How does our focused attention relate to what we call “consciousness”? What types of attention are out there, and what are the functions of each type? Professor Michael Graziano explores this and more in his book Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience.
Author Michael Graziano is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, and he has written multiple books on neuroscience, evolution, and human nature. The Graziano Lab at Princeton focuses on the brain basis of consciousness, based on attention schema theory, which was formulated by Professor Graziano.
I talked with Professor Graziano about his book and concepts related to consciousness. The mechanistic approach he brings to the topic is something that I am able to relate with.
what Professor Graziano works on with students in the Graziano lab
how the brain basis of consciousness is studied, and ways that we accept consciousness as defined
what the attention schema theory is, and how the model has two functions for daily living
the way that signals compete with each other in the computational process of attention
how a frog’s form of attention differs from that of a person, and the types of awareness that exist
what “biased competition” is, and and the battle for incoming stimuli to the cortex
why covert and overt attention are both needed, and how they differ
consciousness only being present in a few types of organisms/mammals
the concept of affordance, and how the brain works tirelessly as a prediction machine
why consciousness is defined as a hard problem, and if that difficulty can be usurped with some research method
Understanding risk is an economic way to understand the decisions and systems in our communities and finances. Economist Allison Schrager looks at risk in fields at the more extreme ends of the spectrum, to understand it with less noise in place.
Professor Allison Schrager teaches at NYU, and has a PhD in Economics from Columbia University, with her Bachelors from the University of Edinburgh. She is an economist, journalist at Quartz, and cofounder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC. She has contributed to The Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
what sex work can teach about risk management, and how Allison looked at a specific brothel to understand the value proposition
where in life you have your risks managed, whereas you have them completely ignored in other categories
when to take a risk and when to lean towards the safer option
why you should define what risk and reward mean to you, so that you can take and seek levels complementary to your nature
how to include your human irrationality into your risk modeling
what it takes to get the most bang for your buck in the department of risk-taking
how hedging and insurance are methods used to master your domain
what you can expect in your assessments, and what type of room you need to leave for unanticipated events
where the perspective of the world has gone, in terms of having control of the world you live in
The way that organisms move is a precursor to how robots will map their movements out. Animals can do things like walk on water and climb up vertical surfaces, and knowing how this works is useful. Professor David Hu of Georgia Tech explores these topics in his book How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls.
Professor Hu is Associate Professor of Fluid Mechanics at The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. He runs the Hu Laboratory for Locomotion at his institution. He got his Bachelors and Masters, along with his PhD in Mathematics, at MIT. Most of his research focuses on hydrodynamics and elasticity problems as they relate to biology.
what biolocomotion is involved with, and how evolution has impacted animals and the insect world in terms of movement
why looking at nature is a good way to get ideas for mechanical devices that are more effective or better maintaining
where Professor Hu looked for inspiration, or bioinspiration, to see what the next item of research would be
how insects or animals can walk on water based on surface tension
what kinds of analysis it requires to be able to take a guess regarding locomotion and test it out in terms of basis
how body movements and material properties have to be looked at as a pair to be able to decipher their value
what kinds of animals need to undulate or slither to be able to get the most efficiency for their movement
how some of these advances connect to upcoming robots that are able to touch and move things in a more gentle way than current robots
I was glad to have Professor Hu on the show. He is a personable individual with a good sense of humor. You can check out his book on Amazon, look at his research articles, or look at his lab page.
Biology will reach out to the endless openness, but it will be limited and managed by physics and the equations that govern our universe. In this episode, we discuss with Professor Charles S. Cockell of the University of Edinburgh about topics in his book The Equations of Life.
Before Professor Cockell taught in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, he was a Professor of Geomicrobiology and microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. He got his doctorate in Molecular Biophysics at Oxford University, and has published over 300 scientific papers in the categories of astrobiology, geomicrobiology, and life in extreme environments. As well, he has contributed to plans for Mars exploration.
In my episode with Professor Cockell, we discussed:
Professor Cockell’s fascination with space and biology
the progression he made in his career to the University of Edinburgh
what kind of research he performed in his time at the Antarctic
examining life at the boundaries of what is physically viable
where in our solar system may have opportunity for viability
what kinds of studies Professor Cockell has been part of designing
involving incarcerated individuals in a moon-like confinement study
a ladybug physics project that the professor set for his students
predictability of biology and physics, and thoughts on free will
how the things around us are not so out of place based on the laws
Welcome to episode number 202, with Dr. Robin Hanson, co-author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.
Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master’s degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed and NASA.
On my episode with Dr. Hanson, we discussed topics and tangents connecting off of his blog articles and book messages, including: