357: Philip C. Ball – Understanding Ourselves And Other Beings In “The Book Of Minds”


How do we think about minds that are not human? How do we look at recent efforts in technology that have come out with platforms able to compete with humans on certain tasks? Science writer Philip C. Ball joins us on episode 357 of The Armen Show to discuss these topics from his book The Book of Minds: How to Understand Ourselves and Other Beings, from Animals to AI to Aliens.

“Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked previously at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.

Philip is the author of many popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, the science of social and political philosophy, the cognition of music, and physics in Nazi Germany. He has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to scientific and general audiences at venues ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to the NASA Ames Research Center, London’s National Theatre and the London School of Economics.

Philip continues to write regularly for Nature. He has contributed to publications ranging from New Scientist to the New York Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times and New Statesman. He is a contributing editor of Prospect magazine (for which he writes a science blog), and also a columnist for Chemistry WorldNature Materials, and the Italian science magazine Sapere. He has broadcast on many occasions on radio and TV, and is a presenter of “Science Stories” on BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, sits on the editorial board of Chemistry World and Interdiscipinary Science Reviews, and is a board member of the RESOLV network on solvation science at the Ruhr University of Bochum.

Philip has a BA in Chemistry from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Physics from the University of Bristol.”

“Understanding the human mind and how it relates to the world that we experience has challenged philosophers for centuries. How then do we even begin to think about ‘minds’ that are not human? In recent decades, the mind – both human and otherwise – has been explored by scientists in fields ranging from zoology to astrobiology, computer science to neuroscience.

Taking a uniquely broad view of minds and where they might be found – including in plants, aliens, and God – The Book of Minds pulls these multidisciplinary pieces together. In so doing, it offers for the first time a unified way of thinking about what minds are and what they can do, arguing that in order to understand our own minds and imagine those of others, we need to move on from considering the human mind as a standard against which all others should be measured.”

Links: Personal Website | Philip’s Books | The Book of Minds on Amazon | Twitter


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