By SynTalk
About this podcast
SynToy ( is now available on App Store and Google Play.

SynTalk (short for Synthesis Talk) is a freewheeling interdisciplinary talk show with a philosophical approach to understanding the world from a long term perspective. SynTalk believes that all understanding lies on nodes, and it therefore brings together concepts, ideas and impulses from different epistemological categories. SynTalk usually deals with disciplines such as art, mathematics, computer science, literature, logic, sciences, social sciences, philosophy, psychology, media, music, medicine, politics, ecology, public policy, technology, economics, physics, anthropology, gaming, and artificial intelligence. SynTalk’s goal is to contribute & promote original interdisciplinary collaboration & thinking inside, outside and across academic institutions, companies, think tanks, independent intellectuals, students, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, connoisseurs, and common folk. In the long run, SynTalk aspires to become a global platform for fence-less thinking.

SynTalk is currently in Turn Four.
In this podcast


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Latest episodes
Feb. 3, 2018
#TWOC (The Workings Of Clocks) --- SynTalk by SynTalk
Jan. 20, 2018
Do villages grow up to be cities? Do you have piped water? Is your city your home? Do you feel free? Or, abandoned? Or, anonymous? Why do people come together and cohabit in large numbers? Does this itself create new possibilities (& externalities)? How ‘natural’ is a city? Can there be villages within a city unit? What is called urban? Are cities heterogeneous and diverse, but also internally hierarchical? Why do ghettoes, slums, & suburbs emerge and persist? Do cities mirror the modern nation state or the medieval empires? Can cities transform agricultural practices? Can a city sustain itself even as it destroys the river (say) on which it was set up? Are homeless poor people capable of looking after themselves? Can cities ever be taken over by slums? How large can they get? Is a lot of urban planning (paradoxically) ‘anti-urban’? Can the Market or the State fulfill peoples’ dreams? Are urban (efficiency-driven) and rural (productivity-driven) properties very differently organized? Is the future of agriculture going to drive the future of cities? Is the ‘soft’ city as real as the concrete city? Would several cities get regionally disembedded? Must the urban imagination also include the hills and the seas…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from urban geography (Dr. Anant Maringanti, Hyderabad Urban Lab, Hyderabad), & urban history (Dr. Awadhendra Sharan, CSDS, New Delhi). Listen in...
Jan. 7, 2018
What’s a thought? Could that chair have been water? Does perception precede production? What does it mean to know a language? How & why did humans end up acquiring the very complex (& ‘discontinuous’) linguistic capacity? How do we carry meaning detached from the real physical world? Do we reason axiomatically or algorithmically? Is semantics logical? Do non-human animals care about reasons? How different is our brain from the primates ‘right behind us’? Do the ‘number’ of brain areas matter; why? Does language have a tendency to structure itself? What is one innate with when one is born? Is the linguistic faculty inferential? Do languages, thoughts, artefacts and organisms co-evolve? How can’t language be? Do birdsongs carry information without grammatical structures? Can culture cause genetic changes? Is artificial language reflexive? How does a language talk about itself? Are non-human animals very serious? Can all languages express all thoughts? Are there thoughts that language cannot express? Can crows (say) evolve a ‘language’ in the distant future, or do we have an unassailable lead? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from linguistics (Prof. Veneeta Dayal, Rutgers University, New Brunswick), logic & philosophy (Dr. Nirmalya Guha, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal), & cognitive neuroscience (Prof. Atsushi Iriki, RIKEN, Wakō, Japan). Listen in....
Jan. 6, 2018
Are you looking at a small screen now? Do you like following news ‘stories’ and soap operas? Why are the processes of media production always getting homogenized? Is the content often ‘more of the same’ – why? Is media a creature of the market? Are humans innately in the narrative mode both for communicating and sense-making? ‘Or’, do we now increasingly take in the world impressionistically? What does individuation of choices lead to? When do individuals make ‘good’ choices? Isn’t wholesome entertainment great? Can media be used to consciously produce social change and potentialities? Must social messages be entertaining? Is free press possible, & where? Is information truly an equalizer? What circulates, & what is excluded? ‘What’ & how does/might digital media disrupt? Does media innovation always change social order? Does digitization have revolutionary ‘potential’? What is the future of meta narratives and narrators (authors)? Is the media of the future likely to be more real? What is the ultimate constraint? Is the future robust? Will it allow us to sequester ourselves (if one does not want to belong to the mainstream)? Now, what happens next? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from journalism (Shashi Kumar, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai), & communication (Prof. Arvind Singhal, The University of Texas at El Paso, Texas). Listen in...
Dec. 23, 2017
Is grey ‘real’? Is all discretization perspectival? Can there be absolute notions of discreteness and continuity? Is time eternal? Is the world continuous but we perceive it as discrete? Are micro and macro objects continuous, but the meso discrete? Can real numbers be ‘made’ from integers? Are real numbers continuous (analog), & integers discrete (digital)? Do we don’t have access to ‘most’ of the real numbers? Did God make integers – or only 1 (& 0?)? What does Fourier Transform imply? What is the most fundamental signal? When does sampling not lead to loss of information? Can the sense of touch be discretized? Can surgeries be performed remotely? Does discretization happen in Nature? Is noise always continuous? Is speech predictable even if the underlying phonemes seem discrete? Do all manifolds lie on a continuum? Is making linear (analog) circuits difficult? Are higher order infinities deeper forms of ‘silence’? Does mathematics understand the ‘ambiguous’ ways in which things are (sometimes…) equal? Would a world without continuity (& community) be doomed? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from logic & philosophy (Prof. Mihir K. Chakraborty, ex-University of Calcutta, Kolkata), mathematics (Prof. Kiran S. Kedlaya, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California), & electrical engineering (Prof. D. Manjunath, IIT Bombay, Mumbai). Listen in...
Dec. 11, 2017
Imagine taking a step forward, then a step to the right, & then a step back – where are you now? Do you have to reason for this, & how ‘far’ can you go? How are diagrammatic reasoning and representation different? Are diagrams for domains that can be represented spatially? Are mental images an internal perceptual representation shared by both internal and external inputs? Do (explicit) symbols make cognition possible? Is our cognitive architecture multi-modal? Can the blind use diagrams? How do we know what is extraneous in diagrams? Are diagrams often socially constructed? Do shapes lie somewhere between speech and scripts? Can a child learn to ‘read’ spontaneously? Are scripts arbitrary? However, are diagrams always homomorphic with ‘reality’? Are there links between the evolutions of geometry, logic, & diagrams? Can we make a diagram of ‘yesterday’? Or ‘not raining’? Can the absence of non-existent objects be represented? What if diagrams didn’t ‘exist’? Does language mimic diagrams? Would diagrams be significantly more used for proofs in the future? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from artificial intelligence & cognitive science (Prof. B. Chandrasekaran, ex-The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio), philosophy of logic (Prof. Lopamudra Choudhury, Jadavpur University, Kolkata), & psychology (Prof. Prakash Padakannaya, University of Mysore, Mysore). Listen in...
Dec. 9, 2017
Are you free if thoughts just occur to you? Is alienation – as loss of a sense of belonging and subjectivity – a phenomenon of modernity? Is freedom contra-causal and spontaneous? Is it truly in human nature to be free? Are people ‘already’ free? Do you exercise your freedom in the Market? Is all of production voluntary? Is production a form of fulfillment? Is leisure (without work), then, a threat to freedom? Are you overworked and overspent? Are your desires yours? Are we accumulating ‘garbage’? Why don’t consumers go on strike? Are we biologically and socially constrained? Is there a connection between language and freedom? Are you able to put together disjoint concepts out of a context? Does language create possibilities? Can notions of freedom also be propagandized? Do you think of the mountains as Gods? Is freedom (along with the ability to act) essential for survival of the human species? Is it sufficient to think that one is free to be free? Is it necessary (?) to end Capital, as we know it, to save ourselves? Can you conceive of the end of the world? Is the future just like the past? Will we exercise our angelhood? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from philosophy (Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University, New York), economics (Dr. Arjun Jayadev, Azim Premji University, Bangalore), & linguistics & philosophy (Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherji, ex-University of Delhi, New Delhi). Listen in....
Nov. 25, 2017
Do you trust your translator? How can ‘worlds’ be translated? Where is Tamil when a novelist writes in English about Tamil speaking characters? Are all translations interpretations (judgment?)? Can one ‘read’ Nature? Can mathematics be translated into (natural language) prose? Is translation prior to language, & (therefore) is it in the nature of languages to be translatable? How then are languages different from one another? Can the forces of translation be located within one language itself? How are scientific texts different? Is symbolization a form of translation? Is science a form of storytelling? Are both equations and poetry essential & point-like? Do you read poetry with footnotes? Must the translated text do all the work on its own? Could a 20-page commentary on a 2-line sutra be considered a faithful translation? Does the specific history of interpretative communities always matter? Can Quran be translated and read as Ovi Marathi poetry? Did colonization happen via translation? But, is all translation violent? Will the ideas of interpretation, translation, & language always exist in the future? Will language die (?), but translation live? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from poetry (Prof. Mustansir Dalvi, Sir JJ School of Architecture, Mumbai), philosophy (Prof. Sundar Sarukkai, NIAS, Bangalore), & translation studies (Prof. S. Shankar, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu). Listen in....
Nov. 19, 2017
Can you be a revolutionary? Might concrete events have causes, but not history? What drives the world? Does history develop (or progress?) in stages? Is the end there at the beginning? Are we moving from ‘less free’ to ‘more free’? Are eras and epochs merely intellectual constructs, & always retrospective? Does human mind create different visions of the same era? How did human wants increase for the formulaic economic human to emerge? What role did trade play? Is creative technology an in-born element of life? Why isn’t there progress for ever? Is each epoch about an understanding of Being? Is future an embryo in the womb of the past? Are we merely articulators of what is emerging? Are humans themselves a resource now? What separates eras? Are there ‘natural’ breaks; or universal periods? Are there gaps in memory or history? Can personal whims and thoughts create history? Do epochs always grow, mature and then fade away? Are transitions driven by a distress or might it result from aleatory play? Are great civilizations always great economies? Is the creator also the destroyer? Is the technology era only beginning? When will the Owl of Minerva fly again? Can ‘only a god’ save us? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from philosophy (Dr. Siby K. George, IIT Bombay, Mumbai), & economics (Prof. Soumitra Sharma, ex-Juraj Dobila University of Pula, Pula, Croatia). Listen in...
Nov. 5, 2017
#TCOA (The Coordination Of Affairs) --- SynTalk by SynTalk