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Our Mind Looks at Us (Invited Paper)

Jeremy Horne and Robert M. L. Baker Jr.


Over the years, especially since 1947 when the pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine unidentified disk-shaped aircraft flying near Mount Rainier, people have been fascinated with unidentified flying objects. Partially in response to this increasing interest, and perhaps because of a general malaise of the population wanting to escape from this planet and its problems to another and more pristine world, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was born in 1984. Aside from the inherent problems in receiving messages by current SETI methods, there are other and more substantial issues having to do with identifying the life forms that may be encountered. Such questions exist as what constitutes intelligence, our ability to recognize it, and above all, how we can incorporate the experience in our lives. Humans are encased in their own bias, and we ask whether meeting a non-human intelligence, either one of our own creation or in interstellar space would be a way of getting outside that bias and looking at ourselves from a dispassionate point of view. Thus, our theme emerges: “Our Mind Looks at Us.” An overarching consideration in all of this and one immediately relevant to the International Institute of Informatics and Systemics (IIIS) is that of interdisciplinary communication. This is involved in two ways: First, there is the challenge of communication with an other intelligence. Second, is the ability to communicate among ourselves from different disciplines and viewpoints as well as being able to venture together as a whole species in addressing the first communication challenge. In this paper, a philosopher and a physicist open that discussion, hoping to pave the way for many more dialogues to come.

Full Paper in PDF Document

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