SynTalk

By SynTalk

About this podcast   English    United States

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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.
117 episodes · since Jul, 2014
In this podcast

Society & Culture

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April 21, 2018
Can the ocean be boiled? Is the aquarium a closed system? Is the Universe an open system? Are all systems conceptual (& arbitrary?)? Do systems always have components? Can an individual body have a temperature? Why does the temperature not change ‘during’ the process of freezing? What describes volume? Might we have closed (idealized) theories to understand otherwise open systems? How do bodies ‘turn’ inactive? Is openness always a question of degree given (say) the strength of interactions and/or the dimensional scale? Is classical theory an approximation of quantum theory? What would your little protest do? Can closed societies stay closed forever? Do dynamics of interactions matter? Can phase transitions happen in closed systems? Can living cells become inert (yet viable) spores? Does atom-ness exist? Are we, as human beings, components of systems? How do political systems take shape? Is it possible for ideas to be closed? Does our changing knowledge keep even the past unclosed? Is anything closed at all? Are closed models necessary and helpful? &, will we continue to open the world up this way? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from philosophy (Dr. Anirban Mukherjee, University of North Bengal, Siliguri), electrical engineering & systems biology (Dr. Shaunak Sen, IIT Delhi, New Delhi), & mathematics (Prof. K. B. Sinha, JNCASR, Bangalore). Listen in...
April 15, 2018
What’s posterity ever done for you? What survives in the long run? How did (public) museums come to be from private collections? Who owns the past? Do we transact with the invisible sacral world via these accumulations? How is the integrity of (say) sounds preserved and meanings imbued in them? What makes chants memorable? Can objects be looked at as mere postulations? Are ‘art’ objects pointers to a certain moment in time in the artist’s life? How stable are museums – do objects sometimes end up in a bonfire there? Can art survive only by including the possibility of its own change (& even death)? Does making something also allow one to move forward? What is not heritage? Do narratives precede collection? What do we look past? How does a proverb work? Why do non-Brahmins chant? How are histories localized? What happens outside museums and galleries, & how is that taken ‘in’? Are devotion and detachment different? Does the present need the past; & is the past always ‘here’? Are we worried about forgetting? Will we keep traveling from the particular to the universal? How can you postpone somebody else’s death? What is the future of the past? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from folklore studies (Dr. M. D. Muthukumaraswamy, National Folklore Studies Centre, Chennai), art (Sudarshan Shetty, Mumbai), & art history (Prof. Kavita Singh, JNU, New Delhi). Listen in...
March 31, 2018
Does your neck hurt? Do you allow yourself to be moved? What is your relationship with gravity? Are ‘bodies moving in space’ the fundamental units of meaning? Do we shape the space around us geometrically? Is dance a way of generating numbers from the metaphysical space (…from the stars?)? Is our body, also, linear and planar? Is your body interconnected? Can you feel your fascia? Could gestures ‘disturb’ language? Is a static body always lifeless? Is movement (intention?) life, & is only displacement movement? Do notions of stability and movement go hand in hand? Do our thoughts change when we change our posture? How articulate is your torso? How universal are gestures and what they ‘signify’? How do factors such as climate, culture, technology, art, & division-of-labour enter our movements? How much of the space around you is yours? Do you like being touched? How does language enter us, & are gestures a language of some sort? ‘Where’ do you put your accents? Is it difficult to move slowly? What is the future of social awkwardness? &, will we find ways to be more 3-dimensional in the future? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from literary studies (Dr. Arka Chattopadhyay, IIT Gandhinagar, Gandhinagar), dance (Debra McCall, Ross Institute, New York), & physiotherapy (Dr. Snigdha Mehta, Dr. Snigdha Mehta’s Physiotherapy Centre, Mumbai). Listen in…
Feb. 17, 2018 · transcript
Can inequality kill you? Are poorer brains smaller? Is poverty (= inequality + deprivation) the mother of all diseases? Do the rich lead shorter lives in unequal countries? (Why) does Law, with its attempted neutrality, often criminalize poverty? How is theft by a rich person different? Can/should the State demand actions off the poor for them to access ‘benefits’? Is providing opportunity enough, or must inequality of agency also always be addressed? Would you drink water from any well? Are there economic benefits of having a socially cohesive society? Does our brain respond to the environment more than any other body part? Why are the poor kids in schools often not learning? Should poverty be defined within the context of communities (& not externally)? What do all the poor have in common? How can policy account for the heterogeneity of responses by different people to any given situation? However, can the poor be thought of as mere individuals? Can deprivation be eradicated in the future? Can striving for short term equality lead to long term efficiency? Must all children be fed and loved? Must every story be heard…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from psychiatry (Prof. Vikram Patel, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts), economics (Dr. Vijayendra Rao, The World Bank, Washington DC), & law (Dr. Anup Surendranath, National Law University (NLU), Delhi). Listen in…
Feb. 3, 2018 · transcript
#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...

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