Showing posts from June, 2008

Gauss Professorship

Every year, the Göttingen Academy of Sciences (Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) elects a Gauss Professor (Gauß-Professur der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) to honour the memory of the great scientist . Normally, the Professorship is awarded to an "importat scientist in one of Gauss' fields of interest". So, no philosopher has been elected so far. They just made an exception. Next year, I will be their Gauss Professor, in recognition of my work on the philosophy of information. An overwhelming honour, but very exciting. No teaching, complete freedom of research and great support. Shame on me if I do not make the most of such a privilege. I better start revising my German.

Download Day

Why not?

Joseph Weizenbaum (8 January 1923 - March 5, 2008)

I recently tried to invite Weizenbaum to contribute to a book comprising interviews with some of the key researchers in the area of Philosophy of Computing and Information . Sadly, it was not going to happen. Sometimes invitations arrive too late. Weizenbaum will be remembered for several achievements, including being the father of ELIZA and the author of the very influential Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment To Calculation.

Wiki-debate for the European Conference on Computing and Philosophy

The International European Conference on Computing and Philosophy (E-CAP) 2008 will start tomorrow (Monday 16th) and last until Wednesday 18th, see If you cannot attend in person, this Wiki-debate allows participants to read and comment on the abstract of all papers that will be presented at the conference. Wiki-debate is found at and a tutorial is available on-line. To be able to post annotations and comments, you will need to log in. Your username and password are both case sensitive and are as follows: user: IACAP Password: IACAP IACAP's recommendation is to use Firefox as a web browser.


Wiki only in Portughese , sorry, but here is the full story about inforgs from TidBITS , and here a blog on what "infosphere" may mean.

Wiener and Turing

As suspected, references to the contacts between Wiener and Turing, especially through Von Neumann (who seemed to miss no opportunity to advertise Turing's brilliant work) can be found fairly easily (see for example The Essential Turing ). "In the spring of 1947, Wiener went to England, where he visited the British computer-building projects, and spoke with Alan Turing." ( note ) interesting... (see previous blog)

Information R/evolution

Better blog it before I forget. Enjoy it.

The Human Use of Human Beings

Last week, I needed to check a quotation from Wiener's classic The Human Use of Human Beings , which sounded slightly incorrect. It turned out to be an interesting but fabricated synthesis. The good thing was that I had to browse through the book, to see whether the author had actually quoted a passage from a different page. He hadn't, but I ended up re-reading the whole book. It was impossible to put it down again. I had read Wiener as a graduate student, and had a rather distorted interpretation of his work. Or perhaps, now I can distort him more fruitfully to fit my less immature ideas. Some of the chapters contain some ideas that are not terribly interesting, but most of the volume is a must. Don't miss it. Really. It's is far better than any philosophy I've been able to browse at Blackwell's in recent times. With the insight of sixty years of computer revolution, what Wiener was able to see and predict in the fifties is not only amazing but also very in

The Fourth Revolution

If you wish to look & listen to the presentation I gave on "The Fourth Revolution", you may go to: Username : hea Password : welcome Unfortunately, it seems that the program does not work with Firefox but only IE. You can also use RealPlayer. More information on the program here. As for the talk, in it I argue that recent technological transformations in the life-cycle of information have brought about a fourth revolution , in the long process of reassessing humanity’s fundamental nature and role in the universe. We are not immobile, at the centre of the universe (Copernicus); we are not unnaturally distinct and different from the rest of the animal world (Darwin); and we are far from being entirely transparent to ourselves (Freud). We are now slowly accepting the idea that we might be informational organisms among many agents (Turing), inforgs not so dramatically different from clever, engineered artefacts, but sharing with them