Impossible Things RISE 2009

Five Impossible Things Before Lunch RISE fall 2009 (Tuesdays 9AM-10:30) v3

Jim Isaak – facilitator/agitator -- posted on web at:

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Alice in Wonderland (The White Queen)

Context – the world is changing (maybe you noticed)

See “Did you know” for some painful insight.

feedback from creator Karl Fisch:

And what will change everything? the 2009 question

Try to view or read the ** items before our class (the rest are all optional)

1. Memes – the concept, of a concept

a. Books

i. Richard Dawkins: “The Selfish Gene”

ii. Susan Blackmore: “The Meme Machine”

b. TED

i. ** Susan Blackmore on Memes and Memeitics

ii. Daniel Dennett – Dangerous Memes

iii. Seth Godin - Tribes we lead (spreading memes)

iv. Diane Benscoter on cults and viral memes

2. Consciousness

a. Books:

i. Ian Steward & Jack Cohen: “Figments of Reality”; related keynote from Jack:

ii. Jeff Hawkins: “On Intelligence”

iii. Douglas Hofstadter: “The Minds Eye” (collection of related short stories)

b. TED:

i. **Jeff Hawkins – Brains

ii. Daniel Dennett – consciousness

iii. Michael Pollan - the plant/animal view of humanity

iv. Jill Bolte taylor, Stroke of insight

c. Other resources

i. Nova Now: Emergence:

3. Happiness and being in the zone

a. Books

i. Michaly Csikszentmihalyi: “Flow”

ii. Richard Layard: Happiness : Lessons from a new science

b. TED:

i. **Michaly Csikszentmihalyi --

ii. Nancy Etcoff – Happiness and why we want it

iii. Matthieu Richard – meditation & mind control

iv. Dan Gilbert, Synthetic Happiness

c. Other Resources

i. Richard Layard’s happiness lectures:

a. What is happiness? Are we getting happier? –

b. Income and happiness: rethinking economic policy--

c. How can we make a happier society? --

4. Intelligent, Conscious Computers, and the Singularity

a. Books & articles:

i. Ray Kurzweil: “Spiritual Machines”

ii. The Coming Technological Singularity (1993), Vernor Vinge

iii. Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett, The mind's I: fantasies and reflections on self and soul

(a delightful collection of short stories in this area)

iv. Discover Magazine, Oct. 2009 issue article on Artificial Brain development

b. TED

i. Kevin Kelly, Evolution of Technology

ii. Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity University, and How Technology will Transform Us


iii. Juan Enriquez; the ultimate reboot (with some initial critique on the economy – but keep watching!)

5. Practical Immortality & Transhumanism

a. Books

i. Ben Bova: Immortality: How Science Is Extending Your Life Span and Changing the World

ii. Ray Kurzweil : "Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever."

iii. Vernor Vinge: “Vinge on the Singularity” (short article on the web)


b. TED

i. Aubey de Grey – Defeating Aging


c. Other

i. The Quest for Immortality; 60 Minutes, CBS News; 2006

ii. Nova Science Now on Aging :

6. Epilogue (watch web site for additions)

a. TED:

i. Gregory Stock; BioEthics – To Upgrade is Human

ii. Greg Petsko – Neurological impact of extended lifespan (even without immortality)

iii. Richard Dawkins – Our universe is queerer than you can imagine: