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

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

Is Neuroscience a Mature Science?

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Mark Baxter, Ph.D. about the status of neuroscience as a field. Mark is a neuroscientist who studies the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. This is my second conversation with Mark. Several months ago, we discussed a controversial paper on the effects of marijuana consumption on the … Continue reading Is Neuroscience a Mature Science?

You’re Not As Rational As You Think: Political Philosophy and the Neuroscience of Irrationality

Cognitive scientists have known for decades that humans are inherently irrational when it comes to making economic decisions. This may seem obvious to a good poker player, who will likely utilize mathematical probability to make economic decisions during a poker game, but to most people the fact that they have systematic economic biases might come as … Continue reading You’re Not As Rational As You Think: Political Philosophy and the Neuroscience of Irrationality

A Conversation with Mark Baxter about the Gilman et al (2014) Paper

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of discussing the Gilman et al (2014) paper, which I wrote about in my last post, with Mark Baxter, Ph.D. Mark is a neuroscientist interested in brain mechanisms of learning and memory. Mark and I had a brief back-and-forth on Twitter recently about the Gilman et al (2014) paper, which … Continue reading A Conversation with Mark Baxter about the Gilman et al (2014) Paper

Cognitive Astrobiology

So here's a cool combination of fields: neuroscience and astrobiology. Let's call it "cognitive astrobiology." What is cognitive astrobiology? It can take several forms. The first is figuring out how to communicate with extraterrestrial life. The SETI Institute, devoted to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, has a resident psychologist on board, Douglas Vakoch, whose job … Continue reading Cognitive Astrobiology