Psychotic Dreams and Strange Extremes

Where do you start with dreams? People say you’re asleep when you dream, but you’re not really; it’s just that the input you’re consciously processing is generated internally, instead of coming from outside. It’s a kind of consciousness that believes the most ridiculous things, though. Your best friend doesn’t look anything like your best friend […]

Posted in: neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 46 Comments

Sleepwalk to Enlightenment

Judging by the number of links I’ve received, a lot of you are already familiar with this paper on consciousness and the claustrum. Or at least you’re familiar with the tsunami of popsci coverage it’s received. For the rest of you, the tale goes something like this:  54-year old female epileptic, seizure-free for four years […]

Posted in: neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 21 Comments

The Heinlein Hormone

You all remember Starship Troopers, right? That slim little YA contained a number of beer-worthy ideas, but the one that really stuck with me was the idea of earned citizenship— that the only people allowed to vote, or hold public office, were those who’d proven they could put society’s interests ahead of their own. Heinlein’s […]

Posted in: biology, neuro, sociobiology by Peter Watts 33 Comments

Anybody Out There Know Anything About Military Law?

No, I’m not in trouble again. I haven’t been talking much lately because I’m facing down four pretty major deadlines that all stomp their big Monty Python Feet down over the next few weeks. Five if you included the deadline I met a few days back, in which I labored to finish a short story […]

Posted in: legal, misc, neuro by Peter Watts 38 Comments

Mind Hives Remastered

So.  The 2013 Aurora Ballot came out a few days ago. Once again, I hadn’t been paying much attention because I didn’t actually publish anything last year.  Once again, I got a phone call telling me that whatever I talked about at last fall’s SpecFic Colloquium got me onto the ballot anyway, under “Best Fan […]

Technepathy

You’ve probably heard about the rat-brain network by now — it showed up in the popsci threads back at the end of February, provoking breathless comparisons with Vulcan mind melds and The Matrix. And I gotta say, the coverage certainly sucked me in: an actual (albeit rudimentary) network of brains, linked together to solve problems? […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 19 Comments

The Windbreaker of Shame.

Back around the turn of the century — when I was old enough to know better, anyway — I answered a knock on the door to find an unfamiliar twentysomething  looking up at me with a disarming seal-pup expression on his face. He’d locked himself out of his car, apparently. He needed $20 to pay […]

Posted in: neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 32 Comments

When Mirror Neurons Go Bad.

A brief, totally context-free excerpt from “Hive Minds and Mind Hives”, the talk I’ll be presenting this Sunday at the SpecFic Colloquium. I’m told that as of several days ago only four tickets remained unsold, so anyone who hasn’t already signed up is probably SOL: Mirror neurons think outside the skull by definition. They’re a […]

Posted in: neuro, public interface by Peter Watts 22 Comments

Fruit Flies, Freeloaders, free will.

For the past few months an image has been itching at the back of my mind, like a piece of grit waiting for a story to accrete around it: a neuron culture in a petri dish, like a rifters head cheese but without any inputs to keep it sparking. We presume that all internal feedback […]

Posted in: neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 43 Comments

Mystery Meat

…being a term generally applied to the entree at South Residence back at the University of Guelph.  This time, though, I’m talking about the mysteries of thinking meat, and a couple of thoughts thereupon which have sprung up elsewhere since I got back. The first is over at ChiZine‘s blog, which is currently running a […]