Educated at Harvard and Sussex universities, Arnold carried out research in artificial intelligence at Schlumberger, SRI International, and the National Research Council of Canada, where he has recently been conducting research in complex systems and artificial life.
In the last few years Arnold has also been particularly concerned with ways in which traditional scientific approaches to understanding the world miss or fail to deal with some very important phenomena, including some critical to artificial intelligence and cognitive science. His work in these areas bring into play his extensive background in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism as well as studies in some of the shamanic traditions.
Arnold worked in England and Canada until a sabbatical beginning in the spring of 2003 brought him to the Pari Center in Tuscany. Since then he has been working in Pari, and is in the process of making this his primary research home.
Arnold writes" My current research interests are not easy to describe succinctly. For several decades I carried out research in artificial intelligence (particularly language understanding and knowledge representation) and human-computer interaction. But throughout this period some fundamental limitations and constraints in our ways of approaching this research bothered me, and eventually these issues demanded my prime attention."
"In recent years I have been exploring the origins of life and forms of self-organizing systems in the natural world, but my research interests equally include opening up to new ways of understanding and seeing, beyond traditional scientific perspectives. These derive as much from other cultures as from our own, honouring the intuitive, the heart, the female, and the dream as much as the rational, the male, and the externally objective. To allow such other ways of knowing to infect (a successor to) science while retaining the openness, humility, and democratic nature of traditional science at its best is an immense challenge, but to take this path is to explore in an amazingly rich, largely uncharted wilderness of the unknown."