In a paper in this journal, Neil Levy challenges Nicholas Agar’s argument for the irrationality of mind-uploading. Mind-uploading is a futuristic process that involves scanning brains and recording relevant information which is then transferred into a computer. Its advocates suppose that mind-uploading transfers both human minds and identities from biological brains into computers. According to Agar’s original argument, mind-uploading is prudentially irrational. Success relies on the soundness of the program of Strong AI—the (...) view that it may someday be possible to build a computer that is capable of thought. Strong AI may in fact be false, an eventuality with dire consequences for mind-uploading. Levy argues that Agar’s argument relies on mistakes about the probability of failed mind-uploading and underestimates what is to be gained from successfully mind-uploading. This paper clarifies Agar’s original claims about the likelihood of mind-uploading failure and offers further defense of a pessimistic evaluation of success. (shrink)
Humans have long wondered whether they can survive the death of their physical bodies. Some people now look to technology as a means by which this might occur, using terms such 'whole brain emulation', 'minduploading', and 'substrate independent minds' to describe a set of hypothetical procedures for transferring or emulating the functioning of a human mind on a synthetic substrate. There has been much debate about the philosophical implications of such procedures for personal survival. Most participants (...) to that debate assume that the continuation of identity is an objective fact that can be revealed by scientific enquiry or rational debate. We bring into this debate a perspective that has so far been neglected: that personal identities are in large part social constructs. Consequently, to enable a particular identity to survive the transference process, it is not sufficient to settle age-old philosophical questions about the nature of identity. It is also necessary to maintain certain networks of interaction between the synthetic person and its social environment, and sustain a collective belief in the persistence of identity. We defend this position by using the example of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhist tradition and identify technological procedures that could increase the credibility of personal continuity between biological and artificial substrates. (shrink)
Minduploading speculation and debate often concludes that a procedure described as gradual in-place replacement preserves personal identity while a procedure described as destructive scan-and-copy produces some other identity in the target substrate such that personal identity is lost along with the biological brain. This paper demonstrates a chain of reasoning that establishes metaphysical equivalence between these two methods in terms of preserving personal identity.
We present a hypothetical process of mind coalescence, where arti cial connections are created between two or more brains. This might simply allow for an improved form of communication. At the other extreme, it might merge the minds into one in a process that can be thought of as a reverse split-brain operation. We propose that one way mind coalescence might happen is via an exocortex, a prosthetic extension of the biological brain which integrates with the brain as (...) seamlessly as parts of the biological brain integrate with each other. An exocortex may also prove to be the easiest route for minduploading, as a person's personality gradually moves away from the aging biological brain and onto the exocortex. Memories might also be copied and shared even without minds being permanently merged. Over time, the borders of personal identity may become loose or even unnecessary. (shrink)
There is a debate about the possibility of mind-uploading – a process that purportedly transfers human minds and therefore human identities into computers. This paper bypasses the debate about the metaphysics of mind-uploading to address the rationality of submitting yourself to it. I argue that an ineliminable risk that mind-uploading will fail makes it prudentially irrational for humans to undergo it.
I develop an argument that believing in the survivability of a minduploading procedure conveys value to its believers that is assessable independently of assessing the truth of the belief. Regardless of whether the first-order metaphysical belief is true, believing it conveys a kind of Darwinian fitness to the believer. Of course, a further question remains of whether having that Darwinian property can be a basis—in a rational sense of being a basis—for one’s holding the belief. I’ll also (...) make some remarks in the present article toward answering that latter question. (shrink)
Transhumanism has enormous effect on temporary philosophical thought by forcing philosophers to take on many intellectual challenges. Not only philosophers deal with transhumanism but also scientists who try to create technological solutions that enable implementation of transhumanistic ideas. The question is whether all these ideas will be realized. The purpose of the article is to show that not all transhumanist aspirations can be put into practice. The first reason is that transhumanism limits human’s understanding to the material dimension. While this (...) is understandable in the naturalistic paradigm, this approach is insufficient when it comes to all complexity of human being and for this reason tanshumanism represents too narrow a human’s understanding to be able to implement its all assumptions. The second reason is that to enable people to become posthumans the latest technologies would have to be available to everyone and this seems impossible. If so, such a situation will divide people into ordinary people and posthumans and this could lead to conflicts that transhumanists want to avoid after all. Finally, the body-mind problem is essentially limited to emergentism, which corresponds to the naturalistic paradigm. It seems, however, that without the concept of the soul it is impossible to understand who a man is, his/her identity and consciousness and this is crucial for minduploading. (shrink)
Our digital technologies have inspired new ways of thinking about old religious topics. Digitalists include computer scientists, transhumanists, singularitarians, and futurists. Digitalists have worked out novel and entirely naturalistic ways of thinking about bodies, minds, souls, universes, gods, and life after death. Your Digital Afterlives starts with three digitalist theories of life after death. It examines personality capture, body uploading, and promotion to higher levels of simulation. It then examines the idea that reality itself is ultimately a system of (...) self-surpassing computations. On that view, you will have infinitely many digital lives across infinitely many digital worlds. Your Digital Afterlives looks at superhuman bodies and infinite bodies. Thinking of nature in purely computational terms has the potential to radically and positively change our understanding of life after death. (shrink)
Would you survive if your consciousness branched into two or more streams? Commonly discussed within the context of split-brain scenarios, this possibility might soon become commonplace with minduploading technology. Cerullo suggests that after nondestructive minduploading and other branching scenarios, personal identity would continue in two streams of consciousness. Thus he argues for what he calls branching identity. In this discussion, I evaluate the theory of branching identity and Cerullo’s arguments for it, concluding that branching (...) identity is insufficiently justified and does not yield a better interpretation of branching cases than provided by Parfit. (shrink)
I survey four categories of factors that might give a digital mind, such as an upload or an artificial general intelligence, an advantage over humans. Hardware advantages include greater serial speeds and greater parallel speeds. Self-improvement advantages include improvement of algorithms, design of new mental modules, and modification of motivational system. Co-operative advantages include copyability, perfect co-operation, improved communication, and transfer of skills. Human handicaps include computational limitations and faulty heuristics, human-centric biases, and socially motivated cognition. The shape of (...) hardware growth curves, as well as the ease of modifying minds, are found to have a major impact on how quickly a digital mind may take advantage of these factors. (shrink)
As persons, we are importantly different from all other creatures in the universe. But in what, exactly, does this difference consist? What kinds of entities are we, and what makes each of us the same person today that we were yesterday? Could we survive having all of our memories erased and replaced with false ones? What about if our bodies were destroyed and our brains were transplanted into android bodies, or if instead our minds were simply uploaded to computers? -/- (...) In this engaging and accessible introduction to these important philosophical questions, Amy Kind brings together three different areas of research: the nature of personhood, theories of personal identity over time, and the constitution of self-identity. Surveying the key contemporary theories in the philosophical literature, Kind analyzes and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. As she shows, our intuitions on these issues often pull us in different directions, making it difficult to develop an adequate general theory. Throughout her discussion, Kind seamlessly interweaves a vast array of up-to-date examples drawn from both real life and popular fiction, all of which greatly help to elucidate this central topic in metaphysics. -/- A perfect text for readers coming to these issues for the first time, Persons and Personal Identity engages with some of the deepest and most important questions about human nature and our place in the world, making it a vital resource for students and researchers alike. (shrink)
The paper analyses selected philosophical aspects of Stanisław Lem’s Solaris. I argue that there is an interesting similarity between the history of “Solarist studies” –the fictional scientific discipline depicted by Lem and cognitive science. I show that both disciplines go through similar stages as they try to describe their main subject. In the further part of the paper, I focus on two problems identified in cognitive science that can be directly related to the themes found in Solaris: the problem of (...) the detection of intelligence and the problem of the notion of mental representations. I finish the paper by looking at the mysterious guests that stalk the main protagonists and show that they can be understood as heuristic models that are taken into account in the theories of minduploading. (shrink)
There is not just a desire but a profound human need for enhancement - the irrepressible yearning to become better than ourselves. Today, enhancement is often conceived of in terms of biotechnical intervention: genetic modification, prostheses, implants, drug therapy - even minduploading. The theme of this book is an ancient form of enhancement: a physical upgrade that involves ethical practices of self-realization. It has been called 'angelification' - a transformation by which people become angels. The parallel process (...) is 'daimonification', or becoming daimones. Ranging in time from Hesiod and Empedocles through Plato and Origen to Plotinus and Christian gnostics, this book explores not only how these two forms of posthuman transformation are related, but also how they connect and chasten modern visions of transhumanist enhancement which generally lack a robust account of moral improvement. (shrink)
El materialismo de la Edad Moderna nos describe al hombre como una máquina, comparable a un complejo artilugio mecánico. Cabe entonces imaginar que una máquina no-biológica pueda constituir un ser pensante como lo son los seres humanos, e incluso cabría pensar en la posibilidad de codificación de una mente humana real para su posterior trasvase a un sustrato artificial. Considero que estas últimas posiciones son más propias de la cultura friki o de amantes de la ciencia ficción que de una (...) cultura humanista seria. En cualquier caso, una cosa parece clara: la simulación por ordenador de cualquier tipo de materia no es la materia misma. Una simulación por ordenador de una estrella no emite luz ni calor, y del mismo modo tampoco ofrece calor humano (en términos materiales) ni voluntad de vivir una máquina que hipotéticamente pueda contener toda la información sobre el ser humano y simular sus respuestas. -/- English translation: The materialism of the Modern Age describes human beings as machines, comparable to complex mechanical devices. It is then possible to imagine that a non-biological machine can constitute a thinking being as humans are, and one could even think of the possibility of coding a real human mind for its subsequent transfer to an artificial substrate. I think that these latter positions are more typical of the geek culture or of science fiction lovers than of a serious humanist culture. In any case, one thing seems clear: the computer simulation of any type of matter is not the matter itself. A computer simulation of a star does not emit light or heat, and likewise a machine that hypothetically can contain all the information about a human being and simulate his/her responses offers neither human heat (in material terms) nor will to live. (shrink)
In this article, I examine whether the possibility exists that in the foreseeable future, robot technology will permit the development of emotional robots. As the title suggests, the content is of a technological as well as of a philosophical nature. As a matter of fact, my aim in writing this paper was that of bridging two distinctive fields in a world where humanity has become accustomed to technological innovations while overlooking any consequential complications arising from such inventions. To this end, (...) I review and commentate on what Anders Sandberg, Paul Thagard, Nikhil Churamani and other thinkers have contributed on the subject matter. The literature review indicates that in the short to the medium term, scientists will only design and engineers will only build robots that will be able to only learn, be trained, or under the most optimistic conditions only simulate human emotions. However, in the long term the possibility exists for technology to advance to such a state so as to permit an entire human brain to be emulated in a robot via a concept named ‘minduploading’. If one day that becomes a reality, that will be the point where humanity will possibly come closest to creating robots with emotions. (shrink)
Transhumanism and philosophical posthumanism have paid special attention to human corporeality in relation to technological breakthroughs. This article begins by pointing out how the two movements differ significantly about the inheritance of humanism. Subsequently, the transhumanist notion of ‘morphological freedom’ is addressed from the proposals of More, Sandberg, and Bostrom. Then, paradigmatic cases of body modifications through cybernetic implants are considered. Finally, the issues of identity, corporeality, and the disagreement between the two currents regarding ‘minduploading’ are problematized.
While drawing from the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler throughout the paper, I commence by highlighting Zoltan Istvan’s representation of transhumanism in the light of its role in politics. I continue by elaborating on the notion of the promise of eternal life. After that I differentiate between subjects that are proper for philosophy (such as the mind or whether life is worth living) and science (measurable and replicable). The arguments mostly concern mind-uploading and at the same time I (...) elaborate on a simple critique of mind-body dualism, which is one of the key imagined orders exploitable by technologies in the narratives of transhumanism present in popular culture. This is reframed as a problem of action. The focus of this article is on the claim that certain transhumanisms are dangerous forms of Neo-Darwinism. It comes from a critical assessment of capital and the exploitation of bodies through market forces. Entropy is a process of growing disorder, while neganthropy is an anthropological struggle against exploitation, not only of bodies, but of all ecosystems of the Earth. The arguments of Stiegler from a collection of lectures are recapitulated, and his claims are presented through the prism of transhuman narrative, with a particular focus on Christian Salmon's position in the book Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the semantic contents of some linguistic and mental representations are determined by factors independent of a person’s bodily makeup. Arguments derived from Hilary Putnam’s seminal Twin Earth thought experiment have been especially influential in establishing that belief. I claim that there is a neglected version of the mind-body relation which undermines those arguments and also excludes the possibility of zombies. It has been neglected because it is counterintuitive but I show that it can nonetheless (...) be intelligibly worked out in detail and all obvious objections met. This suggests that we may be faced with a choice between embracing a counterintuitive interpretation of the mind-body relation or accepting that a currently very promising theory in cognitive science, Prediction Error Minimization, faces a fundamental problem. Furthermore, blocking that threat entails that any physicalist/materialst theory of mind is freed from the spectre of zombie worlds. The proposal also makes the ideas of personal teleportation of minduploading more plausible. (shrink)
An emerging consensus in cognitive science views the biological brain as a hierarchically-organized predictive processing system that relies on generative models to predict the structure of sensory information. Such a view resonates with a body of work in machine learning that has explored the problem-solving capabilities of hierarchically-organized, multi-layer (i.e., deep) neural networks, many of which acquire and deploy generative models of their training data. The present chapter explores the extent to which the ostensible convergence on a common neurocomputational architecture (...) (centred on predictive processing schemes, hierarchical organization, and generative models) might provide inroads into the problem of digital immortality. In contrast to approaches that seek to recapitulate the connectomic microstructure of the human brain, the present chapter advocates an approach that is rooted in the use of machine learning algorithms. The claim is that a future form of deep learning system could be used to acquire generative models of a given individual or (alternatively) the sensory data that is processed by the brain of a given individual during the course of their biological life. The differences between these two forms of digital immortality are explored, as are some of the options for digital resurrection. (shrink)
The possibility of algorithmic consciousness depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes, including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner’s Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge these assumptions by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of identical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions (...) due to quantum fluctuations. By assuming the supervenience of a conscious state on some sufficient underlying physical state, I show that the existence of two or more instances, whether spacelike or timelike, of the same conscious state leads to a logical contradiction, ultimately refuting the assumption that a conscious state can be physically reset to an earlier state or duplicated by any physical means. Several explanatory hypotheses and implications are addressed, particularly the relationships between consciousness, locality, physical irreversibility, and quantum no-cloning. (shrink)
As the journal is effectively defunct, I am uploading a full-text copy, but only of my abstract and article, and some journal front matter. -/- Note that the pagination in the PDF version differs from the official pagination because A4 and 8.5" x 11" differ. -/- Note also that this is not a mere repetition of the argument in /Mind/, nor merely an application of it; there are subtle differences. -/- Finally, although Christians are likely to take this (...) as applicable to a God who can enter time, Jewish readers who wish a full understanding of its intent are referred to M.R. II:13:3. Note that /some/ free will, however miniscule, must remain, exactly as argued. Also, Maimonides speaks differently, albeit metaphorically, elsewhere, and nothing here contradicts his statements. (shrink)
If a brain is uploaded into a computer, will consciousness continue in digital form or will it end forever when the brain is destroyed? Philosophers have long debated such dilemmas and classify them as questions about personal identity. There are currently three main theories of personal identity: biological, psychological, and closest continuer theories. None of these theories can successfully address the questions posed by the possibility of uploading. I will argue that uploading requires us to adopt a new (...) theory of identity, psychological branching identity. Psychological branching identity states that consciousness will continue as long as there is continuity in psychological structure. What differentiates this from psychological identity is that it allows identity to continue in multiple selves. According to branching identity, continuity of consciousness will continue in both the original brain and the upload after nondestructive uploading. Branching identity can also resolve long standing questions about split-brain syndrome and can provide clear predictions about identity in even the most difficult cases imagined by philosophers. (shrink)
Objections to uploading may be parsed into substrate issues, dealing with the computer platform of upload and personal identity. This paper argues that the personal identity issues of uploading are no more or less challenging than those of bodily transfer often discussed in the philosophical literature. It is argued that what is important in personal identity involves both token and type identity. While uploading does not preserve token identity, it does save type identity; and even qua token, (...) one may have good reason to think that the preservation of the type is worth the cost. (shrink)
Elements of Mind provides a unique introduction to the main problems and debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. Author Tim Crane opposes those currently popular conceptions of the mind that divide mental phenomena into two very different kinds (the intentional and the qualitative) and proposes instead a challenging and unified theory of all the phenomena of mind. In light of this theory, Crane engages students with the central problems of the philosophy of mind--the mind-body (...) problem, the problem of intentionality (or mental representation), the problem of consciousness, and the problem of perception--and attempts to find solutions to these problems. A fresh and engaging exploration of the main issues in the philosophy of mind, Elements of Mind is easily accessible to students with no background in the subject. (shrink)
Quine has spoken of bringing our beliefs about the world before “the tribunal of experience.” In Mind and World, McDowell agrees that this is what we must do, but he argues forcefully that Quine’s conception of experience as nothing more than a neuronal cause of verbal responses loses the whole idea that experiences can justify beliefs. McDowell’s overarching aim is to determine conditions that experience must satisfy if it is to be genuinely a tribunal.
Transhumanism and Extropianism are two recent ‘movements’ which aspire to transcend the perceived limitations of human biological evolution. This paper takes a critical look at two of the most controversial aspects of Extropianism—Uploading and Immortality. Uploading is the process by which a human will be able to transfer the entire contents of their brain to a more suitable supercomputational medium. When the newentity exist as software, immortality is virtually assured. This should be possible, it is claimed, within the (...) next fifty years! From both a pragmatic and philosophical perspective, I argue that these claims are at best misguided and at worst absurd. (shrink)
To readers familiar with action theory as it was done thirty years ago, this book will strike a familiar chord. It presents an account of action of the sort that typified the ordinary language movement: fundamentally logical-behaviorist in its theory of mind, negatively disposed toward mental acts, anti-causalist in its account of explanation by reasons, and compatibilistic in its view of freedom. The object is to show that the ordinary concept of action is secured at the observational level, and (...) so is not endangered by causal accounts of mental or neurological antecedents of behavior. (shrink)
This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...) he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid. (shrink)
John Searle's Speech Acts and Expression and Meaning developed a highly original and influential approach to the study of language. But behind both works lay the assumption that the philosophy of language is in the end a branch of the philosophy of the mind: speech acts are forms of human action and represent just one example of the mind's capacity to relate the human organism to the world. The present book is concerned with these biologically fundamental capacities, and, (...) though third in the sequence, in effect it provides the philosophical foundations for the other two. Intentionality is taken to be the crucial mental phenomenon, and its analysis involves wide-ranging discussions of perception, action, causation, meaning, and reference. In all these areas John Searle has original and stimulating views. He ends with a resolution of the 'mind-body' problem. (shrink)
This book offers a broad, systematic philosophical approach to mental disorder. The authors spend the first half of the book presenting their basic philosophical allegiances, and they go on to apply their philosophical approach to mental disorder. As the authors note, psychiatry has been largely neglected by contemporary philosophy of mind, and this book is a laudable attempt to rectify the situation by producing a sustained and clinically well-informed philosophical treatment of mental disorder.
In the introduction to his Mind and Morality: An Examination of Hume’s Moral Psychology, John Bricke traces the remarkable lack of agreement among commentators concerning the nature of Hume’s moral philosophy to two main failings: insufficient attention to “the foundations, in his philosophy of mind, on which Hume builds when constructing his theory of morality” and “the practice of taking his theory of morality as a patchwork of severally brilliant and provocative, but essentially unintegrated parts.” Accordingly, he proposes (...) to “fasten on Hume’s efforts to found a theory of morality on a theory of mind” and to do so with an “approach to the textual evidence [that] is holistic, self-consciously seeking connections between what can seem to be isolated doctrines”. The set of interrelated topics that he is thus led to address includes motives and reasons for action ; desires, volitions, and affections ; moral motivation ; moral sentiments ; the artificiality of justice ; motives to justice ; and the nature of moral agents. (shrink)
What did Leibniz have to contribute to the philosophy of mind? To judge from textbooks in the philosophy of mind, and even Leibniz commentaries, the answer is: not much. That may be because Leibniz’s philosophy of mind looks roughly like a Cartesian philosophy of mind. Like Descartes and his followers, Leibniz claims that the mind is immaterial and immortal; that it is a thinking thing ; that it is a different kind of thing from body (...) and obeys its own laws; and that it comes stocked with innate truth-tracking intellectual ideas and an epistemically troubling habit of forming confused sensory ideas on the occasion of external corporeal events. Nothing is new. Of course, Leibniz adds unconscious perceptions to the mind in the form of his famous petites perceptions, and he offers a unique solution to the problem of mind-body interaction in the form of his infamous pre-established harmony. In the overall scheme of things, however, these look like minor alterations in a philosophy of mind that the Cartesians had been advocating for some fifty years. Or so it appears. (shrink)
A pioneering study of the phenomenology of the special state of mind induced by Ayahuasca, a plant-based Amazonian psychotropic brew. The author's research is based both on extensive firsthand experiences with Ayahuasca, and on interviews conducted with a large number of informants coming from different places and backgrounds.
In the preface, Kim writes hopefully that his introduction to the philosophy of mind is “intended to be accessible to those without a formal background in philosophy”. The blurb at the end is more realistic: Philosophy of Mind is “a textbook for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students”. It is an admirable addition to Westview’s excellent Dimensions of Philosophy series. Brisk, workmanlike chapters profile the usual suspects: behaviorism, the identity theory, mind as computer and as causal structure, mental (...) causation, consciousness, mental content, and reductive and nonreductive physicalism. Each chapter ends with a useful note on further readings. (shrink)
Rowlands defends environmentalism, that is, the conjunction of the ontological claim that cognitive processes are not located exclusively inside the skin of cognizing organisms and the epistemological claim that it is not possible to understand the nature of cognitive processes by focusing exclusively on what is occurring inside the skin of cognizing organisms. Chapter 3 is devoted to explaining how environmentalism differs from other forms of externalism about the mental. The crucial points are that the arguments to be presented for (...) the ontological claim do not turn on considerations about the content of mental states, that environmentalism implies a strong form of externalism, and that standard arguments for externalism, based on considerations about content, do not establish the strong form. (shrink)
Hornsby is a defender of a position in the philosophy of mind she calls “naïve naturalism”. She argues that current discussions of the mind-body problem have been informed by an overly scientistic view of nature and a futile attempt by scientific naturalists to see mental processes as part of the physical universe. In her view, if naïve naturalism were adopted, the mind-body problem would disappear. I argue that her brand of anti-physicalist naturalism runs into difficulties with the (...) problem of mental causation and the completeness of physics. (shrink)
Aware that the representational thesis is more plausible for the attitudinal than for the phenomenal, Dretske courageously focuses on sensory experience, where progress in our philosophical understanding of the mental has lagged. His view, essentially, is that what makes any mental state what it is is not so much what it's like as what it's about.