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OC ACXLW Sat April 13 Consciousness and The Dictatorship of the Small Minority

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 61st Orange County ACX/LW meetup, happening this Saturday and most Saturdays after that.

Host: Michael Michalchik

Email: (For questions or requests)

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place

(949) 375-2045

Date: Saturday, April 13 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starters:

  1. Your Book Review: Consciousness And The Brain: A review of Stanislas Dehaene's book "Consciousness and the Brain", which explores the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness. The book discusses the differences between conscious and unconscious processing, the neural signatures of consciousness, and theories of consciousness such as the Global Neuronal Workspace.

Summary: Dehaene's book delves into the neuroscience of consciousness, distinguishing between conscious and unconscious processes in the brain. He proposes that conscious perception occurs when information is globally broadcast and processed by multiple brain regions, leading to reportability and self-monitoring. Unconscious processing, on the other hand, is more localized and cannot be reported or used for complex tasks requiring working memory. Dehaene discusses various theories of consciousness, such as the Global Neuronal Workspace, Integrated Information Theory, and the Multiple Drafts Model, and presents evidence from experiments using techniques like masking and neuroimaging. The book also touches on the philosophical implications of the research, such as the hard problem of consciousness and the prospect of machine consciousness.

Text link:

Audio link:

Questions for discussion:

a) How does Dehaene's Global Neuronal Workspace theory account for the differences between conscious and unconscious processing? What are the key neural signatures of conscious perception according to this theory?

b) Dehaene argues that consciousness is necessary for tasks requiring working memory, such as complex reasoning and decision-making. What are the implications of this view for our understanding of human cognition and the potential for machine consciousness?

c) The book suggests that many animals, particularly mammals, are likely to be conscious in ways similar to humans. What are the ethical implications of this view? How should it inform our treatment of animals and our understanding of their cognitive and emotional lives?

  1. The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: An essay discussing how a small, intolerant minority can disproportionately influence and dictate the choices and behaviors of the majority in various domains, such as religion, politics, and markets.

Text link:

Questions for discussion:

a) In what ways does the "minority rule" described by Taleb differ from the traditional understanding of democratic decision-making? What are the implications of this rule for the functioning of societies and institutions?

b) Taleb provides several examples of how the preferences of a small, intolerant minority can determine the options available to the majority, such as in the case of Kosher food or allergen-free environments. Can you think of other examples where this dynamic plays out, either in your personal life or in the broader society?

c) How might the "minority rule" contribute to the polarization and gridlock in contemporary politics? What strategies, if any, could be employed to mitigate the negative effects of this dynamic while still respecting individual rights and preferences?

Walk & Talk: We usually have an hour-long walk and talk after the meeting starts. Two mini-malls with hot takeout food are readily accessible nearby. Search for Gelson's or Pavilions in the zip code 92660.

Share a Surprise: Tell the group about something unexpected that changed your perspective on the universe.

Future Direction Ideas: Contribute ideas for the group's future direction, including topics, meeting types, activities, etc.



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