The ‘Mind-Upload’ hypothesis, a radical version of the Brain-in-a-Vat thought experiment, asserts that a whole mind can safely be transferred from a brain to a digital device, after being exactly encoded into substrate independent informational patterns. Prima facie, MU seems the philosophical archenemy of the Embodied Mind theory, which understands embodiment as a necessary and constitutive condition for the existence of a mind and its functions. In truth, whether and why MU and EM are ultimately incompatible (...) is unobvious. This paper, which aims to answer both questions, will not simply confirm that MU and EM actually are incompatible. It will also show the true reason of their incompatibility: while EM implies that a mind’s individual identity is contingent upon the details of its physical constituents, MU presupposes that minds can be relocated from one material vessel to another. A systematic comparison between these conflicting assumptions reveals that the real shortcoming of MU is not the one usually discussed by the philosophical literature: it has nothing to do with MU’s functionalist or computationalist prerequisites, and is only secondarily related to the artificial implementability of consciousness; the real problem is that MU presupposes that minds could still be individuated and numerically identified while being reduced to immaterial formal patterns. EM seems committed to refute this assumption, but does it have sufficient resources to succeed? (shrink)
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)
From a behaviorist perspective, the desire to upload “minds” is already being realized on a mass, hyper-industrial scale thanks to the convergence of cognitive computing and Big Data. The accusation is that the “mind” is not an entity that exists intracranially. Instead, it is conceived as a process of individuation, which occurs in different modes and numbers. Some narratives of mind-uploading and technics in popular culture are explored: Transcendence (2014, dir. Wally Pfister) and Player Piano by Kurt (...) Vonnegut. The discussed issues consider Bernard Stiegler’s phenomenological notion of originary default and Thierry Bardini’s analysis of junk. Several questions are raised regarding miscalculations, accidents, in addition to Nicolas Agar’s discussion on the end of humanity, and Daniel Dennett’s Multiple Drafts theory within the context of exteriorization, which is considered as constitutive of interiority. (shrink)
It’s fashionable to maintain that in the near future we can become immortal by uploading our minds to artificial computers. Minduploading requires three assumptions: that we can construct realistic computational simulations of human brains; that realistic computational simulations of human brains would have conscious minds like those possessed by the brains being simulated; that the minds of the simulated brains survive through the simulation. I will argue that the first two assumptions are implausible and the third (...) is false. Therefore, we will not upload our mind to computers and, most likely, we will not upload anything resembling our mind to computers. (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)
Immer mehr sehen wir uns in die Lage versetzt, aktiv Einfluss nicht nur auf unsere Existenz und unser Leben, sondern auch auf die Bedingungen unseres Sterbens zu nehmen. Alterungsprozesse aber auch unser Tod gelangen zunehmend in den Verfügungsbereich unserer Selbstbestimmung und sind zu einem gewissen Grade gestaltbar geworden. Offen ist, wohin dieser Trend vor dem Hintergrund aktueller technologischer Fortschritte noch führen mag. Gegenwärtig sind wir mit den Problemen einer alternden Bevölkerung, einer unzureichenden Altenpflege und einer mangelhaften Alterskultur konfrontiert, die nach (...) gesellschaftspolitischen und medizinethischen Handlungsoptionen verlangen. Zugleich kursieren Zukunftsvisionen, in denen der physiologische Verfall im Zuge des Alterns und damit auch die Leiblichkeit des Menschen insgesamt als defizitär betrachtet wird. Alternative Lebensentwürfe in post- oder transhumanistischen Kreisen betrachten den Tod als extreme Grenzerfahrung, die es zu verhüten gilt. Eine selbstbestimmte Existenz wird mit Selbstoptimierung gleichgesetzt – und sei es auch um den Preis des eigenen Leibes. Werden hier die Grenzen des Menschseins erweitert oder verengt? (shrink)
ZusammenfassungIch möchte in diesem Artikel aufzeigen, dass ein Leben oder zumindest eine Fortexistenz des Subjekts nach dem physischen Tod aus anthropologischer Sicht durchaus nicht ausgeschlossen, die Fortexistenz einer Person durch die Übertragung ihres Geistes auf eine Festplatte dagegen aus prinzipiellen Gründen unmöglich ist. Beide Thesen lassen sich durch eine Reflexion auf die humane Verfassung begründen.
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)
Abstract. Could a person or mind be uploaded—transmitted to a computer or network—and thereby survive bodily death? I argue ‘minduploading’ is possible only if a mind is an abstract object rather than a concrete particular. Two implications are notable. One, if someone can be uploaded someone can be multiply-instantiated, such that there could be as many instances of a person as copies of a book. Second, minduploading’s possibility is incompatible with the leading (...) theories of personal identity, insofar as these assume the mind is a concrete particular. Moreover, because David Chalmers (2010; 2012; 2014) defends minduploading without construing minds as abstract, I show Chalmers’ argument to be unsound. (shrink)
_Intelligence Unbound_ explores the prospects, promises, and potential dangers of machine intelligence and uploaded minds in a collection of state-of-the-art essays from internationally recognized philosophers, AI researchers, science fiction authors, and theorists. Compelling and intellectually sophisticated exploration of the latest thinking on Artificial Intelligence and machine minds Features contributions from an international cast of philosophers, Artificial Intelligence researchers, science fiction authors, and more Offers current, diverse perspectives on machine intelligence and uploaded minds, emerging topics of tremendous interest Illuminates the nature (...) and ethics of tomorrow’s machine minds—and of the convergence of humans and machines—to consider the pros and cons of a variety of intriguing possibilities Considers classic philosophical puzzles as well as the latest topics debated by scholars Covers a wide range of viewpoints and arguments regarding the prospects of uploading and machine intelligence, including proponents and skeptics, pros and cons. (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)
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.
This edited book deepens the engagement between 21st century philosophy of mind and the emerging technologies which are transforming our environment. Many new technologies appear to have important implications for the human mind, the nature of our cognition, our sense of identity and even perhaps what we think human beings are. They prompt questions such as: Would an uploaded mind be 'me'? Does our reliance on smart phones, or wearable gadgets enhance or diminish the human mind? (...) and: How does our deep reliance upon ambient artificial intelligence change the shape of the human mind? Readers will discover the best philosophical analysis of what current and near future 21st technology means for the metaphysics of mind. Important questions are addressed on matters relating to the extended mind and the distributed self. Expert authors explore the role that the ubiquitous smart phone might have in creating new forms of self-knowledge. They consider machine consciousness, brain enhancement and smart ambient technology, and what they can tell us about phenomenal consciousness. While ideas of artificial general intelligence, cognitive enhancements and the smart environment are widely commented on, serious analysis of their philosophical implications is only getting started. These contributions from top scholars are therefore very timely, and are of particular relevance to students and scholars of the philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, computer science and psychology. (shrink)
Machines will attain human levels of intelligence by the year 2040, predicts robotics expert Hans Moravec. And by 2050, they will have far surpassed us. In this mind-bending new book, Hans Moravec takes the reader on a roller coaster ride packed with such startling predictions. He tells us, for instance, that in the not-too-distant future, an army of robots will displace workers, causing massive, unprecedented unemployment. But then, says Moravec, a period of very comfortable existence will follow, as humans (...) benefit from a fully automated economy. And eventually, as machines evolve far beyond humanity, robots will supplant us. But if Moravec predicts the end of the domination by human beings, his is not a bleak vision. Far from railing against a future in which machines rule the world, Moravec embraces it, taking the startling view that intelligent robots will actually be our evolutionary heirs. "Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and share our goals and values, can be viewed as children of our minds." And since they are our children, we will want them to outdistance us. In fact, in a bid for immortality, many of our descendants will choose to transform into "ex humans," as they upload themselves into advanced computers. We will become our children and live forever. In his provocative new book, the highly anticipated follow-up to his bestselling volume Mind Children, Moravec charts the trajectory of robotics in breathtaking detail. A must read for artificial intelligence, technology, and computer enthusiasts, Moravec's freewheeling but informed speculations present a future far different than we ever dared imagine. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between neural enhancement, uploading, and personal identity. Building on our earlier work, it argues that the aspects of cognitive functioning that are central to the preservation of personal identity are those surrounding consciousness. Neural enhancements that do not preserve consciousness do not preserve personal identity. Examining in particular the influential arguments of Clark, Clowes, Gärtner, and others regarding the extended mind, we argue for a pessimistic view of the ability for mind extension (...) technologies that are currently available to provide a feasible path to transcend human biology while still preserving our personal identity. (shrink)
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)
This special issue of JET deals with questions relating to our radically enhanced future selves or our possible “mind children” – conscious beings that we might bring about through the development of advanced computers and robots. Our mind children might exceed human levels of cognition, and avoid many human limitations and vulnerabilities. In a call for papers earlier this year, the editors asked how far we ought to go with processes that might ultimately convert humans to some sort (...) of post-biological form or replace us with post-biological beings. Are these coherent ideas at all? If so, is it likely, or plausible, that we’ll one day be able to do such things? Even if we can, is that desirable? More generally, how far can all these processes go, and how far should we pursue them? To offer a more personal and pointed question, would you “upload” your personality into some kind of advanced computer or robot if the technology became available? Would you do so even if the process required the destruction of your original organic brain? We are not the first to ask such questions. A large body of relevant literature has built up in recent decades, some of it discussing these and similar questions purely as philosophical thought experiments , but some of it at the level of practical recommendations for a posthuman future. Despite the intensity and quality of the ongoing debate and the eminence of many of the contributors, much work remains to be done to sort it all out and advance the discussion. We have gathered a range of viewpoints, and I predict that some of these pieces will soon be regarded as classics. They may not be the last word – how could they be when they do not all agree with each other? – but they advance our understanding of what is at stake. (shrink)
We present the consequences of the assumption of the classical and quantum nature of information storing and processing in the brain. These assumptions result in different behaviours of consciousness under a hypothetical brain copy experiment. The subject is important in the context of ‘minduploading’ considerations.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Tanto el transhumanismo como el posthumanismo filosófico han prestado una atención especial a la corporalidad humana en relación al avance tecnológico. En el presente artículo, se comienza señalando cómo ambos movimientos difieren significativamente respecto a la herencia del humanismo. Posteriormente, se aborda la noción transhumanista de la ‘libertad morfológica’ de la mano de More, Sandberg y Bostrom. A continuación, se presentan casos paradigmáticos de modificaciones corporales mediante implantes cibernéticos. En último lugar, se problematizan las cuestiones de la identidad, la corporalidad (...) y el desencuentro entre ambas corrientes respecto al ‘volcado de la mente’. -/- 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. (shrink)
Immortality is the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death. In common parlance, immortality is virtually indistinguishable from afterlife, but philosophically speaking, they are not identical. Afterlife is the continuation of existence after death, regardless of whether or not that continuation is indefinite. Immortality implies a never-ending existence, regardless of whether or not the body dies (as a matter of fact, some hypothetical medical technologies offer the prospect of a bodily immortality, but not an afterlife). Immortality has been (...) one of mankind’s major concerns, and even though it has been traditionally mainly confined to religious traditions, it is also important to philosophy. Although a wide variety of cultures have believed in some sort of immortality, such beliefs may be reduced to basically three non-exclusive models: (1) the survival of the astral body resembling the physical body; (2) the immortality of the immaterial soul (that is an incorporeal existence); (3) resurrection of the body (or re-embodiment, in case the resurrected person does not keep the same body as at the moment of death). This article examines philosophical arguments for and against the prospect of immortality. A substantial part of the discussion on immortality touches upon the fundamental question in the philosophy of mind: do souls exist? Dualists believe souls do exist and survive the death of the body; materialists believe mental activity is nothing but cerebral activity and thus death brings the total end of a person’s existence. However, some immortalists believe that, even if immortal souls do not exist, immortality may still be achieved through resurrection. Discussions on immortality are also intimately related to discussions of personal identity because any account of immortality must address how the dead person could be identical to the original person that once lived. Traditionally, philosophers have considered three main criteria for personal identity: the soul criterion , the body criterion and the psychological criterion. Although empirical science has little to offer here, the field of parapsychology has attempted to offer empirical evidence in favor of an afterlife. More recently, secular futurists envision technologies that may suspend death indefinitely (such as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, and minduploading), thus offering a prospect for a sort of bodily immortality. (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)
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)
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)
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)
Nicholas Agar has recently argued that it would be irrational for future human beings to choose to radically enhance themselves by uploading their minds onto computers. Utilizing Searle’s argument that machines cannot think, he claims that uploading might entail death. He grants that Searle’s argument is controversial, but he claims, so long as there is a non-zero probability that uploading entails death, uploading is irrational. I argue that Agar’s argument, like Pascal’s wager on which it is (...) modelled, fails, because the principle that we (or future agents) ought to avoid actions that might entail death is not action guiding. Too many actions fall under its scope for the principle to be plausible. I also argue that the probability that uploading entails death is likely to be lower than Agar recognizes. (shrink)
Apocalyptic AI, the hope that we might one day upload our minds into machines and live forever in cyberspace, has become commonplace. This view now affects robotics and AI funding, play in online games, and philosophical and theological conversations about morality and human dignity.
Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) 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. (shrink)
Over the coming decades, Artificial Intelligence will profoundly impact the way we live, work, wage war, play, seek a mate, educate our young, and care for our elderly. It is likely to greatly increase our aggregate wealth, but it will also upend our labor markets, reshuffle our social order, and strain our private and public institutions. Eventually it may alter how we see our place in the universe, as machines pursue goals independent of their creators and outperform us in domains (...) previously believed to be the sole dominion of humans. Whether we regard them as conscious or unwitting, revere them as a new form of life or dismiss them as mere clever appliances, is beside the point. They are likely to play an increasingly critical and intimate role in many aspects of our lives. The emergence of systems capable of independent reasoning and action raises serious questions about just whose interests they are permitted to serve, and what limits our society should place on their creation and use. Deep ethical questions that have bedeviled philosophers for ages will suddenly arrive on the steps of our courthouses. Can a machine be held accountable for its actions? Should intelligent systems enjoy independent rights and responsibilities, or are they simple property? Who should be held responsible when a self-driving car kills a pedestrian? Can your personal robot hold your place in line, or be compelled to testify against you? If it turns out to be possible to upload your mind into a machine, is that still you? The answers may surprise you. (shrink)
Transhumanism is an ideology that embraces the use of various forms of biotechnology to enhance human beings toward the emergence of a “posthuman” kind. In this article, I contrast some of the foundational tenets of Transhumanism with those of Christianity, primarily focusing on their respective anthropologies—that is, their diverse understandings of whether there is an essential nature shared by all human persons and, if so, whether certain features of human nature may be intentionally altered in ways that contribute toward how (...) each views human flourishing. A central point of difference concerns Transhumanists’ aim of attaining “substrate independence” for the human mind, such that one’s consciousness could be uploaded into a cybernetic environment. Christian anthropology, on the other hand, considers embodiment, with its characteristics of vulnerability and finitude, to be an essential feature of human nature—hence, Christians’ belief in bodily resurrection. Despite Christianity and Transhumanism having fundamental differences, I contend that Christians may support moderate forms of enhancement oriented toward supporting our flourishing as living, sentient, social, and rational animals. (shrink)
The belief that computers will soon become transcendently intelligent and that human beings will “upload” their minds into machines has become ubiquitous in public discussions of robotics and artificial intelligence in Western cultures. Such beliefs are the result of pervasive Judaeo-Christian apocalyptic beliefs, and they have rapidly spread through modern pop and technological culture, including such varied and influential sources as Rolling Stone, the IEEE Spectrum, and official United States government reports. They have gained sufficient credibility to enable the construction (...) of Singularity University in California. While different approaches are possible (and, indeed, are common in Japan and possibly elsewhere), this particular vision of artificial intelligence and robotics has gained ground in the West through the influence of figures such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil. Because pop-science books help frame public discussion of new sciences and technologies for individuals, corporations, and governments alike, the integration of religious and technoscientific claims made by their authors should be clear and open for public and scientific debate. As we move forward into an increasingly robotic future, we should do so aware of the ways in which a group's religious environment can help set the tone for public acceptance and use of robotic technologies. (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)