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Andrew Smart


Author of Beyond Zero and One & Autopilot, on natural human creativity & intelligence.

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Praise for Andrew Smart...

  • “Andrew Smart deftly shows why it’s time for us to think deeply about thinking machines before they begin thinking deeply about us.”

    –Douglas Rushkoff

  • “A tour de force of an academic field that doesn’t really exist just yet – the science of being idle. Andrew Smart synthesizes a whole range of cutting-edge ideas in neuroscience, dynamic systems theory, psychology, literature, pop culture, and philosophy, and gives us a hugely entertaining read about what we do most of the time, i.e. nothing. Autopilot finishes with the most stimulating and provocative ideas about who we really are, reflections on what our society has come to, and how to fix it. If you are to read one pop science book this year, this should be it.”

    –Prof. Hakwan Lau, Columbia University

Andrew Smart: Speech Topics


① NEUROSCIENCE OF IDLENESS | ② BENEFITS OF NOISE & RANDOMNESS | ③ MACHINE CONSCIOUSNESS | ④ ROBOTS ON ACID

① The Neuroscience of Idleness


Neuroscience over the last fifteen years has discovered something remarkable about the human brain that is almost totally ignored by business and society: it is more active when we are not. The brain has a default mode network which lights up whenever we space out, relax or don’t have anything in particular to do. This network connects to almost every region of the brain and is central to coming up with novel ideas and self-knowledge. But the only way to utilize this brain hub is to put away your schedule and your to-do list, and relax. Andrew Smart argues that in order to really develop our brains potential we need to do nothing much more often.

② The Benefits of Noise and Randomness


Noise is almost universally thought of bad or a nuisance. But there are many cases in which the right amount of noise helps. An incredible phenomenon called stochastic resonance turns out to be fundamental to how many biological creatures function in a very noisy world. Mr. Smart argues that changing our prejudice and fear of randomness can reveal counter-intuitive ways to take advantage of nature’s most prevalent resource: noise.

③ Machine Consciousness


The field of Artificial Intelligence has been trying to replicate the cognitive and mental capabilities of humans since the dawn of the digital age in the 1950’s. Early optimism about being able to create conscious robots within a few decades was quickly dispelled when the vast complexities of human cognition began to be understood. Today, with the rise of “big-data” and ever more powerful computers, companies like Google are leading a new wave of artificial intelligence that has renewed confidence in our ability to create machine consciousness. But, Andrew Smart argues, the quest for artificial consciousness might still be missing a few things. This talk explores the central role that hallucinations could play in both human and machine consciousness.

④ Robots on Acid: Machines, Subjectivity and Consciousness


Can we build a robot that trips on acid? This is not a frivolous question, according to neuroscientist Andrew Smart. If we can’t, he argues, we haven’t really created artificial intelligence. This talk draws on the history of mathematics, philosophy, and digital technology, and challenges fundamental assumptions underlying artificial intelligence. Is the human brain based on computation? Can information alone explain human consciousness and intelligence? How smart can machines get without subjective points of view and consciousness?


Andrew Smart: Books


Beyond Zero and One: Machines, Psychedelics, and Consciousness

Smart convincingly makes the case that true intelligence, and artificial intelligence, requires an appreciation of what is beyond the computational … ➡︎
Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing

Andrew Smart wants you to sit and do nothing much more often - and he has the science to explain why … ➡︎

Andrew Smart: Bio



      

Andrew Smart is the author of Beyond Zero and One: Machines, Psychedelics and Consciousness, which convincingly makes the case that true intelligence, and artificial intelligence, requires an appreciation of what is beyond the computational. His first book is Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing which explores what our brains are doing when we are idle. The book challenges the current cult of productivity and argues that creativity and insight require idleness.

Autopilot has been translated into four languages and has been written about at CNN, Forbes, The Independent, Slate, The New Statesman and many foreign publications. Mr. Smart’s writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Switch & Shift and Quartz. He has also published several papers in academic journals.

Mr. Smart has a B.S. and M.S. degrees in cognitive science from Lund University in Sweden. He has worked as a research scientist at New York University and Honeywell Aerospace. His interests comprise the benefits of noise for cognition, consciousness and idleness. He currently does research in the area of human-computer interaction.

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ANDREW SMART


Author of Beyond Zero and One & Autopilot, on natural human creativity & intelligence.

SPEECH TOPICS

① The Neuroscience of Idleness

Neuroscience over the last fifteen years has discovered something remarkable about the human brain that is almost totally ignored by business and society: it is more active when we are not. The brain has a default mode network which lights up whenever we space out, relax or don’t have anything in particular to do. This network connects to almost every region of the brain and is central to coming up with novel ideas and self-knowledge. But the only way to utilize this brain hub is to put away your schedule and your to-do list, and relax. Andrew Smart argues that in order to really develop our brains potential we need to do nothing much more often.
② The Benefits of Noise and Randomness

Noise is almost universally thought of bad or a nuisance. But there are many cases in which the right amount of noise helps. An incredible phenomenon called stochastic resonance turns out to be fundamental to how many biological creatures function in a very noisy world. Mr. Smart argues that changing our prejudice and fear of randomness can reveal counter-intuitive ways to take advantage of nature’s most prevalent resource: noise.
③ Machine Consciousness

The field of Artificial Intelligence has been trying to replicate the cognitive and mental capabilities of humans since the dawn of the digital age in the 1950’s. Early optimism about being able to create conscious robots within a few decades was quickly dispelled when the vast complexities of human cognition began to be understood. Today, with the rise of “big-data” and ever more powerful computers, companies like Google are leading a new wave of artificial intelligence that has renewed confidence in our ability to create machine consciousness. But, Andrew Smart argues, the quest for artificial consciousness might still be missing a few things. This talk explores the central role that hallucinations could play in both human and machine consciousness.
④ Robots on Acid: Machines, Subjectivity and Consciousness

Can we build a robot that trips on acid? This is not a frivolous question, according to neuroscientist Andrew Smart. If we can’t, he argues, we haven’t really created artificial intelligence. This talk draws on the history of mathematics, philosophy, and digital technology, and challenges fundamental assumptions underlying artificial intelligence. Is the human brain based on computation? Can information alone explain human consciousness and intelligence? How smart can machines get without subjective points of view and consciousness?
BOOKS




BIO


[PRESS KIT]

Andrew Smart is the author of Beyond Zero and One: Machines, Psychedelics and Consciousness, which convincingly makes the case that true intelligence, and artificial intelligence, requires an appreciation of what is beyond the computational. His first book is Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing which explores what our brains are doing when we are idle. The book challenges the current cult of productivity and argues that creativity and insight require idleness.

Autopilot has been translated into four languages and has been written about at CNN, Forbes, The Independent, Slate, The New Statesman and many foreign publications. Mr. Smart’s writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Switch & Shift and Quartz. He has also published several papers in academic journals.

Mr. Smart has a B.S. and M.S. degrees in cognitive science from Lund University in Sweden. He has worked as a research scientist at New York University and Honeywell Aerospace. His interests comprise the benefits of noise for cognition, consciousness and idleness. He currently does research in the area of human-computer interaction.


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