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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Professor Hilary Putnam has been one of the most influential and sharply original of recent American philosophers in a whole range of fields. His most important published work is collected here, together with several new and substantial studies, in two volumes. The first deals with the philosophy of mathematics and of science and the nature of philosophical and scientific enquiry; the second deals with the philosophy of language and mind. Volume one is now issued in a new edition, including (...) an essay on the philosophy of logic first published in 1971. (shrink)
"The philosophy of mind is unique among contemporary philosophical subjects," writes John Searle, "in that all of the most famous and influential theories are false." In Mind, Searle dismantles these famous and influential theories as he presents a vividly written, comprehensive introduction to the mind. Here readers will find one of the world's most eminent thinkers shedding light on the central concern of modern philosophy. Searle begins with a look at the twelve problems of philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>mind--which he calls "Descartes and Other Disasters"--problems which he returns to throughout the volume, as he illuminates such topics as the freedom of the will, the actual operation of mental causation, the nature and functioning of the unconscious, the analysis of perception, and the concept of the self. One of the key chapters is on the mind-body problem, which Searle analyzes brilliantly. He argues that all forms of consciousness--from feeling thirsty to wondering how to translate Mallarme--are caused by the behavior of neurons and are realized in the brain system, which is itself composed of neurons. But this does not mean that consciousness is nothing but neuronal behavior. The main point of having the concept of consciousness, Searle points out, is to capture the first person subjective features of the phenomenon and this point is lost if we redefine consciousness in third person objective terms. Described as a "dragonslayer by temperament," John Searle offers here a refreshingly direct and open discussion of philosophy, one that skewers accepted wisdom even as it offers striking new insights into the nature of consciousness and the mind. (shrink)
This now-classic work challenges what Ryle calls philosophy's "official theory," the Cartesians "myth" of the separation of mind and matter. Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language. His plain language and esstentially simple purpose place him in the traditioin of Locke, Berkeley, Mill, and Russell.
Shapiro tests these hypotheses against two rivals, the mental constraint thesis and the embodied mind thesis. Collecting evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and embodied cognition) he concludes that the multiple realizability thesis, accepted by most philosophers as a virtual truism, is much less obvious than commonly assumed, and that there is even stronger reason to give up the separability thesis. In contrast to views of mind that tempt us to see the mind (...) as simply being resident in a brain or body, Shapiro argues for a far more encompassing integration of mind, brain, and body than philosophers have supposed. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
A provocative assessment of human thought and behavior, reissued with a new afterword, explores a range of conundrums from the ability of the mind to perceive three dimensions to the nature of consciousness, in an account that draws on ...
Matthew Soteriou provides an original philosophical account of sensory and cognitive aspects of consciousness. He explores distinctions of temporal character in our mental lives--especially in relation to the exercise of agency--and illuminates the more general issue of the place and role of mental action in the metaphysics of mind.
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES about the Mind-Body Identity Theory form a case-study for the investigation of the methods practiced by linguistic philosophers. Recent criticisms of these methods question that philosophers can discern lines of demarcation between "categories" of entities, and thereby diagnose "conceptual confusions" in "reductionist" philosophical theories. Such doubts arise once we see that it is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to draw a firm line between the "conceptual" and the "empirical," and thus to differentiate between a statement embodying a (...) conceptual confusion and one that expresses a surprising empirical result. The proponent of the Identity Theory are identical with certain brain-processes) holds that his opponents' arguments to the effect that empirical inquiry could not identify brain-processes and sensations are admirable illustrations of this difficulty. For, he argues, the classifications of linguistic expressions that are the ground of his opponents' criticism are classifications of a language which is as it is because it is the language spoken at a given stage of empirical inquiry. But the sort of empirical results that would show brain processes and sensations to be identical would also bring about changes in our ways of speaking. These changes would make these classifications out of date. To argue against the Identity Theory on the basis of the way we talk now is like arguing against an assertion that supernatural phenomena are identical with certain natural phenomena on the basis of the way in which superstitious people talk. There is simply no such thing as a method of classifying linguistic expressions that has results guaranteed to remain intact despite the results of future empirical inquiry. Thus in this area there is no method which will have the sort of magisterial neutrality of which linguistic philosophers fondly dream. (shrink)
_Wittgenstein, Mind and Meaning_ offers a provocative re-reading of Wittgenstein's later writings on language and mind, and explores the tensions between Wittgenstein's ideas and contemporary cognitivist conceptions of the mental. This book addresses both Wittgenstein's later works as well as contemporary issues in philosophy of mind. It provides fresh insight into the later Wittgenstein and raises vital questions about the foundations of cognitivism and its wider implications for psychology and cognitive science.
What are the most fundamental features of the world? Do minds stand outside the natural order? Is a unified picture of mental and physical reality possible? The Mind in Nature provides a staunchly realist account of the world as a unified system incorporating both the mental and the physical.
What is attention? How does attention shape consciousness? In an approach that engages with foundational topics in the philosophy of mind, the theory of action, psychology, and the neurosciences this book provides a unified and comprehensive answer to both questions. Sebastian Watzl shows that attention is a central structural feature of the mind. The first half of the book provides an account of the nature of attention. Attention is prioritizing, it consists in regulating priority structures. Attention is not (...) another element of the mind, but constituted by structures that organize, integrate, and coordinate the parts of our mind. Attention thus integrates the perceptual and intellectual, the cognitive and motivational, and the epistemic and practical. The second half of the book concerns the relationship between attention and consciousness. Watzl argues that attentional structure shapes consciousness into what is central and what is peripheral. The center-periphery structure of consciousness cannot be reduced to the structure of how the world appears to the subject. What it is like for us thus goes beyond the way the world appears to us. On this basis, a new view of consciousness is offered. In each conscious experience we actively take a stance on the world we appear to encounter. It is in this sense that our conscious experience is our subjective perspective. (shrink)
How do rational minds make contact with the world? The empiricist tradition sees a gap between mind and world, and takes sensory experience, fallible as it is, to provide our only bridge across that gap. In its crudest form, for example, the traditional idea is that our minds consult an inner realm of sensory experience, which provides us with evidence about the nature of external reality. Notoriously, however, it turns out to be far from clear that there is any (...) viable conception of experience which allows it to do the job. The original problem is to show that thought is rationally constrained by external reality. If sensory experience is to provide the solution--in particular, if it is to provide the answer to sceptical challenges--it must therefore meet two criteria. First, it must itself be `receptive'--i.e., appropriately constrained by external reality. Second, it must be the kind of thing that can enter into a logical or rational relationship with belief--it must already be `conceptual,' in other words. In arguing against the idea that anything could serve both roles, Wilfred Sellars termed this conception of experience "the Myth of the Given.". (shrink)
The title of The Rediscovery of the Mind suggests the question "When was the mind lost?" Since most people may not be aware that it ever was lost, we must also then ask "Who lost it?" It was lost, of course, only by philosophers, by certain philosophers. This passed unnoticed by society at large. The "rediscovery" is also likely to pass unnoticed. But has the mind been rediscovered by the same philosophers who "lost" it? Probably not. John (...) Searle is an analytic philosopher, with some of the same notions as the positivists and behaviorists who rejected consciousness and "lost" the mind in the first place, but he also does not sound like the kind of reductionist who would have joined that crowd. His views, indeed, are sensible enough, and some of his insights so important, that it is a shame to find his thought profoundly limited by some of the same mistakes and prejudices that ruined philosophy, and not just philosophy of mind, under the influence of those positivists and behaviorists. There is enough of genuine value in his treatment, that it can easily be taken up and, with relatively slight modification, added to what is of permanent value in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Cognitive science is the project of understanding the mind by modelling its workings. Its development is one of the most remarkable and fascinating intellectual achievements of the modern era. Mind as Machine is a masterful history of cognitive science, told by one of its most eminent practitioners.