Tehran’s streets may be bloody, says Douglas Rushkoff, but the opposition has won the digital war. The battleground: Facebook and Twitter. The weapons: bandwidth and hacking. The prize: the end of totalitarianism.
As shocking as the Simulation Argument is, it’s (arguably) a revelation that’s no less shocking than previous existential paradigm shifts. While undoubtedly disturbing to the people alive at the time, previous civilizations have come to grips with the knowledge that they do not live on a flat Earth nor at the center of the Universe.
The term “mindclone” evokes a wide range of sci-fi images from the “Cylons” of Battlestar Galactica to the “Mr. Smiths” of The Matrix. While it is indisputable that we are creating large mindfiles, as described in Question 1, and surely there are geeks working hard on mindware, as reviewed in Question 2, how close could we be to an actual mindclone when computers can’t converse on their own much better than a two-year old kid?
A mindclone is a software version of your mind. He or she is all of your thoughts, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values, and is experiencing reality from the standpoint of whatever machine their mindware is running on. Mindclones are mindfiles being used and updated by mindware that has been set to be a functionally equivalent replica of one’s mind. A mindclone is your software-based alter ego, doppelganger, or mental twin. If your body died, but you had a mindclone, you would not feel that you personally died, although the body would be missed more sorely than amputees miss their limbs.
Human beings are social animals; we devote a significant portion of our brain just to dealing with interactions with other humans. It should come as no surprise, then, that social Web technologies have a complex relationship with brain function. When these platforms work in concert with our social brains, they can enable persistent relationships or provide emotional/social augmentation. When social web technologies clash with brain function, however, the results can be surprising.
As previously noted in this series, our entire world may be simulated. For all we know we’re sitting on a powerful supercomputer somewhere, the mere playthings of posthuman intelligences. But this is not the only possibility. There’s another way that this kind of fully immersive ‘reality’ could be realized—one that doesn’t require the simulation of an entire world. Indeed, it’s quite possible that your life is not what it seems—that what you think of as reality is actually an illusion of the senses. You could be experiencing a completely immersive and totally convincing virtual reality right now and you don’t even know it.
Does championing Enlightenment values require complete rejection of collaboration and dialogue with the religious? Could technoprogressives even learn something from Easter about how to design moral machines?
No longer relegated to the domain of science fiction or the ravings of street corner lunatics, the “simulation argument” has increasingly become a serious theory amongst academics, one that has been best articulated by philosopher Nick Bostrom.
Mindware is operating system software that (a) thinks and feels the way a human mind does, and (b) sets its thinking and feeling parameters to match those discernable from a mindfile. Mindware relies upon an underlying mindfile the way Microsoft Word relies upon a textfile. When appropriate parameters are set for mindware it becomes aware of itself and a cyberconscious entity is created.
Without a doubt some of my favorite video games of all time have been those that involve simulations, including SimCity and The Sims. When I play these games I fancy myself a demigod, managing and manipulating the slew of variables made available to me; with the click of a mouse I can alter the environment and adjust the nature of the simulated inhabitants themselves.
A mindfile is the sum of saved digital reflections about you. All of the stored emails, chats, texts, IMs and blogs that you write are part of your mindfile. All of the uploaded photos, slide shows and movies that involve you are part of your mindfile. Your search histories, clicked selections and online purchases, if saved, are part of your mindfile. Your digital life is your mindfile.
I have my doubts about Google’s new plan to better target advertising to meet our transient interests. As yet another manifestation of the idea of only showing us the ads we want to see, when we want to see them, it will inevitably stumble over the reality that we often don’t use the Internet in ways that fit advertisers’ assumptions. Machines get shared, people use multiple browsers, and, increasingly, web users are savvy about being able to block ads, regardless of how targeted they may claim to be.
Abstract: This paper examines how ‘surveillance medicine’ (Armstrong 1995) has expanded the realm of the medical gaze via its infiltration of cyberspace, where specific features of healthism are now present. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of biopower, we examine how digital health resources offer new ways through which to discipline individuals and regulate populations. The emergence of health regulation within and through cyberspace takes place in a context wherein the relationship between the body and technology is rendered more complex. Departing from early literature on cyberspace, which claimed that the body was absent in virtual worlds, we articulate a medicalized cyberspace within which the virtual and corporeal are enmeshed.
As with any medical discovery, an in-depth look needs to be taken regarding the impact and effects on society. The Internet offers a new world of communication and opportunities for individuals to be in touch with one another. Andy Miah and Emma Rich do a commendable job with this in their recent publication The Medicalization of Cyberspace.
Universal mind uploading, or universal uploading for short, is the concept, by no means original to me, that the technology of mind uploading will eventually become universally adopted by all who can afford it, similar to the adoption of modern agriculture, hygiene, or living in houses.
The Order of Cosmic Engineers are a group of transhumanists who are focused on “turning this universe into a ‘magical’ realm.” They focus on building their activity in online virtual reality worlds. They include IEET Board member Giulio Prisco and IEET advisor Martine Rothblatt. They have recently issued the “YES! to Transhumanism” statement which is a call to arms for defense of radical transhumanism against pressures to downplay the more challenging and futuristic aspects of the transhumanist perspective.
No, I’m not talking about Heat Death or another Ice Age. I’m talking about what could happen if mind uploading becomes universally or near-universally adopted and every mind is accelerated by a factor of several million or billion. Such an outcome seems inevitable if mind uploading is actually possible.
Would-be censors often justify themselves by claiming that certain kinds of material are harmful to children, and so must be kept out of public sight. It’s worth thinking about this before we simply accept it at face value.
Virtual Reality (VR) has advanced to incredible heights. For those who haven’t kept up with the gaming scene, the newest game renowned for impressive graphics is Fallout 3. Of course, graphics aren’t all that matters to gamers, which is why another one of the hottest games on the block right now is Spore, which looks very cartoonish.
The Future of Humanity Institute, founded and run by IEET founder and chair Nick Bostrom, has just published a roadmap of the scientific research and technological innovations required to eventually completely model the human brain in software.
The Metaverse Roadmap Overview, an exploration of imminent 3D technologies, posited a number of different scenarios of what a future “metaverse” could look like. The four scenarios—augmented reality, life-logging, virtual worlds, and mirror worlds—each offered a different manifestation of an immersive 3D world. Of the four, I suspect that augmented reality is most likely to be widespread soon; moreover, when it hits, it’s going to have a surprisingly big impact. Not just in terms of “making the invisible visible”—showing us flows and information that we otherwise wouldn’t recognize—but also in terms of the opposite: making the visible invisible.
The fourth of the six articles in the special anti-transhumanism issue of The Global Spiral (June 2008) is “Wrestling with Transhumanism” by well-known critic Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Professor of English and media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.