On Norbert Wiener’s ‘God & Golem, Inc.’

While reading Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the history of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Englishers) who had introduced the term Cybernetics as “the study of control and communication in machines and living beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion, and that title immediately caught my eye. Studies of the interaction between science, technology, and religion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jewish folklore, so Wiener had sold it to me easily. […Read more…]

Science Stories: The Mythology of Evolution

Most people will be at least passingly familiar with the ‘war’ between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ that has been a central theme in the history of the West in the past few centuries. My quotes are intentional because each of these concepts is far more complicated than common usage would suggest. The problem is: most, if […Read more…]

2011 Inspirational Reading

Out of the 100 books I read last year, I wanted to highlight a few that I found particularly rewarding. […Read more…]

Some possible principles of cultural evolution

Following is a brief essay on some prin­ciples of evo­lution that could be useful in ana­lysing the spread of ideas, con­cepts, and ideo­logical com­plexes in human cul­ture. While there will be many prac­tical diffe­rences between evo­lution in bio­logical entities and cul­tural ones, some general prin­ciples of evo­lution may per­haps apply to both. […Read more…]

Two recent books on biological, cultural, and spiritual evolution

Over the past few years, I’ve be­come more and more con­vinced that the concept of evo­lution is not only a power­ful ex­plan­ation of chan­ges and patterns in the bio­logic­al world, but also, by exten­sion, of changes and patterns in human cul­ture, or the world of ideas. If the sur­vival of (species of) organ­isms ulti­mately depends on their ability to adapt to ever-changing en­viron­ments, then the same might very well be true of ideas and con­cepts, and I believe it is a fruit­ful line of study to pursue this idea. […Read more…]

Networks: Introduction

A significant part of my current PhD research deals with networks (in my case of human communication), and how these can help us understand the world around us. A network in the modern scientific use of the word is basically an abstract representation of relationships between concepts. It often helps to make a graphic representation […Read more…]