Darwin’s account of the origin of living things makes no attempt to answer the deepest question, what is life?
With new advances in nanotechnology and biophysics, scientists are demonstrating how living organisms manipulate information to power molecular motors, control chemical reactions and navigate the uncertain world of molecular randomness.
In The Demon in the Machine, Paul Davies explores nothing less than a grand unified theory of physics and biology organised around the concept of information.
This book is the culmination of decades of thinking about physics, life and complexity. It lays out the foundations for this next great frontier in science, in which new physical laws will be understood and exploited, ‘information engines’ will transform nanotechnology and biology will be seen to be less about complex chemistry and more about modules and networks that store and process information.
DNA is more important than any other factor in shaping who we are: it influences everything from whether we are extroverted or introverted, whether we have mental illness or are a morning person, and how well we do at school. What’s more, the influence of DNA becomes stronger as we get older.
Robert Plomin’s research shows just how far we are all shaped by our genes from birth, and how they, in turn, influence the environments in which we live and the life experiences we are likely to have. It turns out even nurture is actually nature: we seek out environments and are parented in ways that fit our genetic pre-disposition.
To mark the publication of his highly-anticipated new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, global phenomenon Prof Yuval Noah Harari will discuss the most urgent issues of our times at a special how to: Academy event.
Harari will be joined in conversation by award-winning actress, director, activist and Harvard graduate Natalie Portman, who is one of a number of high-profile figures who have read and recommended Harari’s books in the past – alongside the likes of Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Portman has also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where Harari now teaches.
Harari’s latest book tackles a number of contemporary issues, both personal and global, ranging from Brexit, fake news and the future of welfare, to mental stability, ecological cataclysm and technological disruptions.
Living in Liquid Times: Should We Fight For Democracy?
Populism, the rise of an “us” and “them” mentality and technological “progress” are threatening democracy in unprecedented ways.
How close are we to slipping into a new political phase and what can we do to change the direction of travel? These are the questions that Elif Shafak – award-winning novelist, public intellectual and political commentator – will address as she seeks to answer the question: “Should we fight for democracy?”
Identity politics is now entrenched on both sides of the political spectrum.
On the left it proliferates into ever-expanding categories, and new forms of exclusion. Outsiders are not allowed to share in the knowledge possessed by a group, because to do so is seen as cultural appropriation.
The idea of universal human rights has been replaced by the demand for ‘recognition’ – not for inclusion within the fold, but for acknowledgment of group identity as the right to assert and maintain difference.
On the right, political tribalism in America has mobilized around the idea of whites as an endangered group, faced by the bleak demographic prospect of becoming a minority in their ‘own country’.
Join us – in conjunction with the How To Academy – and discover from Francis Fukuyama: is there still time to restore the dream of universal recognition and equality of rights upon which liberal democracy was founded?
Yuval Noah Harari in conversation with Thomas Friedman
In collaboration with how to: Academy we present two of the greatest thought leaders of the 21st century coming together for an urgent conversation about the future of humanity.
In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari compressed 70,000 years of history into a single book, arguing that one species rose to dominance over all others because shared beliefs enabled collaboration.
In Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, he argued that the centre may be shifting once more, as we transfer our faith in ourselves to the gods of data and the algorithm.
Thomas Friedman has argued that the beginning of this century will be remembered not for conflicts or political events, but for the globalised ‘flattening’ of the world and the explosion of advanced technologies.
The cognitive revolution has already happened. What will our restless and aggressive species do about it?
When Theresa May uttered these words at the Tory party conference in 2016, there was uproar. For many, believing you are a citizen of the world is a badge of honour, not shame. The cosmopolitan impulse, they believe, isn’t about loyalty to any single community. On the contrary, you can be a citizen of your street, your city, your country and the entire globe.
But for a different group of people, May’s words resonated deeply. These people often feel sneered at as nationalists or worse, as bigots, by the elites who do not understand their profound intuition that the nation state is the natural expression of group identity.
To unpack the debate, Pi is partnering with Intelligence Squared to bring you Simon Schama, one of Britain’s most celebrated historians, who embodies the cosmopolitan spirit and Elif Shafak, the Turkish novelist and commentator, who calls herself a ‘world citizen and a global soul’.
Joining them will be David Goodhart – who distinguishes ‘somewheres’, who feel strong local and national attachments, from ‘anywheres’, global villagers who value autonomy and mobility – and David Landsman, who is concerned about the growing intellectualisation of work which he views as widening the gap between the professional classes and everyone else.