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Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?

Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?
One spring morning in Tucson, Arizona, in 1994, an unknown philosopher named David Chalmers got up to give a talk on consciousness, by which he meant the feeling of being inside your head, looking out – or, to use the kind of language that might give a neuroscientist an aneurysm, of having a soul. Though he didn’t realise it at the time, the young Australian academic was about to ignite a war between philosophers and scientists, by drawing attention to a central mystery of human life – perhaps the central mystery of human life – and revealing how embarrassingly far they were from solving it. The scholars gathered at the University of Arizona – for what would later go down as a landmark conference on the subject – knew they were doing something edgy: in many quarters, consciousness was still taboo, too weird and new agey to take seriously, and some of the scientists in the audience were risking their reputations by attending. Such non-conscious humanoids don’t exist, of course.

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What Is Consciousness? Neuroscientist May Have Answer to the Big Question Photo Credit: The following is an excerpt from the new bookConsciousness and the Social Brain by Michael S. A. Graziano (Oxford University Press, 2015): In Praise of Limits By Leo Babauta We live in a world of abundance, often to the point of excess: we can buy anything anytime, consume as much of the Internet as we want, eat anything all the time, work as much as our bodies will allow. With so much available, it can become overwhelming, unhealthy, unbalanced. I’d like to propose a few limits. Leading Theory About How Consciousness Works May Be Wrong Scientists’ attempts to discern the neurological activities that constitute consciousness have taken a dramatic twist, after a recent study appeared to contradict one of the leading theories on the topic. Until now, it had been widely accepted that conscious thought requires complex, sustained and widespread brain activity, while the mind’s unconscious workings involve much shorter and simpler processes. However, the paper, which appeared in the journal Cortex, seems to show that some of the mechanisms previously considered unique to and constitutive of consciousness can in fact be observed during unconscious processes, too. In particular, the study challenges the notion that a specific event-related potential (ERP) – an electrophysiological response to external stimuli – called P3b is a key indicator of conscious thought.

Free will is back, and maybe we can measure it – Stephen Cave The cat is crouched low to the ground, whiskers brushing grass. It inches forward in minute movements, eyes drilling towards two sparrows just ahead. It tenses, set to spring. The birds prance like sparring boxers, unaware. But then the cat’s muscles relax. The moment wasn’t quite right – something in the angle or the air.

How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries One year ago, I left San Francisco, sold and gave away everything I owned, and moved into a 40-liter backpack. I traveled to 45 cities in 20 countries, three Disneylands, and one bunny island. I also worked 50 hours a week building and launching a startup. And my total costs were less than just the rent in San Francisco. Traveling is not the same as vacation There’s a growing community of “digital nomads” who live a location-independent lifestyle. Who's in charge – you or your brain? David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and bestselling author It is clear at this point that we are irrevocably tied to the 3lb of strange computational material found within our skulls. The brain is utterly alien to us, and yet our personalities, hopes, fears and aspirations all depend on the integrity of this biological tissue. How do we know this?

How and why exactly did consciousness become a probl... Growing up in Australia, I loved to lie on the grass, immersed in the scent of wattles, and stare up at the sky. A sky like no other; a deeper, richer shade of blue than anywhere else I have been – and I’ve travelled on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Australians speculate that the colour of our sky results from its unusually thin ozone layer, a physical anomaly leading to sensory saturation. Why a Generation of Adoptees Is Returning to South Korea Photo Laura Klunder’s newest tattoo runs down the inside of her left forearm and reads “K85-160,” a number that dates to her infancy. Klunder was 9 months old when her South Korean mother left her at a police station in Seoul. The police brought her to Holt Children’s Services, a local adoption agency, where a worker assigned Klunder the case number K85-160.

Consciousness May Not Be As Powerful As You Think by Monica Joshi The quality or state of awareness, or being aware of an external object or something within yourself, in short — consciousness, is the one thing that we have believed defines us as being the creatures that we are. René Descartes and John Locke struggled to comprehend its nature and Eastern philosophers have been content with calling it the “I Am.” This internal dialogue that seems to govern one's thoughts and actions, however, is far less powerful than people believe, according to a new theory proposed by a professor of psychology. The San Francisco State researcher, Ezequiel Morsella has suggested in his “Passive Frame Theory” (a fitting name, as we'll soon find out), that the conscious mind is like an interpreter.

Do we really want to fuse our brains together? — Aeo... You already know that we can run machines with our brainwaves. That’s been old news for almost a decade, ever since the first monkey fed himself using a robot arm and the power of positive thinking. Nowadays, even reports of human neuroprostheses barely raise an eyebrow. Brain-computer interfaces have become commonplace in everything from prosthetic vision to video games (a lot of video games; Emotiv and NeuroSky are perhaps the best-known purveyors of Mind Control to the gaming crowd) to novelty cat ears that perk up on your head when you get horny. But we’ve moved beyond merely thinking orders at machinery. Now we’re using that machinery to wire living brains together.

How Intel Gave Stephen Hawking a Voice Marco Grob/WIRED UK Stephen Hawking first met Gordon Moore, the cofounder of Intel, at a conference in 1997. Moore noticed that Hawking’s computer, which he used to communicate, had an AMD processor and asked him if he preferred instead a “real computer” with an Intel micro-processor. Intel has been providing Hawking with customized PCs and technical support since then, replacing his computer every two years. Hawking lost his ability to speak in 1985, when, on a trip to CERN in Geneva, he caught pneumonia. 4 Ways to Make Your Brain Work Better You're a busy person. Keeping up with your job, plus your life, has you constantly racing. It doesn't help that when working, you're distracted not only by your mobile devices, but also by your computer. You average 10 tabs open in your browser at any one time, and you compulsively click amongst them. One's your email, which never stops flowing in.