Alva Noë

Alva Noë is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. He is writer and a philosopher who works on the nature of mind and human experience.

Noë received his PhD from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has recently begun a performative-lecture collaboration with Deborah Hay. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.

He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); and most recently, Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). He is now at work on a book about art and human nature.

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11:29am

Fri January 23, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Ethics Of The 'Singularity'

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 9:31 am

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Some people argue that we will one day reach a point when our machines, which will have become smarter than us, will be able themselves to make machines that are smarter than them. Superintelligence — an intelligence far-outreaching what we are in a position even to imagine — will come on the scene. We will have attained what is known, in futurist circles, as the "singularity." The singularity is coming. So some people say.

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5:28am

Fri January 16, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Making A Brain Map That We Can Use

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It is now conventional wisdom that the brain is the seat of the mind; it is alone through the brain's workings that we think and feel and know.

But what is a brain, anyway?

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9:14am

Fri January 9, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Biased Eye

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Recent events give us occasion to think hard about racial stereotypes and the way they may bias even the unprejudiced mind.

Studies have shown that prejudice can operate in us covertly. Even people who openly reject racial prejudice, for example, may express prejudice in the way they react to situations. Prejudice can operate, in the language of social science, implicitly (or unconsciously).

Remarkably, this sort of implicit bias can affect even the way we see.

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8:17am

Tue December 30, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

In Search Of A Science Of Consciousness

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 1:43 pm

Any color you choose can be matched by a mixture of short, medium and long wavelength light (i.e., blue, green and red light). This perceptual observation led to the formulation, early in the 19th century, of a neurophysiological hypothesis: The eye contains three kinds of distinct color-sensitive receptors (cones); just as colors themselves can be composed of lights of different spectral character, so we can see the vast range of visible color thanks to the joint operation of only three distinct kinds of receptors.

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6:34am

Fri December 12, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Do People Like To Think?

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:37 pm

Visitors look at the restored statue The Thinker by Auguste Rodin at the Singer Laren museum in 2011.
Toussaint Kluiters AFP/Getty Images

When I was a kid, I used to lie in bed at night listening to Mets games on the transistor radio, or to the top 40. Sunday evenings were hard because there was no baseball and most of the music stations went to talk.

As I got older, I came to take comfort in the talk. I learned to love Father Bill Ayers' call-in show late on New York's WPLJ.

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3:54pm

Fri November 21, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Artificial Intelligence, Really, Is Pseudo-Intelligence

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 5:14 pm

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One reason I'm not worried about the possibility that we will soon make machines that are smarter than us, is that we haven't managed to make machines until now that are smart at all. Artificial intelligence isn't synthetic intelligence: It's pseudo-intelligence.

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11:50am

Fri November 7, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What Is That Guy Doing, Anyway?

Originally published on Sat November 8, 2014 8:09 am

Can you tell language from non-language? Meaning from noise? Words from random movement or sound?

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5:44am

Fri October 31, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Three Cheers For The Instant Replay

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 4:25 pm

Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants celebrate winning Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
David J. Phillip AP

The Giants challenged a call in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night. It took the umpiring crew — in conference with the umpires holed up in the video monitoring station in New York City's Chelsea district — almost three minutes to overturn the on-field decision. They called the runner out at first, giving the Giants a potentially game-changing double play.

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4:34pm

Fri October 17, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What Art, And The Game Telephone, Teach Us About Copying

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 7:21 pm

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In the game of Telephone, a message gets repeated from person to person in a chain. By the time it comes around again, it's been transformed.

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4:46pm

Fri October 10, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Can't Dutee Run?

Dragan Trifunovic iStockphoto

The case of Dutee Chand — the Indian sprinter who has been banned from competing as a woman because she has naturally high levels of androgen — casts international sport in a bad light.

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