Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

07 MAY, 2012

The Dalai Lama on Science and Technology

By:

Pain, pleasure, and what sets man apart from machine.

Last month, in response to the impossibly fantastic conversation between Einstein and Indian philosopher Tagore, reader Feña Avila recommended an intriguing collection of conversations between the Dalai Lama and prominent Western scientists across physics, neuroscience, biochemistry, mathematics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive psychology. Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind is an extraordinary exchange of ideas in its entirety, but this particular excerpt from the Dalai Lama’s opening remarks articulates an incredibly important point, one C. P. Snow passionately addressed in 1959 and Jonah Lehrer called a “fourth culture” half a century later.

For quite some time I have had a great interest in the close relationship between Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism, and Western science. My basic aim as a human being is to speak always for the importance of compassion and kindness in order to build a better, healthier human society, and a brighter future.

[…]

Western civilization’s science and technology bring society tremendous benefit. Yet, due to highly developed technology, we also have more anxiety and more fear. I always feel that mental development and material development must be well-balanced, so that together they may make a more human world. If we lose human values and human beings become part of a machine, there is no freedom from pain and pleasure. Without freedom from pain and pleasure, it is very difficult to demarcate between right and wrong. The subjects of pain and pleasure naturally involve feeling, mind, and consciousness.

(This, of course, brings us to the grand question of what consciousness actually is, which is a whole different can of intellectual worms.)

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

30 APRIL, 2012

Between Page and Screen: A Digital Pop-Up Book about Love

By:

What an alphabetical romance has to do with the poetics of geometry and the heart of storytelling.

Pop-up books, with their architectural whimsy and transfixing tactility, are on the bleeding front lines of the analog-to-digital shift as we contemplate the tradeoffs of what is lost as we gain the convenience and mutability of digital text. But this needn’t be the case. From poet-developer duo Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse, and Siglio Press, comes Between Page and Screen — a remarkable “digital pop-up book” that tells the love story of the letters P and S through minimalist, wordless black-and-white geometric patterns that spring to life and summon the text when looked at through a webcam. You suddenly see yourself projected on the screen, holding in your hands the paper pages from which the living language of digital text unfolds into the story. And what a story it is — full of wordplay and innuendo, the narrative flows with equal parts humor and poetic sophistication as words morph into one another with your every movement, a visceral metaphor for the longing of the two alphabetical lovers.

At once contrasting and complementing the augmented reality technology is an exquisite original book, letterpress-printed and hand-bound on fine press paper. What emerges is a beautiful meditation on where the heart of a book really resides — in the medium, be that page or screen, or in the reader’s experience and imagination.

It might be tempting to dismiss augmented reality as a gimmick — because anyone who’s been living on this side of the digital divide has seen her share of gimmicky AR — but in Between Page and Screen, it becomes a poetic device, seeking to reignite in us grown-ups that giddy excitement we once felt as we opened our very first childhood pop-up book. On a deeper level, it’s a meditation on duality — page and screen, object and subject, materiality and ephemerality, the stern, black-and-white rigidity of the geometric shapes and the soft fluidity of love.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

25 APRIL, 2012

The Sky Is Calling Us: A Cinematic Love Letter to Space Exploration

By:

“…if we ignore the calls of the sky, who then will draw the maps of the universe?”

Our voyage into space, propelled by equal parts curiosity and awe, is among humanity’s bravest quests and most rewarding leaps of the imagination. Carl Sagan knew it. Neil deGrasse Tyson knows it. We believe it. And yet the future of space exploration is more precarious than ever. From University of Oregon copywriter Nickolaus Sugai and interaction designer Lauren Geschke comes this poignant, poetic piece of video poetry, a kind of love letter to NASA posing a difficult question that we as a culture and a society must answer.

…because if we ignore the calls of the sky, who then will draw the maps of the universe?

Visit theskyiscalling.us to tell Congress you want more of your taxpayer money diverted to space exploration. For a deeper look at the politics of the issue and just what’s at stake, see Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.