Acceleration of Knowledge
Throughout history we hairless primates have been jumping higher, living longer, and getting smarter every century. From Thai stir-fry to Roman roads, knowledge doubled faster as it drifted West—till now it jumps each year! Space migration? Check. Intelligence increase through yoga, drugs, or machines? You bet. Genetic tinkering? It's coming. And indefinite lifespans? We're on the yellow brick road to divinity, to roam the stars forever, to boldly go where no ape has gone before. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Keep hope alive and party on!
Computing Machinery and Intelligence
Computing Machinery and Intelligence is a seminal paper written by Alan Turing on the topic of artificial intelligence. The paper, published in 1950 in Mind, was the first to introduce his concept of what is now known as the Turing test to the general public.
General System Theory
In his seminal work, biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy outlines a theory of systems that breaks down disciplinary boundaries and argues that there are general principles and laws applicable to systems of all kinds. He contends that phenomena should be viewed not in isolation but as components of systems interacting with their environments. Bertalanffy proposes that there are commonalities across biological, physical, and social systems that can be explored through systems thinking. He suggests the need for an overarching systems science to uncover these universal system principles. The book develops key concepts like open and closed systems, steady states, growth, feedback, homeostasis, differentiation, hierarchy, and emergence. General System Theory was groundbreaking in its interdisciplinary approach and helped foster the growth of systems theory across academia and society.
Glimpsing the Global Brain
Complex systems theorist Heylighen and evolutionary biologist Wilson discuss a possible phase transition of humanity in which the members of our species become neurons in a planetary brain, utilizing the Internet as a shared exocortex.
Man on his Nature
Sherrington had long studied the 16th century French physician Jean Fernel, and grew so familiar with him that he considered him a friend. In the years of 1937 and 1938, Sherrington delivered the Gifford lectures at the University of Edinburgh; these focused on Fernel and his times, and came to form the principal content of Man on His Nature. The book was released in 1940, and a revised edition came out in 1951. It explores philosophical thoughts about the mind, the human existence, and God, in connection with natural theology. In his ideas on the mind and cognition, Sherrington introduced the idea that neurons work as groups in a "million-fold democracy" to produce outcomes rather than with central control.
Mind and Nature
Renowned for his contributions to anthropology, biology, and the social sciences, Bateson asserts that man must think as Nature does to live in harmony on the earth and, citing examples from the natural world, he maintains that biological evolution is a mental process.
My View of the World
A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.
Process and Reality
One of the major philosophical texts of the twentieth century, Process and Reality is based on Alfred North Whitehead’s influential lectures that he delivered at the University of Edinburgh in the 1920s. In it, he propounds a philosophy of organism (or process philosophy), in which the various elements of reality are brought into a consistent relation to each other. It is also an exploration of some of the preeminent thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as Descartes, Newton, Locke, and Kant.
The Omega Point as Eschaton
Frank Tipler presents an outline of the Omega Point theory, which is a model for an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, evolving, personal God who is both transcendent to spacetime and immanent in it, and who exists necessarily. The model is a falsifiable physical theory, deriving its key concepts not from any religious tradition but from modern physical cosmology and computer science; from scientific materialism rather than revelation. Four testable predictions of the model are given. The theory assumes that thinking is a purely physical process of the brain, and that personality dies with the brain. Nevertheless, he shows that the Omega Point theory suggests a future universal resurrection of the dead very similar to the one predicted in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. The notions of “grace” and the “beatific vision” appear naturally in the model.
The Self-Organizing Universe
The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.
The Universe of Experience
Modern experience forces philosophy and social thought to confront the basic problems of value. Is this life worth caring about? How can we find a way between the deceit of fanatical belief and despair? In the view of Lancelot Law Whyte, the essential challenge to mankind today is an underlying nihilism promoting violence and frustrating sane policies on major social issues. Avoiding the seductive trap of utopianism, Whyte approaches this challenge by defining the terms of a potentially worldwide consensus of heart, mind, and will.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
The Richard Courant lecture in mathematical sciences delivered at New York University by physicist Eugene Wigner, in which he observes that a physical theory's mathematical structure often points the way to further advances in that theory and even to empirical predictions. Later published in Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics, vol. 13, No. I.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience
Carl Sagan's prescient exploration of the relationship between religion and science, and his personal search for God.
Who Are We?
A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?