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

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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

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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. ~ Brave New World Aldous Huxley – Brave New World One of the classics of utopian/dystopian fiction, of course, and deserving of the status. Many apt analyses of the novel have been written before, so I [...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. Exactly what type [...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 [...Read more...]

Networks: Introduction

The Seven Bridges of Königsberg

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...]