A Brief History of Me (2000)
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A Brief History of Me (2000)

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This is a 2000 lecture that i gave to students of San Jose's CADRE.

This is a 2000 lecture that i gave to students of San Jose's CADRE.

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A Brief History of Me (2000) A Brief History of Me (2000) Presentation Transcript

  • A History of Me piero scaruffi
  • Origins • I was born billions of years ago...
  • The Computer Age • A digital world • We fear machines • Each generation has been afraid of the new tools available to their offspring • We fear the way machines will change daily life
  • The Computer Age • We are a tool-making species. • And tools have always shaped the mind. • We are not the only tool-making species, and we are not the only species whose "cognitive life" is shaped by tools. • Even a spider, that has built a spider-web, will have a "mental" life that revolves around the spider-web.
  • The Computer Age • Each new tool, whether it's fire or television, has shaped the mind of the humans who used it. • Tools have "created" the mind as it is now. • That includes our "artistic" expressions
  • Mind • Where does the mind come from? • Why do we think?
  • The Origin of Thinking • Darwinian paradigm: – It must have evolved from something primordial and it must have evolved because it had a useful function for survival. – The most primordial mind one can think of is a mind that has very basic emotions, possibly only pain and pleasure.
  • The Origins of Thinking • The evolution of emotions – Emotions evolved, as much as any other organ. – Emotions had an evolutionary value, as they helped bodies survive – It is unlikely that humans are the only species with emotions… – ...but it is likely that humans are the species in which emotions evolved in the most spectacular way.
  • The Origins of Thinking • The evolution of tools – Tools relieved us from many daily chores. – Our emotions had been invented to help cope with those chores, but tools made them less and less necessary – Our mind was nonetheless still producing emotions, just like the immune system is producing antibodies all the time – Those emotions flowing through our mind eventually got organized, and yielded thought.
  • The Origins of Thinking • The evolution of thought – Thought eventually yielded a continuous flow of emotions and a concept of the self: consciousness was born. – Consciousness was born because our mind had nothing to do most of the day, and that happened because we invented tools
  • The Origins of Thinking • The evolution of thought – Co-evolution of tools and emotions – At the same time there was evolution of the body – And several scientists would add evolution of language and evolution of memes – They all evolved together (co-evolved). – It was evolution on several parallel tracks.
  • The Origins of Culture • As tools became more and more sophisticated, we also started using them for thinking. For example, language. For example, writing. For example, music. For example, painting, cinema and comics.
  • The Take-over of the Mind • We started identifying with our mind. • We are no longer bodies with some organs that helped the body survive (including a mind) but minds that have a body • If we transplant Helen’s brain to Jim, is Jim getting Helen’s brain or Helen getting Jim’s body?
  • The Mystery of the Mind • So we started wondering where our mind comes from, not just where our body comes from. • Little by little we have been able to rediscover our past, and understand how our mind was created, how "I" was created.
  • The Mystery of the Mind • Unpleasant discoveries – The more we realize that we are mere accidents of evolution. – We are not what we think we are: we do not think, we are thought – We only see and hear and ultimately think what makes sense in our ecological niche. – We are driven by the environment in what we do and what we think
  • The Mystery of the Mind • Unpleasant discoveries – Our mind is recreated all the time, whether we want it or not. – The amount of control over our mental life is extremely low – The brain works all the time, and most of the time we don’t know what it is doing – Most of the cells of the body (including neurons) and most of the connections between the neurons change in one year
  • Creativity • Creativity is something we do because we have to do it. • Our mind is continuously reshaped by the tools we invent, and continuously explores them. • We are always creative or we are never creative: there is no difference between the two processes.
  • Creativity • Our mind has no choice but to create meaning all the time out of the flow of emotions using the tools it has invented. • We are both the creators and the products of our technology.
  • Bibliography Damasio Antonio: DESCARTES' ERROR (1995) Donald Merlin: ORIGINS OF THE MODERN MIND (1991) Edelman Gerald: NEURAL DARWINISM (1987) Gibson James Jerome: THE SENSES CONSIDERED AS PERCEPTUAL SYSTEMS (1966) Jaynes Julian: THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND (1977) Kauffman Stuart: THE ORIGINS OF ORDER (1993) Macphail Euan: THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (1998) Maturana Humberto: AUTOPOIESIS AND COGNITION (1980) Neisser Ulric: COGNITION AND REALITY (1975) Ornstein Robert: EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (1991)
  • Bibliography Penrose Roger: THE EMPEROR'S NEW MIND (1989) Pinker Steven: HOW THE MIND WORKS (1997) Searle John: THE REDISCOVERY OF THE MIND (1992) Stapp Henry: MIND, MATTER AND QUANTUM MECHANICS (1993) Unger Peter: IDENTITY, CONSCIOUSNESS AND VALUE (1991)
  • Bibliography