Comments from the Edge


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A facilitated discussion at UBC as part of the CTLT Institute

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  • What was this before? Campfire chat, Open discussion - this year we thought we’d try something a little different: frame a session around this broad question posed by the edge organization. What is the Edge? some say: “superhero clubhouse for computer scientists and physicists and neurologists and genomists and philosophers and plenty of other people who are actively thinking about the shape of our future (or just plain shaping it)” Those involved with it call it an online conversation which has its origins in something called the Reality Club - involving a group of intellectuals, meeting over dinner or copious amounts of alcohol to discuss ideas (in the 80s and 90s. John Brockman (originator)- more than a literary agent who cares about the intersections between art and science, he has been described as having an “uncanny way of knowing people who know something important, and a talent for putting those people together.” Each year they come up with a question sufficiently broad enough to engage a wide range of people and disciplines. I’ve prepared 6 snippets from the responses of a variety of thinkers to this year’s Edge question for us to engage in conversation about - this is how I think it will go...
  • In groups of 3, we are going to consider each snippet in response to the question: What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? use the sticky notes to record - one idea per. arrange your notes on the grid (called feedback capture): + agreement with the ideas presented in the snippet, - indicates dissention/disagreement, lightbulb indicates an idea that this snippet generated for you. ? indicates questions that the snippet generated. 5 minutes for discussion, 5 minutes to share. Rotate which groups will share first, other groups will add anything new. I’ve also added an image to introduce each snippet, which I’ll give you a minute to take in before we discuss - sometimes images help to offer a new way to process ideas/ unlock thinking.
  • n the 1950s, Princeton psychologist George Miller famously argued that our brains can hold only about seven pieces of information simultaneously. Even that figure may be too high. Some brain researchers now believe that working memory has a maximum capacity of just three or four elements. There are times when you want to be awash in messages and other info-bits. The resulting sense of connectedness and stimulation can be exciting and pleasurable. But it's important to remember that, when it comes to the way your brain works, information overload is not just a metaphor; it's a physical state.
  • Comments from the Edge

    1. 1. Questions From the Edge <ul><li>2011 </li></ul><ul><li>What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? </li></ul><ul><li> / </li></ul>?
    2. 2. <ul><li>A few snippets: </li></ul><ul><li>consider images </li></ul><ul><li>discuss and record observations/thoughts on snippet </li></ul><ul><li>use a grid to organize </li></ul><ul><li>share observations: relate to teaching and learning where possible </li></ul>IMAGE BY: PINK PONK ON Flickr
    4. 4. COGNITIVE LOAD <ul><li>“ The amount of information entering our consciousness at any instant is referred to as our cognitive load. When our cognitive load exceeds the capacity of our working memory, our intellectual abilities take a hit.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The more aware we are of how small and fragile our working memory is, the more we'll be able to monitor and manage our cognitive load. We'll become more adept at controlling the flow of the information coming at us.” </li></ul><ul><li>NICHOLAS CARR </li></ul><ul><li>Author, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains </li></ul>
    6. 6. CURATE <ul><li>“‘ Curate’ finds ever-wider application because of a feature of modern life that is impossible to ignore: the incredible proliferation of ideas, information, images, disciplinary knowledge, and material products that we are all witnessing today. Such proliferation makes the activities of filtering, enabling, synthesizing, framing, and remembering more and more important as basic navigational tools for 21st century life. These are the tasks of the curator.” </li></ul><ul><li>HANS ULRICH OBRIST </li></ul><ul><li>Curator, Serpentine Gallery, London  </li></ul>
    7. 7. UNCERTAINTY TEXT IMAGE BY: onkel_wart ON Flickr
    8. 8. THE USELESSNESS OF CERTAINTY <ul><li>“ There is a widely used notion that does plenty of damage: the notion of ‘scientifically proven’. Nearly an oxymoron. The very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt.” </li></ul><ul><li>CARLO ROVELLI </li></ul><ul><li>Physicist, University of Aix-Marseille, France; Author, The First Scientist: Anaximander and the Nature of Science </li></ul>
    10. 10. RISK LITERACY <ul><li>“ Risk literacy requires emotional re-wiring: rejecting comforting paternalism and illusions of certainty, and learning to take responsibility and to live with uncertainty. Daring to know..” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Rather than being nudged into doing what experts believe is right, people should be encouraged and equipped to make informed decisions for themselves.” </li></ul><ul><li>GERD GIGERENZER </li></ul><ul><li>Psychologist; Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin; Author, Gut Feelings </li></ul>
    11. 11. COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE TEXT IMAGE BY: careesma_group ON Flickr
    12. 12. COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE <ul><li>“ Human achievement is entirely a networking phenomenon. It is by putting brains together through the division of labor — through trade and specialisation — that human society stumbled upon a way to raise the living standards, carrying capacity, technological virtuosity and knowledge base of the species.” </li></ul><ul><li>MATT RIDLEY </li></ul><ul><li>Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code </li></ul>
    13. 13. INTERBEING IMAGE by: _Fidelio_ On Flickr
    14. 14. INTERBEING <ul><li>“ Humanity's cognitive toolkit would greatly benefit from adoption of ‘interbeing,’ a concept that comes from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. In his words:...” </li></ul><ul><li>SCOTT D. SAMPSON </li></ul><ul><li>Paleontologist and science communicator; Author: Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>“ If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in [a] sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either . . . ‘Interbeing’ is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix ‘inter-’ with the verb to ‘be’, we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud, we cannot have a paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are. . . . ‘To be’ is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.&quot; </li></ul>INTERBEING
    16. 17. Snippets <ul><li>From: / </li></ul><ul><li>Nicholas Carr: Cognitive LOad: </li></ul><ul><li> carrn </li></ul><ul><li>hans Ulrich obrist: To Curate </li></ul><ul><li> obrist </li></ul><ul><li>Carlo Rovelli: The uselessness of certainty </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>gird gigerenzer: Risk Literacy </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Matt Ridley: Collective intelligence </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Scott sampson: Interbeing </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    17. 18. Your Contribution <ul><li>Share your thoughts... </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Contact: </li></ul>What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?