Internet Democracy @ BYOB Party in Jan 2020 (Part 5)

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Ralph spoke about The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. “It’s the ideal book to read in times such as these,” he said. The book which is freely available dissects the technological market which primarily has two business models: generative and non-generative.

“The author has used the word ‘privacy’ 100 times, shut down 6 times, ‘Malaware’ 22 times, ‘Creative Commons’ 20 times, ‘authoritarian’ 4 times and ‘India’ 10 times. We need to understand that the internet was not designed to create a democratic entity but more keeping researchers in mind. Governments were never in the picture when the internet was created. I for one never thought that the internet could shut down. It seemed like something that would go on forever but now the possibility of a shutdown exists- there’s a dystopia for you!”

And with that, we come to the end of the BYOB Party in January 2020.

Evolution and the Neocortex @ BYOB Party in Feb 2019 (Part 3)

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Samarth talked about a book that he had read a long time ago since he is hard-pressed for reading time these days. Why evolution is true by Jerry A. Coyne, an American biologist, is an important book in times like these, especially when the debate about creationism is commonplace. “What’s the need for such a book?” Samarth asked. “We don’t have a book on germ theory as it seems pretty self-evident except in some strange cases- like the Fox host who refused to wash his hands for ten years as he couldn’t see the germs or the terrorist organization that refutes the idea of evaporation since it is a western concept. But evolution is not like that. It has to be understood.”

Statistics show that evolution is not accepted by a large majority in the US. Many think that evolution should be bunched up with other alternate theories. Darwin wasn’t the first to postulate the theory but his research provided the evidence needed to firm up the theory of natural selection.

Abhaya rationalized that though many of the readers in the room believed in Darwinism, their views were not always backed by understanding. The debate turned completely scientific and we landed on many subjects from Lamarck’s behaviorism and Darwin’s Natural Selection to biomimicry and the God particle.

Incidentally, the name God particle has been much criticized for referring to the very idea of God that the scientific community has been trying to disprove.

Image result for straw dogs bookHarshit spoke about a book called Straw Dogs by the philosopher John Gray. Gray questions Western philosophy from Plato to Marx and argues against the superiority complex embedded in human DNA. What makes humans think they are any better than animals? You might find this interview with Gray interesting.

The conversation mutated and evolved into varying subtexts – the fundamental difference between humans and other species- the neocortex. Listen to what a neuroscientist has to say about the brain systems –reptilian, limbic and neocortex. Then the discussion veered to IQ ratios, the decline of motor skills, how digital devices influence memory, loss of handwriting and how the brain declutters by default.

One book that could lead to a better understanding about how the internet is rewiring the brain is The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.

More books and eye-opening discussions in Part 4.