Thinking without a brain

Can the presence of intelligent behavior in other creatures (creatures that don’t have a nervous system comparable to ours) tell us something about what ideas are, or how thought fits into nature’s actions? It has always seemed to us humans that our ideas are one of the fruits of what we call our ‘intelligence.’  And […]

Computations can be very natural

A recent post on Mind Hacks challenged the perspective outlined in a NY Times op-ed by psychologist Gary Marcus with the title Face It, Your Brain Is a Computer.  The title of Marcus’ piece may be misleading. The brain/computer analogy that he proposes is more a strategy than a theory. But the rejection of brain/computer […]

Bees, art, consciousness and mathematics

Studies and insights into the nature of consciousness always get my attention. Inevitably I see mathematics in the discussion, tangentially or directly (as with Giulio Tononi’s qualia space). I’d like to outline, here, a particular train of thought that emerged after reading a couple of articles and a few papers.

The first of these, written […]

A mathematical philosophy – a digital view

I’ve become fascinated with Gregory Chaitin’s exploration of randomness in computing and his impulse to bring these observations to bear on physical, mathematical, and biological theories. His work inevitably addresses epistemological questions – what it means to know, to comprehend – and leads him to move (as he says in a recent paper) in the […]

What we see when….

I recently listened to Krys Boyd’s interview with Peter Mendelsund, author of the new book What We See When We Read,  on North Texas’ public radio. Mendelsund is an award-winning book jacket designer. The interview had the effect of connecting his thoughts about reading to thoughts that I have had about mathematics. It wasn’t immediately […]

What does our experience have to do with mathematics?

This is something of a follow-up to my last post.  I checked out a series of links related to Max Tegmark in the last few days, having heard about the release of his first book Our Mathematical Universe.  But I was also motivated by having observed that the latest conference organized by the Foundational Questions […]

Avalanches, structure, and expectations

New Scientist did an article in their February 6 issue called Mind Maths: Five laws that rule the brain.  

As is usually the case, the article’s allure is the suggestion that new research may hold the promise of capturing the brain’s complexity in just a few mathematical models.  And, as is usually the case, I […]

Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind, and mathematics

I listened last week to Diane Rehm’s interview with Ray Kurzweil, author of the book “How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed”  A transcript of the interview can be found here.

Published in mid-November, it is already a New York Times bestseller, and some of the responses to it from prominent […]

Birds and the number 0

I’ve been working on an article that has me thinking about neuroscientifc studies on the cerebral representations of magnitude and it happened to be brought to my attention today that Irene Pepperberg spoke at the 2012 Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Animals.

Pepperberg is famous for having worked for many years with […]