Big Questions

BIG QUESTIONS – 1

What is a thought? And how can it be understood scientifically?

Is there a biological threshold of complexity for awareness? Is awareness an emergent property or effect of cognitive patterns in animals?

Are there specific transitions in the degree and quality of awareness in nature – such as between species – or is there a smooth scale of variation?

BIG QUESTIONS – 2

Can the tension between reductionist approaches and a focus on emergent properties be turned into meaningful collaboration across disciplines?

Can art, design, and technology enhance and extend scientific inquiry, discovery, and expression?

Do the observations and interpretations of different forms of awareness from Eastern and Western traditions have relevance? If so, can they be phenomenologically separated from their cultural embeddings?

BIG QUESTIONS – 3

How can we discriminate between awareness and information processing?

Can algorithms, robots, the internet, and the Internet of Things ever be aware? Do we want or need them to be aware?

How can scientists, and all people, ask better questions? Can machines ask questions that we can’t yet think of?

BIG QUESTIONS – 4

Is it possible to cultivate or engineer kinds of awareness that can help solve the critical challenges of human inequality, conflict, and environmental impact?

Can information be seen as fundamental as, or perhaps even more fundamental than, matter and energy? If so, what is the relationship between information and awareness or consciousness?