Berfrois

Should We Fear AI?

Should We Fear AI?

It is wise to think through the implications of new technology. I understand the good intentions of Jaron Lanier and others who have raised an alarm about AI.

Read More

Jyl Oghuha

Jyl Oghuha

Lena Pillars. Photograph by Maarten Takens by Greg Downey The Bull of Winter weakens In 2003, after decades of working with the Viliui Sakha, indigenous horse and cattle breeders in the Vilyuy River region of northeastern Siberia, anthropologist Susan Crate began to hear the local people complain about climate...

Read More

Cold War Social Science by Audra J. Wolfe

Cold War Social Science by Audra J. Wolfe

Last November I sat in a hotel ballroom surrounded by fellow historians of science as a baffling (to me, anyway) exchange unfolded over the legitimacy of the term “Cold War Social Science.” The occasion was a roundtable discussion at the History of Science Society’s annual meeting on a new...

Read More

Just Laugh

Just Laugh

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office, BBC, 2001 From The American Scholar: In my neuropsychiatric practice, I often use cartoons and jokes to measure a patient’s neurologic and psychiatric well-being. I start off with a standard illustration called “The Cookie Theft.” It depicts a boy, precariously balanced...

Read More

‘Technology is embedded within social relations of hierarchy and control’

‘Technology is embedded within social relations of hierarchy and control’

From The Cubies’ A B C, illustrated by Mary Mills Lyall and Earl Harvey Lyall, 1913. Via by Guy Aitchison Writing in response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first systematic attempt by the US government to police the internet, John Perry Barlow – former lyricist for the Grateful...

Read More

Mind Out

Mind Out

Kurzweil has honors from three US presidents (so says Wikipedia) and was the “principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner” and other useful devices, as well as receiving many other entrepreneurial awards. He is clearly a man of many parts—but is ultimate theoretician of the mind one of...

Read More

Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Contrast (Order and Chaos), M.C. Escher, 1950 by Mircea Pitici The world of mathematics is a dissenter’s paradise. Although mathematical reasoning binds the mind to rigor and constrains it to obey rules of inference and to accept semantic conventions shared by the community of its practitioners, the world of...

Read More

Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

I’ve spent a good deal of time lately reading up on the set of historical, medical and philosophical conditions known for centuries as melancholia and more recently as depression. My interest is that I’ve been commissioned to write a book about melancholia, but I’ll be writing it because it’s...

Read More

With Atomic Power

With Atomic Power

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: After being discharged from the Air Service at the end of the Great War, Buck Rogers was hired by the American Radioactive Gas Corporation as an inspector; while investigating a mine, he was overcome by (what else?) radioactive gas, and it preserved him...

Read More

Desires

Desires

Scene From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom, Edwin Henry Landseer, 1848 From Threepenny Review: As in Freud’s own time, the “boundary violation” (the discipline’s contemporary euphemism) remains embarrassingly common. Usually the clinician is a man, often professionally distinguished with years of experience, and the patient a younger...

Read More

Sound and Sight

Sound and Sight

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney Studios, 1928 by Bill Benzon Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz has an interesting piece in the New York Times: The Science and Art of Listening. He talks of hearing as the passive registering of sound; listening, however, requires active attention. Hearing is fast while vision is slow:...

Read More

Open (Access) All Hours

Open (Access) All Hours

Photograph by Aunt Owwee by Cameron Neylon With major governments signalling a shift to Open Access it seems like a good time to be asking which organisations in the scholarly communications space will survive the transition. It is likely that the major current publishers will survive, although relative market share...

Read More