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From the formation of the earth from interstellar dust it has taken just under five billion years for matter to be able to speculate about its own origins. But how did intelligence come to be, and what is intelligence anyway?

In three SFI Community Lectures over three nights, SFI Professor David Krakauer explored the extraordinarily convergent theories from mathematics, physics, computation, and biology describing the emergence of intelligence, and speculates about the future for biological intelligence in a world of distributed thinking machines.

Download the lecture videos here via iTunesU.

Watch Part One: "The adversarial quartet" (69 minutes, Tuesday, August 30, 2011) - Starting with our efforts to define and measure order and intelligence, Krakauer surveys key ideas from the history of mathematics, physics, computation, and biology that have extraordinarily converged on very similar explanations for adaptive behavior.

Watch Part Two: "Invasion of the inferential cell" (84 minutes, Wednesday, August 31, 2011) - Krakauer recounts the evolution of life on Earth focusing on the advent of increasingly complex forms of behavior and thought, identifying the common principles of intelligent biological systems.

Watch Part Three: "All watched over by machines of loving grace" (92 minutes, Thursday, September 1, 2011) - Krakauer considers the future of biological intelligence in a world of distributed machine intelligence, where there is a prospect of new cultural mechanisms capable of eclipsing the analytical capabilities of our own species.

SFI’s Ulam Memorial Lecture series is named for Polish mathematician and Manhattan Project contributor Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1984).

The 2011 Ulam Lectures were generously underwritten by the Peters Family Foundation. Support for SFI's 2011 Community Lecture series is provided by Los Alamos National Bank.

Listen to an interview with Krakauer on KSFR's Radio Cafe (August 30, 2011)

Read the Santa Fe New Mexican article (August 30, 2011)


Krakauer's suggested reading list follows:

Part One

The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer, by Georges Ifrah (2005)

Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain, by Michael S. Gazzaniga (2011)

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On The Matter Of The Mind, by Gerald M. Edelman (1993)

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas R. Hofstadter (2008)

The Mismeasure of Man (revised & expanded), by Stephen Jay Gould (paperback - June 17, 1996)

Part Two

The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, by Terrence W. Deacon (paperback - April 17, 1998)

Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Philosophy of Mind), by Andy Clark (hardcover - October 29, 2008)

Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness, by Nicholas Humphrey (hardcover - February 20, 2011)

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell, by Dennis Bray (paperback - March 1, 2011)

Part Three

Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind, by Diego Rasskin-Gutman and Deborah Klosky (hardcover - July 10, 2009)

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World, by David Deutsch (hardcover - July 21, 2011)

The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive, by Brian Christian (hardcover - March 1, 2011)

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (Vintage), by Jaron Lanier (February 8, 2011)

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr (June 6, 2011)