A concise summary of a vast subject. James Gleick’s coverage of symbolism is an apt, strong theme throughout. The summary of the scientific viewpoint also covers well the current confusion about the fundamentality of Information, the bit, the byte, 4 dimensionsal digital reality, on or off? – the biter bit!
Finally, Wikipedia gets due coverage for being perhaps the greatest real social democratic project on the planet, warts and all mirror of the human condition:
Stars the bit players
Cast a universe in mind
Art thou creator?
We inhabit a matrix of digital information
We make of it what we will
Consciousness just another production
Of the director over the hill
Just in the mind?
It is just, it is justice, no shame
What a magnificent thing to find
A universe inside us
I’m not religious in any accepted sense
I cannot paraphrase the universe
But yours is the crudest interpretation
I’ve come across for something that persists
As long as humanity
And has changed it and you and me irrevocably
You charge it with man’s folly?
Its own state and purpose,
Its raison d’etre!
What am I to make of your opposition,
Concretised my feeling that the mind does not harvest intelligence but focuses and connects with it. The octopus and cuttlefish have a central processor like humans but also have semi-independent nodes of processing in their tentacles. Ants individually are robotic little pheromone followers but a colony has similar intelligence distribution to a human being. Amazing insights on what intelligence is and how we humans have anthropomorphised it and missed its finer points. Lovely tone as well, this book .
Far too much to see
For humanity and me
Need to know not why
Our wherewithal is to stand under
Not to understand
And, thus, to know, to be.
Out of the dissolute body came the word
Winging its way, winging its way to where
Out of the past a reptilian bird
Where do they go and what can they bear
Why do they whistle, what is their ware
Just to make sense of sun, moon and star
To capture a heart and move it fair?
Out of this nought a first protozoa
Love reformed grace
At the pace of the tortoise, a hare
From the soiled body, into the solid body
Appearance and shapes to spare