The following post is from my new article for Knowing Neurons, an online publication about neuroscience and the mind. The Matrix made all of us ask the same disturbing questions: How do I know that the world I see, hear, and touch is real? Can I prove that I’m not actually in a pod created by machines […]Read more "We Are All Brains In Vats"
As long as the nature of consciousness will remain a mystery, we will be in the grip of anxiety. And that is because we are, all of us, haunted by that uniquely human question: what awaits us after death? Although the vast majority of Americans believe in some sort of afterlife, such beliefs are starkly at odds […]Read more "There Is No Ghost In The Brain"
Our seas have been mapped. The planets in our sky have been named and catalogued. The urge to voyage into unknown waters has largely dissipated from the popular imagination. We may think ourselves accomplished – even the minutest details of our world can be accessed by the computers in our pockets, and our astronomers have […]Read more "Our Age of Discovery"
Below is the text of my newest article for the Berkeley Science Review: The brain does many things. It makes decisions, it remembers facts, it moves our muscles, it can do math, and it can communicate with other brains. Each of these abilities are active subjects of neuroscience research. But the brain does something else, which […]Read more "Consciousness Is A Scientific Problem"
I recently had a brief back-and-forth with Bobby Azarian about his new article on Raw Story. Azarian, a neuroscientist at George Mason University, argued that artificial intelligence (AI) could never be conscious. I highly recommend reading Azarian’s article: it’s a great distillation of some key concepts in the philosophy of mind, and he makes an […]Read more "Why Machines Could Be – But Aren’t – Conscious"
Below is the text of my newest article for the Berkeley Science Review: In October, 2004, the Dover Area School District in York County, Pennsylvania decided that intelligent design would be taught in their classrooms as an alternative to evolutionary theory. In response, a group of Dover parents sued the school district, claiming that […]Read more "The Demarcation Problem"
Secular inquiry is fragile. The history of trying to understand the world without reference to the gods is remarkably tumultuous – so much so that it is baffling that secular inquiry, as a social phenomenon, should have survived at all. Many thinkers throughout history have devoted themselves to keeping nonreligious thought alive, but six thinkers […]Read more "The Fragile History of Secular Thought"