20/12/2021 | Philosophy/Ethics, Tech |
In this millennium, we are witnessing the greatest scientific and technological revolution of all times and we are confronting ourselves with an unprecedented debate about Brain Regeneration, Artificial Intelligence and Neuroprosthesesz for brain function restoration and enhancement.
We understand the brain better and better, but there still is a lot to discover ( Uploading your mind )
With Carlo Ierna, historian of philosophy at Radboud University we have been making a journey across some history at the origins of contemporary technology, recent disruptive news about brain chip implant and robots replacing humans.
The articles draw the attention of the scientific community as well as the general audience to different topics and arising questions about uploading and downloading consciousness, whether it is possible to transfer information directly from one brain to another over the internet…
…the relation between body and mind, and mind and behavior.
We have been investigating the origin of AI
A machine that could think like a person has been the guiding vision of AI research since the earliest days
We analyzed the relation between
Robot and Humans
About the relation between body and mind, and the brain and the identity
Can we read and write brain signals wirelessly now?
Will we truly be able to read and write memories, emotions, knowledge in the brain?
And then we have been looking at the relation between
Sci-fi and Science
“about the history of science fiction linked to the history of science” (Future of Days Past)
linking the history of science fiction to the history of science, exploring through the science fiction authors’ eyes how technology changes society.
Ethical and research standards have changed a lot…
We have some historical perspective, but we’d need ethics of technology…
BrainJam addresses the social, ethical, and philosophical concerns deriving from the emergence of previously unimaginable technology and its possible future application to the most mysterious organ of the human body: The Brain.
This site is intended to engage in an open dialogue between scientists, society, and policy makers to address the philosophical and ethical concerns arising from the increasing trend of the biotechnology and biomedical fields towards man-machine hybridization. It pursues a holistic approach to human well-being using an interdisciplinary combination of expert perspectives and philosophy, in order to inform the public and correct widespread misconceptions and fears about ‘cyborgs’ and human enhancement, stemming both from transhumanism and bioconservatism.
10/12/2021 | Philosophy/Ethics, Tech |
Once the hegemony of skin and skull is usurped, we may be able to see ourselves more truly as creatures of the world
Clark and Chalmers
Andy Clark and David Chalmers have proposed the “Extended Mind” thesis. This is the claim that there are things in the world, beyond our skull, like a notepad or a smartphone, that do not just help us think and remember, but should be considered as part of our mind.
Clark and Chalmers argue that
“beliefs can be constituted partly by features of the environment, when those features play the right sort of role in driving cognitive processes. If so, the mind extends into the world.”
In order to support this claim, they provide the examples of Inga and Otto, an Alzheimer patient.
Inga can remember directions and find her way, just by using her brain. Otto, due to his condition, cannot do so completely autonomously but needs support in the form of a notebook. Clark and Chalmers then claim: “For Otto, his notebook plays the role usually played by a biological memory.” Since Otto’s notebook plays the “right sort of role”, the same role played by Inga’s brain, the notebook too can claim “epistemic credit”.
Similarly to Minsky’s definition of AI
(we would call a program “intelligent” if it did things in a way that we would call “intelligent” if a human did them), they conclude:
“If, as we confront some task, a part of the world functions as a process which, were it done in the head, we would have no hesitation in recognizing as part of the cognitive process, then that part of the world is (so we claim) part of the cognitive process.”
In the text, it seems that for Clark and Chalmers “external” means “outside the skull”. In the history of philosophy the brain itself has often also been thought to be “external” and “part of the world” with respect to the mind, consciousness, subjectivity, etc.
Don’t Clark and Chalmers actually mean to speak of an “extended brain” rather than an “extended mind”?
It also seems that their distinction between internal and external elements is not sharp, but gradual. The extension seems to be a slippery slope. Clark and Chalmers discuss the reliability of coupling between the mind and its tools, whether they are always readily available or not:
“Counting on our fingers has already been let in the door, for example, and it is easy to push things further. Think of the old image of the engineer with a slide rule hanging from his belt wherever he goes. What if people always carried a pocket calculator, or had them implanted?”
This last suggestion is highly suggestive. Clark and Chalmers at various points mention “neural implants” from a “cyberpunk future”.
Due to the appeal to neural implants, the meaning of “external” now seems to shift, encompassing also things inside the skull and even inside the brain. This ambiguity and elasticity of “external” (vs mind or vs brain) suggest that the distinction is actually quite gradual.
Where Otto needs notes and a map on a handheld brain, Inga has them memorized in her biological brain. We can turn the argument around by saying that Inga needs the notes and the maps as much as Otto, and that her brain is just as external to her mind as Otto’s handheld tools.
Would anything substantial change if we were able to put those tools in Otto’s brain too?
Chalmers and Clark argue that
“In the distant future we may be able to plug various modules into our brain to help us out: a module for extra short-term memory when we need it, for example. When a module is plugged in, the processes involving it are just as cognitive as if they had been there all along.”
A scant 20 years later, the future is upon us: we have brain implants that redress disabilities and restore normal brain function. Such implants involve bio-hybrid technology: symbiotic integration of bioengineered brain tissue, neuromorphic microelectronics, and AI. Such devices further blur the distinction between “internal” (inside the brain) and “external” (outside the brain) extensions, while not touching the more principled distinction between mind and the physical world at large (including the brain).
So what exactly is being extended? From where and into what?
Perhaps it makes more sense to say that it is not so much the mind that is extended, as its symbolic tools.
03/12/2021 | Philosophy/Ethics, Tech
Science fiction is often described, and even defined, as extrapolative. The science fiction writer is supposed to take a trend or phenomenon of the here-and-now, purify and intensify it for dramatic effect, and extend it into the future.
Strictly extrapolative works of science fiction generally arrive about where the Club of Rome arrives: somewhere between the gradual extinction of human liberty and the total extinction of terrestrial life
Introduction to “The Left Hand of Darkness”
Ursula Le Guin,1969
Manuel and John are talking about the following article:
It’s not about tomorrow, 1: Ursula Le Guin
In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters“
Hi there John, everything allright?
Hi Manuel, yep, I got all kinds of feedback and suggestions 😊
That’s great! My editor will be pleased 😊
A student of Cho also sent me some very interesting material about the history of science fiction linked to the history of science
Oh, very interesting! Were you thinking of a follow-up for context?
Indeed, a supplementary article, I’ll forward it to you with my comments.
I’ll check it out and forward it to my editor then.
Thanks! I think it does add depth and perspective 😉
So what do you think about the piece as it is?
Well, we did add a lot of new innovations beyond the “Prophets of Science Fiction
” series …
I sense some hesitation in your words …?
Yeah, well I just think we should add something about he ethical and societal implications of it all
That’s a good point actually, not just hyping or criticizing the hype would be nice 😊
Also a lot of these science fiction authors did precisely that: look at how technology changes society
Then we should definitely include something more reflective, a more abstract perspective
Thanks to Julia, Cho’s student, we have some historical perspective, but we’d need ethics of technology
You’re right, there’s a lot of work being one on that front, which we might include in a follow up
I’ll check out some of the projects underway to guide responsible innovation
Good idea! 😊I’ll pitch the need for a follow up article to my editor!
… Continue reading our conversations that are posted every Saturday …