dartmouth College; Author, The Prophet and the Astronomer

That the Debate or, Should I Say, War, Between Science and Religion Will See New Light

Computer Scientist, MIT Media Laboratory

The Human Nervous System Has Come Alive

Writer; Consultant; Author, Passionate Minds

A Core Decency in People that Even the Worst Machinations of Governments Can't Entirely Hold Down

Science fiction novelist; Blogger; Technology activist; Co-editor, Boing Boing

Copying Is What Bits Are For

- PAGE 14 -

Physicist, MIT; Recipient, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics; Author, Fantastic Realities

Physics Will Not Achieve a Theory of Everything

Quantum physicist, Oxford University; Author, The Fabric of Reality

About Whether Solutions in General Are Possible

Physicist and Nobel Laureate; Director Emeritus, Fermilab; Coauthor, The God Particle

The Coming Revolution in Science Education

Science Journalist; Co-author, Why Good Things Happen To Good People

The Human Epigenome Project

Founder and CEO, Neoteny

Emergent Democracy and Global Voices

Evolutionary Biologist, Reading University, England

The Limits of Democracy

Applied mathematician, Cornell University; Author, Sync

Why Do We Need to Sleep?

Co-founder, Wikipedia

Humanity's Coming Enlightenment

Philosopher, School of Advanced Study, University of London; Coeditor,
Knowing Our Own Minds

Attempts to Dictate Our Tastes, Our Preferences, Our Culture, Our Media, Our Political Policies, Or Moral Choices Are Bound In the End to Fail

Biologist; Cloning Researcher; Roslin Institute, Edinburgh; Coauthor, The Second Creation

Research in Biology and Medicine Will Provide the First Effective Treatments for Many Diseases

- PAGE 15 -

President, The Royal Society; Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics; Master, Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Author, Our Final Century: The 50/50 Threat to Humanity's Survival

The Energy Challenge

Psychologist, The New School; Coauthor, Children’s Learning and Attention Problems

Shortening Sleep Will Prolong Conscious Life

Director, Festival Della Scienzia, Genov

How the Achievements of Science Allow Us to Critically Understand and Judge the Reality We Live In

Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego

Reforming Scientific and Medical Publishing Via the Internet

Physicist; Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Princeton University; Coauthor, Endless Universe: A New History of the Cosmos

Bullish on Cosmology

Neuroscientist, Stanford University, Author, A Primate's Memoir

With The Right Sort Of Priorities And Human Engineering (Whatever That Phrase Means), We Can Be Biased Towards Making Us/Them Dichotomies Far More Benign

Psychologist, UC-Berkeley; Coauthor, The Scientist In the Crib

New Children Will Be Born

Cofounder and Director, The Science Network; Neuroscience Researcher, Center for Brain and Cognition, UCSD; Coauthor,
The Origin of Minds; Creator PBS Science Programs

The Women of the 110th Congress

Senior Editor, Discover Magazine; Adjunct Professor, Science Journalism, NYU; Author:
God in the Equation: How Einstein Transformed Religion

Corrective Goggles for Our Conceptual Myopia

Journalist, La Stampa; Italy Correspondent,
Science Magazine

Poincaré, Radiodurans and Teletransportation

- PAGE 16 -

Physicist, String Theorist, Columbia University; Author,The Fabric of the Cosmos

The Power of Our Creative and Analytic Abilities

Psychologist, University of Texas, Austin; Author, The Murderer Next Door

The Future of Human Mating

Electrical Engineer, USC; Author, Noise

Computers Will Let Data Tell More Of Their Own Story

Chief News and Features Editor,
Nature; Author, Mapping Mars

Sunshine State

Director, The Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics, The University of Calgary; Author, At Home in the Universe

Cancer Stem Cells and Novel Cancer Therapies

Psychologist, Harvard Medical School & Harvard University’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative; Author, Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty

The Hedonic Set Point Can Be Raised

Computer Scientist; 1st Generation Artificial Intelligence Pioneer, Stanford University

World Peace

Computer Scientist; 1st Generation Artificial Intelligence Pioneer,
MIT; Author, The Emotion Machine

New Prospects of Immortality

Cosmologist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Recipient, The Nobel Prize For Physics 2006; Coauthor, Wrinkles in Time

Correggio Domani e for peggio! — Courage for Tomorrow Will Be Worse! (The Words of a Born Optimist)

CEO, Managing Director, Intellectual Ventures; Former Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Corporation; Physicist, Paleontologist,Photographer, Chef

The Power of Educated People to Make Important Innovations

Evolutionary Biologist, Rutgers University; Coauthor, Genes In Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements

Long-Term Trends Toward Honesty to Others and Self


John Brockman, Editor and Publisher
Russell Weinberger, Associate Publisher

contact: [email protected]
Copyright © 2007 By
Edge Foundation, Inc
All Rights Reserved.