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In Quest of Optimism Beyond the Edge: through avoidance of the answering process


In Quest of Optimism Beyond the Edge
Reflections on the question
Unsurprising surprises
Res extensa vs Res cogitans
"In-the-box" vs "Out-of-the-box"?
Pre-logical biases?
A curious analogy?
Why "emit"?
Not-knowing and uncertainty
Res cognita vs Res incognita : reframing the edge of the known?
A-void-dance as intimate sensing
Optimizing the individual and collective learning process
Sustainable avoidance?
Learning from this commentary
Synchronicity in playfully questioning the complexity of the edge

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Each year the World Question Center, initiated by The Edge, formulates a question that is submitted to a network of people of appropriate eminence in a relevant field. The Edge Annual Question of 2007 is as follows:

What are you optimistic about? Why?

As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put. What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!

The 160 responses are available on the Edge website. They have also been presented in a book edited by John Brockman (What are You Optimistic About? 2007).

The following is a commentary on an encounter by the writer with that set of responses. It follows from earlier responsibility for the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, use of its databases to generate questions of possible significance (Generating a Million Questions from UIA Databases: Problems, Strategies, Values, 2006), an effort to derive significance from them (Preliminary NetMap Studies of Databases on Questions, World Problems, Global Strategies, and Values, 2006), a concern with fixation on the positive (Being Positive Avoiding Negativity: management challenge of positive vs negative, 2005) and with questions of a "higher order", and a continuing preoccupation with the challenge of comprehension (Musings on Information of Higher Quality, 1996). Aspects of these initiatives notably enabled the work of the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in its development of a question-based interactive web media facility for Dropping Knowledge (Enabling a Living Library, 2006).

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