I highly recommend The Revelations; it’s one of the best novels I’ve read this year. It follows a group of young, ambitious scientists who are recruited to a fellowship dedicated to the study of consciousness. Before long, they have to contend with a mysterious death within their cohort. It’s a murder mystery meets novel of ideas (The Name of the Rose set in modern New York, if you like) and my conversation with Erik is a spoiler-free exploration of some of its big themes: the nature of ambition, the sociology of science and, of course, consciousness itself.
We also discuss one of Erik’s academic papers, The Overfitted Brain
, which we covered last year in TiB 134
. This presents a novel hypothesis about why we dream. Erik posits that dreams provide “out of sample” data to prevent our brains “overfitting” to the relatively narrow slice of experience that is real life - and so allow our brains to deal with new situations. Erik is a fascinating thinker; I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.