Why Machines Could Be – But Aren’t – Conscious

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 … Continue reading Why Machines Could Be – But Aren’t – Conscious

The Demarcation Problem

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 … Continue reading The Demarcation Problem

Love In A World Of Atoms

The threads that weave the cloth of our mentality are soulless. Our experience of the most beautiful sunset, our most fervent desires, our loftiest thoughts, and our most expansive feelings of love are storms of neural activity, nothing more. Science – and neuroscience in particular – has stripped our mental lives of a soul. But … Continue reading Love In A World Of Atoms

Peace and the Scientific Worldview

I am sitting on a balcony in Haifa, Israel. Looking westward, I can see a sleepy haze obscuring the horizon where the Mediterranean meets the sky. The atmosphere here is calm – it is Saturday, a holy day. Occasionally I hear the blaring of a car horn, or the happy squeal of a child, or … Continue reading Peace and the Scientific Worldview

On the Golden Age of Islamic Science

We tend to think about the history of science as something that started in Ancient Greece, did fairly well in Ancient Rome, was forgotten in the world during the Middle Ages, and was then revived during the European Renaissance. What’s often neglected in this story is the vital role that medieval Muslims played in preserving and … Continue reading On the Golden Age of Islamic Science

Why Humans Go To War

Humans, chimpanzees, and wolves are the only mammals that form coalitions with other members of their species to inflict deadly violence on yet other members of their species. Why do we do it? We may have evolved an instinct for war. Support for this idea comes from what anthropologist Richard Wrangham calls the Chimpanzee Violence Hypothesis. The … Continue reading Why Humans Go To War

The Future of Spirituality

What will spirituality look like in 100 years? What will it look like when technology is fully woven into the fabric of our world and our biology, when our scientific understanding of the world and of ourselves will have progressed far beyond what we can imagine? What will the temples of such a world look like? Or its … Continue reading The Future of Spirituality