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 39 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

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

Deep Convictions, Shallow Roots.

(Being an English edit of a column that appeared in Nowa Fantaskyka a few months back) You’ll remember that I recently returned from a trip to Sweden. While I was there, by a curious coincidence, I happened to read a Swedish study from the Public Library of Science: “Lifting the Veil of Morality: Choice Blindness […]

Posted in: sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 30 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

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

Martin Luther King and the Vampire Rights League

Some of you may remember my ruminations on the evolutionary significance of sociopathy, my tentative musings that it may be not so much a pathology as an adaptation, and my almost pathetic relief (scroll down to Oct 14) when people with actual credentials wonder the same thing and thus make me look like less of […]

Posted in: sentience/cognition, sociobiology by Peter Watts 123 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 […]

Blind Spots

So DARPA’s feeling a little overwhelmed by the blizzard of data at its disposal. All that telemetry. All those intercepted signals. All those eyes in the sky and ears to the ground, sucking up the terabytes so fast they can barely slap new storage into place in time to catch it all. And that’s just […]

Posted in: relevant tech, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 28 Comments