TED – Paul Zak: Trust, morality — and oxytocin


A neuroeconomist puts forth his case that a single molecule, the neurochemical oxytocin, underlies our desire to act as moral agents, trust each other, and enable us to live in an increasingly global civilization.

Dan Dennett discusses consciousness & self-deception


We fool ourselves with frightening regularity, and to me, a fundamental difference between skeptics and true believers is the tendency of the latter to convince themselves that they cannot be fooled, that none can take advantage of them, even to the extent of thinking themselves immune to self-deception, the first and most basic of all deceptions, ultimately leading to vulnerability to any bamboozle that saunters up to them.

And I’ve seen this happen with some pretty smart, well-educated, and sane people, who use their sharp wits and good education to better effect in keeping themselves fooled on some very important issues, by crafting clever, very clever, too clever, arguments in my view, that sound perfectly rational to the unwary, but the argumentation strategies and language used betraying their specious nature and raising a host of red flags.

Arguments so clever and well-articulated that their makers notice nary a thing wrong…

Daniel Dennett here discusses the issue of how our brains actively fool us, and how it can and does go on in even the most skeptical of us, requiring extreme caution whenever we are tempted to think with our proverbial gut, and in acting on it, getting us into a lot of trouble in the process.

TED – Jeff Hawkins: We Need a Theory of Brain Science


Jeff discusses the need for a coherent paradigm, grounded in sciences like biology, physics, mathematics, and yes, neuroscience, for how the brain works as a better model of making truly intelligent machines, which would be based, not on behavior, but on the same ability of our own brains to take in data and make predictions about what we perceive.

While this probably wouldn’t lead to Asimov’s R. Daneel Olivaw or the Terminator, it would be a better, much more realistic model resulting in computers as more than just fast processing machines, but truly intelligent in the same way we are, using better criteria to assess this intelligence than the Turing tests we use now.