The hallucination machine

Imagination is a commonplace idea. To imagine is to form an image in the mind, to contrive, devise or represent something. Most would affirm that a vivid imagination is an asset, a function exercised by competent designers, poets, artists, authors and inventors. Here I am continuing a theme from an earlier post Creative cognition. Now…More

Exaggeration (revisited)

I’ve just returned from Dubai, a city subject to analysis across many dimensions (smart city, meeting of cultures, diversity, development, opportunity, entrepreneurship, particular labour practices). Not least, it is a city of exaggerated dimensions, scales, shapes, social dimensions, politics. Here are some images that confirm that exaggeration, followed by something I wrote in 2016 in…More

Cultures of the desert

I’m on holiday, but this is a good chance to revive former reflections on desert life, at least from the viewpoint of the tourist philosopher. See posts: Infinite souq, Chasing the line, Don’t go into the crypt! and The twist of the pen.More

Creative cognition

As I’m reading about brains and cognition again, I thought I would revisit an article I penned some time ago that tried to address the issue of creativity. Coyne, Richard. “Design reasoning without explanation.” AI Magazine 11, no. 4 (1990): 72-80.  At the time there was a debate between two schools concerning how human reason…More

Hallucination everywhere

Perception of the world is a “controlled hallucination.” That’s one of the main propositions of the recent book by neuroscientist Anil Seth, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. For me the idea that the things we perceive in the world are conditioned by what we imagine, or project into it, accords with the phenomenology…More

“Blockchain for architects” revisited

In 2017 the editors of arq (Architectural Research Quarterly) approached some of us to contribute articles for an anniversary issue to celebrate the journal’s twenty-first year. The invitation was to reflect on the past, or future, 21 years of architectural research. With co-author Tolu Onabolu I decided to beat the drum for blockchain and the…More

Phenomenology and data

In 2013 a group of us published an article describing our early attempt to use head-mounted mobile EEG to gauge people’s emotional (affective) responses to spaces while on the move. Aspinall, Peter, Panagiotis Mavros, Richard Coyne, and Jenny Roe. “The urban brain: Analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 49,…More


Data objects are different than physical objects. Data files can be fragmented and distributed across storage locations, then re-assembled instantly as needed. Even on my laptop, files are stored in different parts of a hard disk (or flash drive) as fragments. Networks of personal computers can also host distributed file fragments. The most recent innovation…More

History is my witness

Independent Russian news website Meduza has operated in Latvia since 2014. It aims to provide independent reporting and commentary about Russia for Russians. It is inevitably critical of Putin’s government. Since launching its attack on Ukraine the Russian government blocked Meduza in a raft of measures to silence criticism. Meduza is blocked from its main…More

Primary research

Researchers in the humanities and social sciences like to compare, contrast, synthesise, critique build and dissect theories, ideas and preconceptions. We attempt to formulate compelling arguments and narratives, drawing on relevant literature, reflections and insights from our intellectual communities. We sometimes encroach across borders between communities and frameworks to encounter otherness that challenges our own…More