017 Us and Not Us with Michael J. Spivey


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Michael J. Spivey is a professor of cognitive science at the University of California Merced. He earned his BA in Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz and his PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. After 12 years as a psychology professor at Cornell University, Michael moved to UC Merced to help build a department of cognitive and information sciences. He has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters on the embodiment of cognition and interactions between language, vision, memory, syntax, semantics, and motor movement. His most recent book, published in 2020, is "Who You Are: The Science of Connectedness." (MIT Press)

In this conversation, KMO and Michael discuss:

  • 03:20 – The book's title and table of contents; externalism and egregore
  • 07:30 – The role of the prefrontal cortex in our conception of self
  • 11:30 – Non-scientific view of interactions between brain parts
  • 12:50 – Mental representations of the world and the tricks they can play on us
  • 15:35 – Letting go of oneself
  • 17:25 – The value of familiar environments
  • 18:45 – The futility of widely used time-management tricks
  • 19:40 – Extending our mind past our skin
  • 25:20 – The skipped question of emergent group intentions and desires
  • 26:15 – Connecting to other bodies and life forms; emergence, again
  • 28:25 – Murmurations and being in charge of a flock
  • 28:45 – Boundaries between objects
  • 35:20 – Perceiving objects as extensions of ourselves
  • 37:02 – Virtual reality and tracking the direction of gaze
  • 43:15 – AI and dogs
  • 44:55 – Computer-generated imagery; deep fakes and their antidotes
  • 49:35 – Extending your sense of self to the planetary scale
  • 53:55 – Apocalyptic predictions, prepping, and the future of civilization
  • 55:47 – Going beyond our planet and contacting life elsewhere
  • 58:20 – Anti-natalism, suffering, and feeling one with the universe
  • 1:02:28 – Michael's closing points; practical advice in the book

Michael (The Guest):

KMO (The Host):