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What makes us conscious?

Consciousness might emerge from a particular kind of information processing. Shutterstock

Do you think that the machine you are reading this story on, right now, has a feeling of “what it is like” to be in its state?


Originally published in The Conversation.

Gun control in America by the right (and wrong) numbers

United States President Barack Obama continues to push for reform on gun control amid concerns that people will “become numb” to any further mass shootings, which he says are now happening on a weekly basis.

His comments followed a shooting in Kansas last month in which three people died and 14 were wounded.


Originally published in The Conversation.

Orang-utans play video games too, and it can enrich their lives in the zoo

Visiting the orang-utans at the zoo brings us face to face with some of our closest relatives. Moments of connection with these intelligent creatures can be powerfully emotional.

We heard recently about the amazing experience of a visitor to Melbourne Zoo who sat to breastfeed her child and was watched with interest by a female orang-utan.


Originally published in The Conversation.

Expert panel: the state of the National Broadband Network

Should the fibre extend to the street or the premises? Shutterstock

Is the rollout for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) on track? Are we employing the right technology for the job? Will the NBN be fast enough to handle future demands?


Originally published in The Conversation.

Pi and its part in the most beautiful formula in mathematics

Pi has an interesting relationship with some other unique constants in mathematics. Shutterstock/Shawn Hempel

Pi Day is upon us again, for those who note today’s date in the format 3/14 (March 14).


Originally published in The Conversation.

Brian Greene yes but string theory no

Stellar science communicator. Red Maxwell/Flickr, CC BY

Saturday 19th March will see me standing on stage at Melbourne Park chatting to one of the most famous figures in physics and The Conversation.

AI has beaten us at Go. So what next for humanity?

In the next few days, humanity’s ego is likely to take another hit when the world champion of the ancient Chinese game Go is beaten by a computer.

Currently Lee Sedol – the Roger Federer of Go – has lost two matches to Google’s AlphaGo program in their best-of-five series. If AlphaGo wins just one more of the remaining three matches, humanity will again be vanquished.


Originally published in The Conversation.

An ancient Australian connection to India?

An Aboriginal rock painting in Kakadu National Park of an early European ship. Wikimedia Commons, Google Art & Griffith University

When was the remote Australian continent first settled?


Originally published in The Conversation.

We should broaden our view of science if it's to help make good public policy

Sometimes science needs to look at the bigger picture in order to best influence public policy. Pixabay

Actor and science advocate Alan Alda will address the National Press Club today, talking a


Originally published in The Conversation.

Gone is the solitary genius – science today is a group effort

Scientific discovery was once a mostly solitary endeavour and a common view was that genius was responsible for significant advances in knowledge.

The Nobel Prize – the ultimate prize for discovery – reinforces this perception by awarding no more than three people in each category each year for their contributions to science. Yet, increasingly, scientists are working in large collaborative teams to produce research of exceptional quality.


Originally published in The Conversation.