Some say that the hand is where the mind meets the world. So what happens if you lose a hand? What are the options for a replacement? And the power of the human hand to create music out of chaos: how does a conductor communicate his musical vision to an orchestra. Bridget Kendall’s guests are: prof. Simon Kay, a surgeon based in Leeds, who performed the first hand transplant in the UK; New Zealander Lynette Jones, Senior Research Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studies tactile sensations; and Sakari Oramo, a Finnish musician who recently became the Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Tagged with “humanity” (25)
First, he presents exhaustive evidence that the tragic view of history is wrong and always has been. A close examination of the data shows that in every millennium, century, and decade, humans have been drastically reducing violence, cruelty, and injustice—-right down to the present year. A trend that consistent is not luck; it has to be structural.
So, second, he boldly founds a discipline that might as well be called “psychohistory.” As a Harvard psychologist and public intellectual (author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate), he sought causes for the phenomenon he’s reporting—-why violence has declined. Real ethical progress, he found, came from a sequence of institutions, norms, cultural practices, and mental tricks employed by whole societies to change their collective mind and behavior in a peaceful direction.
Humanity’s great project of civilizing itself is far from complete, but Pinker’s survey of how far we’ve come builds confidence that the task will be completed, and he illuminates how to get there.
It is in many ways a unique story. Here is a creature imagined, something that is higher and better and different from a man. Here is the dream of a creature that is half horse, half man, who has the physical fitness of a horse and the mental complexity of a man. This extraordinary fable shows the depths of the human confusion that the creature faces. It is a wonderful way of looking into the conflict between what one’s body desires or dictates – sexual desire as part of our power; it’s through sexual desire that you take possession, after all – and many of one’s other ideals about how we ought to approach another being. There’s as much in this little story as in 20 novels and 20 poems.
Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon discuss the quest for immortality, which has been with humanity for a long time — perhaps since the very beginning, and which has done much to shape the world in which we live. New organizations are emerging with a whole new take on the proposition that life can be extended indefinitely.
How do we get from here to there? The phases might look something like this:
Durable Digital Replacements
So, will some of us live forever? And what does that even mean?
Edward O. Wilson has revolutionized science and inspired the public more often than any other living biologist. Now he is blending his pioneer work on ants with a new perspective on human development to propose a radical reframing of how evolution works.
First the social insects ruled, from 60 million years ago. Then a species of social mammals took over, from 10 thousand years ago. Both sets of “eusocial” animals mastered the supremely delicate art of encouraging altruism, so that individuals in the groups would act as if they value the goal of the group over their own goals. They would specialize for the group and die for the group. In recent decades the idea of “kin selection” seemed to explain how such an astonishing phenomenon could evolve. Wilson replaces kin selection with “multi-level selection,” which incorporates both individual selection (long well understood) and group selection (long considered taboo). Every human and every human society has to learn how to manage adroitly the perpetual ambiguity and conflict between individual needs and group needs. What I need is never the same as what we need.
E. O. Wilson’s current book is The Social Conquest of Earth. His previous works include The Superorganism; The Future of Life; Consilience; Biophilia; Sociobiology; and The Insect Societies.
I’m thinking a lot about species concepts as applied to humans, about the "Out of Africa" model, and also looking back into Africa itself. I think the idea that modern humans originated in Africa is still a sound concept. Behaviorally and physically, we began our story there, but I’ve come around to thinking that it wasn’t a simple origin. Twenty years ago, I would have argued that our species evolved in one place, maybe in East Africa or South Africa. There was a period of time in just one place where a small population of humans became modern, physically and behaviourally. Isolated and perhaps stressed by climate change, this drove a rapid and punctuational origin for our species. Now I don’t think it was that simple, either within or outside of Africa.
CHRISTOPHER STRINGER is one of the world’s foremost paleoanthropologists. He is a founder and most powerful advocate of the leading theory concerning our evolution: Recent African Origin or "Out of Africa". He has worked at The Natural History Museum, London since 1973, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and currently leads the large and successful Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project (AHOB), His most recent book is The Origin of Our Species (titled Lone Survivors in the US).
Quantum computing genius and Oxford don David Deutsch is a thinker of such scale and audaciousness he can take your breath away. His bottom line is simple and breathtaking all at once.
It’s this: human beings are the most important entities in the universe. Or as Deutsch might have it, in the “multiverse.” For eons, little changed on this planet, he says. Progress was a joke. But once we got the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution, our powers of inquiry and discovery became infinite. Without limit.
Nick Bostrom doesn’t rule out the possibility that he might be part of a computer simulation. Find out why in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.
Photographer Max Aguilera-Hellweg and Siddhartha Srinivasa, Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, talk about the future of robots and how robots are becoming more human. Max Aguilera-Hellweg took the photographs for the article “Making Robots Human,” in the August issue of National Geographic magazine, and Siddhartha Srinivasa is featured in the story. With advances in technology that allow robots to speak, blink, smile and perform such tasks as folding clothes and cooking, questions are being raised as to how human is too human. They explore how much everyday human function we want to outsource to machines, how the robot revolution will change the way we relate to each other, and if we’re ready for robots.
Spark presents a special hour of Marshall McLuhan-inspired programming called, Tomorrow Is Our Permanent Address, named after one of McLuhan’s own witty turns of phrase. Today marks the centenary of McLuhan’s birth, and what better way to celebrate than exploring the theories of a man who has been credited with predicting the future of technology.
Includes - Why The Medium is Still The Message - The Networked City - From Rare to Everywhere (and back again!) - The Googlization of Everything
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