One of the great things about the internet in general, and open access
research in particular, is how accessible the frontiers of human knowledge have
become. The website edge.org demonstrates this
with a thought-provoking set of 165 short essays from
leading neuroscientists, physicists, technologists, philosophers and other
thinkers, in response to the following question:
When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that’s faith.
When facts change your mind, that’s science.
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How
have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?
A small selection of highlights:
- Roger Shank, one of the
founding fathers of AI, notes his fading hopes for
superhuman AI in his own lifetime: "I am a lot older and we are
barely closer to creating smart machines."
- Bart Kosko, fuzzy logic
pioneer, says why he now thinks the sample mean isn’t
all its cracked up to be (he’d take the median).
- Neuroscientist Joseph
Ledoux discusses the surprising evidence that memories are altered by
the act of remembering them, so that in fact, "your memory about
something is only as good as your last memory about it".
- Terry Sejnowski questions
the conventional reliance on the average
firing rates of neurons as the primary statistical variable, noting
that increasing evidence suggests that the exact timing may after all
encode important information.
- Stanislas Dehean speculates
as to whether we may be getting close metaphorically speaking, to finding
equation for the brain.
- Physicist Lee Smolin
relates his changing views on the concept of time.
It is stimulating stuff, and thanks to the combination of Wikipedia and open access research literature,
these essays provide 165 accessible starting points that can be used by anyone
who is curious to explore some of farthest reaches of our knowledge (and
ignorance) about the world around us.