What are you working on now?
Having just finished my new book that was published with Logos a couple of weeks ago, for the time being I am doing my best not to be working on anything…! However, the mind of humans always remains active, no matter how strong one’s resolution is to deactivate it for a while… The ethical issues that come hand in hand with augmented intelligence have always been challenging to me, therefore it is highly likely that I will eventually indulge in the intellectual charms of this field.
What do you think is world’s greatest discovery?
As far as science is concerned to me the greatest discovery ever is by far electromagnetism and all its powers and applications. I am pretty sure that most of us take the applications of electricity for granted, but we are largely indebted to guys such as Thales of Miletus, William Gilbert, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse for almost everything we do at present, as well as for all we will do in the future. As far as the intellect is concerned, the greatest discovery has definitely been the argument, as a substitute for the sword on the one hand, and as a tool for limitless intellectual development.
What qualities must a successful researcher possess?
Luck above all, of course. Dedication, spirit, courage, devotion, genius, all these are of paramount significance. Luck, however, is always the most decisive determinant when it comes to research, as it is with all human affairs in general. One has to be lucky enough to be born in the proper time and place, or, at least, not in times and places that would be hostile to research for any reason whatsoever, within a scientific environment that would help or force one go further, etc. As a researcher I consider myself extremely favored to have been born in an era of peace and prosperity, one that facilitates and respects research; I also envy those researchers who will be born fifty years from now: I am sure they will be offered opportunities that now are unimaginable – at least I wish them to be.
What great thinkers would you have loved to work with? Or with whom would you like to work in the future?
I consider myself blessed to have met, discussed, and worked with most of those I consider to be the greatest thinkers of our time; I really couldn’t have wished for anything more. If I had to travel back in time, though, and was given the chance to pick, I would definitely choose to be among the company of the great thinkers early in the 20th century in Cambridge: I mean Bertrand Russel, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Maynard Keynes, C. D. Broad and others. But since only the future is open, my only wish is to have the chance work with young, brilliant people, whose achievements would soon make my ideas look like intellectual relics.
What would you be had you not become an academic?
Probably a professional fighter; I still remain inconclusive about whether my decision to quit boxing was the right one. My friends never miss a chance to assume that if I hadn't quit, at least philosophy would have been better off! Nevertheless, I never regret past decisions, nor ever wondered how things would have been if I had followed any other path that was once open to me. We are the people we are, and our decisions just make who we are manifest to others, but also to ourselves.
Why do you write books?
Because collecting stamps proved to be too boring for my taste! And also, because among all the useless stuff one writes, there might be something that, for some peculiar reason, would be useful to somebody else, might help another scholar further his or her research and provide critical insight.
Does the future belong to OpenAccess?
The present, also. OpenAccess is the best research tool conceivable; to me publishing one’s research in open access publications strikes more as a moral duty, than as an option. To make one’s work accessible to everybody, to allow all to benefit from one’s research and ideas, to me this is the cornerstone of academic ethics. This is what ‘publishing’ is about, after all: making something as publicly available as possible.