Prosthetic Gods by

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enleuk Says:
July 30, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Technology has been a part of ourselves for a long time. We define ourselves through wall papers, car brands, cell phone colours, clothes et cetera. And there’s no reason to draw the line where the skin ends, mainly because it’s a fuzzy line that can’t be drawn even if you wanted to define yourself as a unitary being. You can cut a thumb off and you’d still be you.

In cognitive science the mind is often talked of as extended beyond the brain. The brain functions like a command central that fetches information from the memory and brings it to awareness. Similarly, a library and even the internet is accessible to this brain function and the only difference is that you’re getting the information from outside the brain instead of from the memory. The library, if you have index knowledge of it, is a part of your mind.

What I find interested is how we will modify our bodies in the future. There’s no theoretical problem in changing the DNA to produce a 500 ft tall metal human. At the same time there’s no theoretical problem in building a 500 ft tall metal exo-skeleton with a driving seat fit for a human connected directly to the brain (Brain-Machine Interface). And similarly there’s no theoretical problem in building a 500 ft tall metal robot with a learning artificial neural net as complex over even more complex than a human brain.

The philosophical problem for those who believe in a soul and other metaphysical phenomena would be to explain why these three beings are all self-conscious. A materialist would not face this problem. A deconstructivist would say the metaphors of soul and self-consciousness are misleading. A Buddhist would say that the material reality is a delusion. But a dualist and a transcendentalist would have to say that the robot was programmed to say it was self-conscious and that in reality what the robot is saying are just words. I’d say, in reality, that’s exactly what humans are already doing. Language is confusing our understanding of existence.


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