Oct 21 2008
I went to hear Freeman Dyson talk tonight. It was a lot of fun. He didn’t talk about physics at all; instead, about “the individual vs the community” which naturally is a subject that lines up well with my interests. He described it as one of the most fundamental problems of our time, and approached the question through examples in linguistics, law, and biology, especially evolution and biotech. He’s a great speaker, small and pert, totally feisty despite being 89 (!) — he ripped into Richard Dawkins particularly, but also other ideas he didn’t think were right. You could tell he’d be a good, if slightly impatient, teacher.
I liveblogged it on identi.ca. Copied under cut for posterity. Oldest post at bottom, obviously.
“the future of humanity is… If you want to do your own thing… Go somewhere else!” – dyson
Freeman Dyson looks like @metasj … at 89
I’ve seen in less than 50 years the computer turn from a huge machine to toys for three year olds…. Biotech will be the same way.” – Dyson
“The santification of individuals legally is a recent development.. Biologists & doctors & lawyers can help us move forward.”
“Delight in punishing cheaters has made us what we are… An intimate mixture of altuism and vengeance.”
“Vengeance is the dark side of altruism” – F. Dyson
“Compare dodo a & dodo b”… In the end group survival tumped individual survival, as now both extinct.
Dyson talking about evolution is so cute. He’s a small man totally fiesty. Says personal genetics next round of. open source sharing.
Liveblogging dyson talk – good/bad for readers? @evan identica needs better mobile interface!
Reality club www.edge.org. @await, dyson gave shoutout to Geo. Church & personal genetics.
Dyson: contin. to talk re: legal basis of individual rights trumping community rights, as re: affirm action. Bakke vs UC scotus case.
Ditching affirm. action – the tendancy of americans to focus on america as a society of individuals rather than.a collection of communities.
And these lang differences reveal cultural differences, which primarily center on the individual v. the group & expectations for both..
What I have tried to describe is three notions of freedom. What itmeans in different contexts, dependent on community & context.
Also the microphone keeps cutting out. Guy next to me: too many physicists and not enough engineers here!
…Starting with linguistics, and flawed translations of concepts, eg freedom in russian and english
Dyson: I am not here to talk about physics- Instead one of the most imp. sociological problems of our day, the individual and the community
Of course, the people at freeman dyson who aren’t older are all cute physics students. Ahem.
Freeman dyson talk in surprisingly small room, full of older people. Apparently my gen. hears dyson & thinks vacuum cleaner.
going to see Freeman Dyson tonight speak about “which is more important: the individual or the group?” Should be interesting.
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