The Edge World Question 2011

The Edge World Question 2011 was “What scientific concept would improve evrybody’s cognitive toolkit.

There were many interesting and intelligent answers from the hive mind. Also divergent.

Particularly noticed the following:

Brian Eno’s answer is, Ecology and concluded, “When we realise that the cleaners and the bus drivers and the primary school teachers are as much a part of the story as the professors and the celebrities, we will start to accord them the respect they deserve.

Neri Oxman responds, It Ain’t Necessarily So and she questions ‘reality’. She then references Gershwin’s song to remind us all that “ Still, it is worth remembering to take your Gospel with a grain of salt because, sometimes, it ain’t nessa, ain’t nessa, it ain’t necessarily so.

James Croak replies, Bricoleur and describing the acceptance of the loss of the master narrative and contemporary disinterest in the ‘isms’, writes “The common prediction was that the loss of grand narrative would result in a descent into end-of-history purposelessness, instead everywhere the Bricoleurs are busy manufacturing meaning-eliciting metaphor“.

Nicholass Car warns, Cognitive Load and cautions us about the potential ramifications of our digital wide broadcast culture. Are humans reaching the real world limits of our cognitive capacities? Either way, “it’s important to remember that, when it comes to the way your brain works, information overload is not just a metaphor; it’s a physical state.

Hans Ulrich Obrist chooses, To Curate and notes that given the level of data and experience available, finding, filtering or curation is key. Moreover, is the chance that these sorts of relational structures can provide a new path forward for society, “Selection, presentation, and conversation are ways for human beings to create and exchange real value, without dependence on older, unsustainable processes. Curating can take the lead in pointing us towards this crucial importance of choosing.

Daniel Goleman selects, Anthropocene Thinking and points out that what contemporary humans really lack is a contemporary conception of danger. Meaning that, “Anthropocene thinking tells us the problem is not necessarily inherent in the systems like commerce and energy that degrade nature; hopefully these can be modified to become self-sustaining with innovative advances and entrepreneurial energy. The real root of the Anthropocene dilemma lies in our neural architecture.” Here an awareness of deep human behavior and not the lack of hard science is the larger problem.

Finally, Jaron Lanier offers up, Cumulative Error and argues that the contemporary networked information age and culture is dangerous. Errors may result or, “A joke isn’t funny anymore if it’s repeated too much. It is urgent for the cognitive fallacy of Platonic information to be universally acknowledged, and for information systems to be designed to reduce cumulative error.


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