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

A Mirror.

Spoiler Warning: pretty much this whole post, if you haven’t yet seen Ex Machina. Then again, even if you haven’t seen Ex Machina, some of you might want to be spoiled. I know I would. So. In the wake of that slurry o’sewage that was Age of Ultron, how does Ex Machina stack up? I […]

Posted in: ink on art by Peter Watts 39 Comments

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

“Believe me.” Moore smiled faintly. “There are worse things than extended unconsciousness.” “Your zombie switch.” It was out before he could stop it. The Colonel didn’t say anything for a very long time. Then: “Just as a general rule, you probably shouldn’t take everything Sengupta says as gospel.” “Okay,” Brüks said slowly. “What about that […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, fiblet by Peter Watts 22 Comments

PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness

It’s Saturday night. I could be drinking now. I should be drinking now; a friend of mine has been liberated from his wife and larva for the weekend— a greater cause for celebration than he’ll admit publicly— and I should be out there helping him kill brain cells. And yet I have chosen to stay […]

Time Considered as a Helix of Semiprecious Tones: or, an Rx for World Peace

Fascinating popsci piece on synaesthesia over at the BBC.  It turns out that your common garden-variety hearing-colors/seeing-music synaesthete is only the tip of the iceberg. There are people out there who can literally see time, as a multicolored ribbon winding about them in mid-air. There are folks who perceive letters or numbers as personality types, […]

Posted in: biology, neuro by Peter Watts 29 Comments

Dr. Fox and the Borg Collective

Take someone’s EEG as they squint really hard and think Hello. Email that brainwave off to a machine that’s been programmed to respond to it by tickling someone else’s brain with a flicker of blue light. Call the papers. Tell them you’ve invented telepathy. Or: teach one rat to press a lever when she feels […]

Posted in: neuro, relevant tech by Peter Watts 15 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