A space to reflect on science and intelligence: baby steps

Now, since you’re here, here goes my first proper post, for which I’d be happy to share with you why I’m starting a blog, and how the reasons might differ from other scientists posting online.

Space to think

Nowadays, I feel we (scientists, but also everyone really) are cruelly lacking space. By space, I mean circumstances in which to dedicate time to a certain set of activities of our choice. In an accelerated society, it has become tricky to dedicate small or large chunks our days for reflection, apart from the frame of duties and habits constructed around our jobs or fulfilling our direct needs.

Reflection space.
A dedicated space to write and reflect.
We may have the impression we have got plenty of time in our days, but the time previous generations had to themselves, we tend to fill more and more densely without thinking carefully about. Mostly, this happens by letting various technologies and societal mechanisms “optimize” our lives, by making us spend less time reflecting, and more time browsing compulsively the last online news on our little screens, for example.
I’m all about having technology augment our capabilities, but I strongly feel one must keep some special space for self-debriefing on daily events, emotions and choices, or on the larger scheme of things. Truth be told, we barely realize how little control we end up having in our lives. This blog is one of my attempts to fight that.
I guess I am not totally new to writing. Just like everyone else, in addition to using e-mail and other technologies, I already write a lot in my work, specifically scientific articles as that’s what scientists do. I do also spend time daily writing personal notes, as a support to my general thinking process. This helps me slow down and listen to my own thoughts, making it easier to correct mistakes, switch focus, and get the larger picture. What does a blog add to this? I imagine mostly, this forces me to use a different language than I’d use to talk to myself.
Agreeing with oneself.
Blogging as a conversation with oneself.

For the benefit of a stranger

In addition to the value it has for me, I believe this may be interesting to readers. Of course, anyone interested in science may spend their time reading academic publications, or, if more limited with time, they may focus on press releases which summarize recent scientific results. It’s my understanding that a more personal kind of report may be fun and interesting to read, and I hope to be able to bridge this gap in my posts.

Continuous dialogue

A great thing about a blog is that some posts may lead to a conversation, among very different people, whose convenient link (for me) will be myself. This can then be kept track of through time, and hopefully will provide me with more and very different feedback compared to my papers and articles.

Cooperation in the biosphere.
Cooperating in the world.

Not only are there many ideas that don’t fit in the canvas of scientific papers, the nature of the feedback one can get from them is rather slow, especially if one likes to have a conversational-level exchange with an audience. I am not questioning the huge importance of peer-reviewed feedback, but see a lot of value too in many different timescales for both writing and echoes one gets from it, which can considerably boost our creativity.

And in the darkness bind them

I maintained other blogs in the past (and still do), but none of them really had a purpose as close as this one to my personal drives. Here, I also want to take the opportunity to integrate my researcher’s life and my other passions.

If I’m very honest, I definitely am under the impression that I tend to repress mixing the latter with my scientific practice. But any of the topics that are exciting to me, cognition, linguistics, artificial life (ALife), artificial intelligence (AI), epistemology, robotics, music, phenomenology, ethics, mathematics, Go, astrobiology, architecture, hypnosis, magic, games, cultural evolution, anthropology, cybernetics, neuroscience, roleplaying, graphical arts, and many more, all deserve to be mixed and matched freely. I think this this will be a great place for that.

Between biointelligence and technointelligence

Within these many topics, I am not yet sure which ones I’ll be writing more about, although I have a rough plan concerning a dozen of topics from my personal notes, which I’d like to open up for further discussion.
Technologies that expand the possibilities of humankind.
Among a few examples, I’d like to share my ideas about the expansion and contraction of scientific knowledge. Most of science is serendipitous, and scientists don’t have an exact knowledge about how they get to new discoveries, any more than the central scientific method itself. I also want to share my thoughts on how science can be done differently, with less walls between disciplines.

I will also write my thoughts about the nature of intelligence, and in particular AI, the future of technology and how the technosphere can combine (as it is doing already) with the biosphere. I will share my ideas about the future language of machines and augmented humans, and how they may drastically differ from the type of communication we know, which may have important implications for reasoning types of machine learning, how science is done, but also how minds will communicate between each other and even how one would go about talking to diverse intelligences, animal, artificial or extraterrestrial.

Keep it chill and reflective

This is a space for relaxed and crazy thought dumping, while keeping accurate scientifically as much as possible. This is a space where we won’t rush into judgment, and allow ourselves to be self-reflective and share creative ideas in a open manner. Mostly, I believe it is important to remain very open-minded, and be able to discuss any concept, even when it seems very far-fetched. In summary, this will be my thinktank, and I’d be happy to see it connect with each of your thinktanks.

So, let’s have some fun!

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