Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers and the host of the Waking Up Podcast. His books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics—neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, rationality—but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.
Harris’s work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Nature, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.
Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.
Giulio Tononi is an award-winning psychiatrist and neuroscientist whose main focus has been the scientific understanding of consciousness. His integrated information theory is a comprehensive theory of what consciousness is, how it can be measured, and how it is realized in the brain. The theory is being tested with neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and computer models.
His work also focuses on understanding the function of sleep. He and his collaborators study species ranging from fruit flies to humans, from the molecular and cellular level to the systems level. This research has led to the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis, according to which sleep is needed to renormalize synapses, counteracting the progressive increase in synaptic strength that occurs during wakefulness due to learning. The hypothesis has implications for understanding the effects of sleep deprivation and for developing diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders.
In 2005, Dr. Tononi received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for his work on sleep mechanism and function. He holds the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine and the Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science at the University of Wisconsin.
Christof Koch joined the Allen Institute as Chief Scientific Officer in 2011 and became President in 2015.
He received his baccalaureate from the Lycée Descartes in Rabat, Morocco, his M.S. in physics from the University of Tübingen in Germany and his Ph.D. from the Max-Planck-Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen. Subsequently, he spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1987 until 2013, he was a professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, from his initial appointment as Assistant Professor, Division of Biology and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1986, to his final position as Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive & Behavioral Biology. See here for Christof's academic pedigree and his students.
Koch has published extensively, and his writings and interests integrate theoretical, computational and experimental neuroscience with philosophy and contemporary trends, in particular artificial intelligence. He is currently working on a book entitled Conscious Matter.
His last book, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, blends science and memoir to explore topics in discovering the roots of consciousness. Stemming in part from a long-standing collaboration with the late Nobel Laureate Francis Crick, Koch authored the book The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach. He also authored the technical books Biophysics of Computation: Information Processing in Single Neurons and Methods in Neuronal Modeling: From Ions to Networks, and served as editor for several books on neural modeling and information processing. Koch’s research addresses scientific questions using a widely multidisciplinary approach.
His research interests include elucidating the biophysical mechanisms underlying neural computation, understanding the mechanisms and purpose of visual attention, and uncovering the neural basis of consciousness and the subjective mind.
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