What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. In this BIT, Koch argues that consciousness is a fundamental property of networked entities, and rhapsodizes about integrated information theory—how it explains many puzzling facts about consciousness and provides a blueprint for building sentient machines.
Bestselling author Steven Pinker’s early works on language acquisition have become classics in cognitive science. This BIT offers Pinker’s look back at this work and two pivotal chapters from Learnability and Cognition.
In South Korea, online gaming is a cultural phenomenon. Games are broadcast on television, professional gamers are celebrities, and youth culture is often identified with online gaming. This BIT examines the working conditions of professional gamers in the high-pressure world of the Korean online gaming industry.
Fund manager and former corporate buyout specialist Travis Bradford argues—on the basis of standard business and economic forecasting models—that over the next two decades solar energy will increasingly become the best and cheapest choice for most electricity and energy applications. In this BIT, Bradford provides the basic facts about solar energy and describes a variety of economic and political incentives that would encourage its use.
Can there be a Buddhism without karma, nirvana, and reincarnation that is compatible with the rest of knowledge—a “naturalized” Buddhism? In this BIT, Flanagan connects Buddhist wisdom to the compassion and lovingkindness that Buddhism endorses—linking Buddhism’s metaphysics to its ethics.
From an essential text for the aspiring architect, this BIT offers realistic, unvarnished advice. A practicing architect and planner, professor of architecture, and architecture columnist offers reasons for becoming an architect (including “creative and intellectual fulfillment,” “love of drawing—without a computer,” and “immortality”) as well as reasons for not becoming an architect (including “lack of work,” “competition,” and “ego vulnerability”).
Why does rationality matter for democracy? In this BIT, Michael Lynch offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era of widespread skepticism. Lynch investigates how our reason is affected by emotion and intuition, discussing, among other things, fMRIs of the brains of George Bush supporters, the Platonist ideal of reason, and Huck Finn’s moral dilemma.
While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitive science, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this BIT, Anthony Chemero maps the evolution of a nonrepresentational, dynamical, ecological cognitive science and introduces radical embodied cognition.
Political controversies over scientific issues ranging from global warming to biotechnology demonstrate how closely politics today is intertwined with science. This BIT offers insights into how to democratize science without undermining its potential contribution to society, considering the flaws of representative democracy and politicization of science.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal is a towering figure in the history of science. Hailed today as the father of modern anatomy and neurobiology, he was largely responsible for the modern conception of the brain. Advice for a Young Investigator, first published in 1897, offers a witty and anecdotal guide for scientists that can be enjoyed by both novice and veteran researchers. In this BIT, Ramón y Cajal considers what it takes to be a successful scientific investigator.