Cognition, Isaac Newton, Enlightenment, Roommate, Music

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Bruce Sterling On Cognition

Koert van Mensvoort & Menno Grootveld | Next Nature | 22nd February 2018

Computation and thinking are different things. “We never talk about an augmented cat, a super-intelligent cat. We are stuck in this metaphysical trench where we think it is all about humanity’s states of mind. We humans do not always have conscious states of mind: we sleep at night. Computers don’t have these behaviors. We are elderly, we forget what is going on. We are young, we do not know how to speak yet. That is cognition. You never see a computer that is so young it cannot speak” (1,300 words)

The Oddness Of Isaac Newton

Oliver Moody | TLS | 20th February 2018

Rob Iliffe’s new biography of Isaac Newton, “Priest Of Nature”, argues that Newton’s heretical Christian faith — an idiosyncratic species of Arianism — was at least as important to him as his natural philosophy. “Newton thought of his work as the rediscovery of the original wisdom handed down by God to prehistoric man, the prisca sapientia of the Egyptians, the Pythagoreans and the builders of Stonehenge, which had been deplorably corrupted and distorted by the early Christians” (2,620 words)

Unenlightened Thinking

John Gray | New Statesman | 22nd February 2018

Stephen Pinker’s “embarrassing” new book “Enlightenment Now” claims to be an account of rationalist philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries, but is really a “monumental apologia” for modern liberal thinking. The Enlightenment was an intellectually diverse movement with good and bad outcomes. “To think of the book as any kind of scholarly exercise is a category mistake. With its primitive scientism and manga-style history of ideas, the book is a parody of Enlightenment thinking at its crudest” (2,300 words)

Worst Roommate Ever

William Brennan | New York | 21st February 2018

Tales of the tenant from hell — a deranged lawyer with an “intricate knowledge of tenancy laws” and a gun in the closet. “Bachman was a serial squatter operating on a virtuosic scale, driving roommate after roommate into court and often from their home. He seemed to relish the anguish of those who had taken him. Nothing they did could satisfy or appease him, because the objective was not material gain but, seemingly, the sadistic pleasure of watching them squirm as he displaced them” (6,700 words)

Elements Of Japanese Music

James Nyoraku Schlefer | New Music Box | 22nd February 2018

Western music is mainly about pitch and harmony, whereas Japanese music is mainly about timbre — the texture of the sound. “Pushing the string on the koto to raise the pitch, rather than plucking a neighboring string with the same pitch, results in an almost imperceptible but distinct sound. And the robust pitch of an open hole on the shakuhachi contrasts with meri, the same pitch achieved with a partially covered hole and the lowering of the player’s head” (760 words)

Video of the day The End Of History

What to expect:

By Celia Rowlson-Hall for Miu-Miu. Ironic 1950s-style domestic fantasy (13’07”)

Thought for the day

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get
Robert Heinlein

Podcast of the day When Data Rules The World | FT

Yuval Noah Harari talks to John Thornhill about the rise of the algorithmic intelligence
(26m 15s)

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