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Exploring The Revelations with Erik Hoel
June 26, 2021 at 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
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In this Interintellect salon, Taylor Pullinger will host a conversation with Erik Hoel, inspired his recently published novel The Revelations.
” Somewhere, lost in that tower of Babel, that library of Borges, was the theory of consciousness. The one and only correct theory an infinitesimal needle in an infinite haystack. To see a glimpse… It would fit in how many English words, how many sentences? Half a paragraph, for those with the right vocabulary? Would it use information theory? Thermodynamical work? Autopoietic symbol construction? Algorithmic complexity? Computation? Symbolic recursion? Stacking of hierarchical receptive fields all the way up to grandmother neurons? Quantum physics? ”
Together, we will explore the many themes and ideas nestled in the book. What is consciousness and where does it come from? Where is the right place to even start looking for answers to these fundamental questions, and should we do whatever it takes even if that means inflicting violence?
More than just a compendium of consciousness research, The Revelations looks at complex interactions on a larger scale. Prompted by the novel’s bustling New York City setting, we’ll examine the life of the city, emergent from the comings and goings of its inhabitants. How are the lives of those inhabitants intertwined? Our life paths are shaped by our choices and the choices made by others, but when those choices influence one another can any outcome be certain? When is a decision permanent? When can we backtrack?
An Interintellect salon would never be complete without getting a little meta. It is rare to find a book like The Revelations that so skillfully weaves cutting-edge scientific research into a compelling fictional story. We’ll discuss approaches to bridging the ravine between science and the humanities, and ways to introduce technical ideas to a wider audience, uniting the scientific with the aesthetic.
It isn’t required, but if you’d like to read The Revelations ahead of the salon you can find it here or here. Alternatively, there are two excerpts in the reading list as a taste.
Excerpts from The Revelations:
- The Two Cultures essay by C.P. Snow
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