Monday, November 21, 2011

RSA - The Brain is Wider than the Sky

Bryan Appleyard (cultural commentator, Sunday Times columnist), author of the new book, The Brain is Wider than the Sky (Orion, 2011) and Rod Liddle (print, radio and television journalist and associate editor, The Spectator) talk about Appleyard's new book.

At the bottom of the page is a short video of Appleyard talking about the book for Waterstone's, followed by a summary of the book (which is not currently available in the U.S.). 

The Brain is Wider than the Sky

14th Nov 2011; 19:00

Listen to the audio (full recording including audience Q&A)
Please right-click link and choose "Save Link As..." to download audio file onto your computer.

RSA Keynote

In his new book, 'The Brain is Wider than the Sky' Bryan Appleyard draws on his experience as a writer on science, new technology and the arts, to chart the tantalizing choices we now face and the questions we should be asking ourselves as fast-moving technological forces shape our future and define the priorities of the new machine age.

Do we love our machines so much that we risk becoming more like them? What will we lose if we do?

What are we learning from the work of neuroscientists, who work at the intersection of science and art, the brain and the mind, and who seem to be closing in on a new definition of the human? Can human consciousness ever be captured on a scanner? What does all this scientific activity tell us about the origins of creativity, the most distinctive human quality, and does it matter any more?

Join Bryan Appleyard and Rod Liddle for a special “in conversation” event at the RSA, as they discuss how we can embrace the ‘new complexity” and reclaim the full depth of human experience.

Speakers: Bryan Appleyard, cultural commentator, Sunday Times columnist and author of 'The Brain is Wider than the Sky' (Orion, 2011) and Rod Liddle, print, radio and television journalist and associate editor, The Spectator.

Part memoir, part reportage, part cultural analysis, THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN THE SKY is a dire warning about what we may become and a lyrical evocation of what humans can be.

Simplicity has become a brand and a cult. People want simple lives and simple solutions. And now our technology wants us to be simpler, to be 'machine readable'. From telephone call trees that simplify us into a series of 'options' to social networks that reduce us to our purchases and preferences, we are deluged with propaganda urging us to abandon our irreducibly complex selves. Dazed by the marketing, we hand over our lives to databases, iPads and smartphones. At the same time, scientists tell us we are 'simply' the products of evolution, nothing more than our genes. Brain scanners have inspired neuroscientists to claim they are close to cracking the problem of the human mind. 'Human equivalent' computers are being designed that, we are told, will do our thinking for us. Humans are being simplified out of existence. It is time, says Bryan Appleyard, to resist, and to reclaim the full depth of human experience. We are, he argues, naturally complex creatures, we are only ever at home in complexity. Through art and literature we see ourselves in ways that machines never can. He makes an impassioned plea for the voices of art to be heard before those of the technocrats. For the brain is indeed wider than the sky.

Buy The Brain is Wider Than the Sky: Why Simple Solutions Don't Work in a Complex World by Bryan Appleyard on ( or at your local Waterstone's (

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