The Center for Dialog in Science promotes an open, honest, and intellectually-rigorous exploration of deeply-interdisciplinary scientific questions.
A "deeply-interdisciplinary" approach goes beyond the application of a technique from one field to problems in another. It considers the foundations of two or more fields at the same time. Today, exponentially-accumulating data typically drives scientists towards an increasing own-field specialization and a decreasing familiarity with basic problems in other fields. As a response, the Center holds space for a new style of scientific enquiry, where fundamental challenges in a number of fields are simultaneously explored. In this context, "Dialog" is a demanding mode of interdisciplinary communication designed to suspend field-specific preconceptions, and to allow for new cross-field insights.
As a first experiment in deeply-interdisciplinary Dialog, the Center examined the question of consciousness. This examination compared two views. First, the mainstream view, that consciousness research primarily involves the identification of particular neural dynamics "associated with" conscious experience, in an orthodox physical-science setting. Second, an alternative view, that consciousness research must lead to or depend on one or more radically-new concepts in physical science. Radical innovations might be related e.g. to dynamics in natural order, or to the nature of space and time. Comparing these two views is a deeply-interdisciplinary investigation because the foundations of two fields (consciousness research and physics) are both in play. An overview of the consciousness program is available here.
Building on the success in generating new insights about consciousness, the Center is currently applying Dialog to the fields of finance and economics. Just as for consciousness, two basic scenarios are in play. First, people are matter-made machines, as mainstream physics and then mainstream economics assume. Second, natural dynamics - and the human condition - include more than merely-matter; for example, in some views, there must be more than (classical) matter at play, in certain definitions of creativity and innovation (both, incidentally, economically-vital activities!). An outline of the economics program's agenda will be published here.
An important aspect of the Center's work is to communicate both process and results to a wider, non-expert community. One part of this effort is the preparation of less-technical, 'popular', summaries, which can be found here.