The Society of Mind
Marvin Minsky (one of the fathers of computer science and cofounder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT) gives a revolutionary answer to the age-old question: How does the mind work? Minsky brilliantly portrays the mind as a 'society' of tiny components that are themselves mindless. Mirroring his theory, Minsky boldly casts The Society of Mind as an intellectual puzzle whose pieces are assembled along the way. Each chapter, presented on a self-contained page, corresponds to a piece in the puzzle. As the pages turn, a unified theory of the mind emerges, like a mosaic. Ingenious, amusing, and easy to read, The Society of Mind is an adventure in imagination.
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.
The Evolutionary Mind
What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.
Interview on Cybernetics
Progress Through Fear
A talk on the impact of science and technology on man's role in the natural world.
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!
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.
The Long Childhood
In this final episode, Bronowski—poet, playwright, mathematician, philosopher—draws together many threads of the series. He takes stock of man's complex, sometimes precarious, ascent, and argues that man's growth to self-knowledge is the longest childhood of all.
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.