Everything and More: The Prospects of Whole Brain Emulation

Journal of Philosophy 119 (8):444-459 (2022)
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Whole Brain Emulation has been championed as the most promising, well-defined route to achieving both human-level artificial intelligence and superintelligence. It has even been touted as a viable route to achieving immortality through brain uploading. WBE is not a fringe theory: the doctrine of Computationalism in philosophy of mind lends credence to the in-principle feasibility of the idea, and the standing of the Human Connectome Project makes it appear to be feasible in practice. Computationalism is a popular, independently plausible theory, and Connectomics a well-funded empirical research program, so optimism about WBE is understandable. However, this optimism may be misplaced. This article argues that WBE is, at best, no more compelling than any of the other far-flung routes to achieving superintelligence. Similarly skeptical conclusions are found regarding immortality. The essay concludes with some positive considerations in favor of the Biological Theory of consciousness, as well as morals about the limits of Computationalism in both artificial intelligence and the philosophy of mind more generally.

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Author's Profile

Eric Mandelbaum
CUNY Graduate Center

Citations of this work

How to deal with risks of AI suffering.Leonard Dung - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Digital suffering: why it's a problem and how to prevent it.Bradford Saad & Adam Bradley - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong.Jerry A. Fodor - 1998 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness.Bernard J. Baars - 1988 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap.Joseph Levine - 1983 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October):354-61.

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