Humanity is on the threshold of technologies so great; we may not be mature enough to handle them. The converging technologies predicted by Kurzweil’s Singularity offer technological paradigm-shifts. More interestingly to me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may become more self-aware than humans. The imperatives for creating smarter-than-human AI sheds light on a possible solution to our blind drive for more technology without consideration.
Sep 1, 2013
Does machine consciousness matter?by Dylan Chandler
Named for its creator Alan Turing, the Turing test is meant to test a machine’s intelligence by assessing its conversational abilities (Bieri, 1988, 163). Turing adapted the test to suit machines from an existing test, the Imitation Game, wherein a man and a woman would converse via teletype (Bieri, 1988, 163).
Sep 1, 2013
Andy Clark on Extended Mind and the Future of IntelligenceHowardRheingold
In contrast to contemporary arguments that using the web is making people and culture dumber and shallower, Andy Clark advocates the idea that knowledgeable use of digital media might, as Doug Engelbart put it, raise the collective IQ of cultures and extend the minds of individuals.
Andy Clark (BA, DPhil, Stirling) was appointed to the Chair in Logic and Metaphysics in 2004. He teaches at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on Philosophy of Mind, Artificial Intelligence, including robotics, artificial life, embodied cognition, and mind, technology and culture. Prior to that he had taught at the Universities of Glasgow, Sussex, Washington (St Louis), where he was Director of the Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology Program, and Indiana.
From Robocop to the Terminator to Eve 8, no image better captures our deepest fears about technology than the cyborg, the person who is both flesh and metal, brain and electronics. But philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark sees it differently. Cyborgs, he writes, are not something to be feared—we already are cyborgs.
In Natural-Born Cyborgs, Clark argues that what makes humans so different from other species is our capacity to fully incorporate tools and supporting cultural practices into our existence. Technology as simple as writing on a sketchpad, as familiar as Google or a cellular phone, and as potentially revolutionary as mind-extending neural implants—all exploit our brains' astonishingly plastic nature. Our minds are primed to seek out and incorporate non-biological resources, so that we actually think and feel through our best technologies.
Drawing on his expertise in cognitive science, Clark demonstrates that our sense of self and of physical presence can be expanded to a remarkable extent, placing the long-existing telephone and the emerging technology of telepresence on the same continuum. He explores ways in which we have adapted our lives to make use of technology (the measurement of time, for example, has wrought enormous changes in human existence), as well as ways in which increasingly fluid technologies can adapt to individual users during normal use. Bio-technological unions, Clark argues, are evolving with a speed never seen before in history.
As we enter an age of wearable computers, sensory augmentation, wireless devices, intelligent environments, thought-controlled prosthetics, and rapid-fire information search and retrieval, the line between the user and her tools grows thinner day by day. "This double whammy of plastic brains and increasingly responsive and well-fitted tools creates an unprecedented opportunity for ever-closer kinds of human-machine merger," he writes, arguing that such a merger is entirely natural.
A stunning new look at the human brain and the human self, Natural Born Cyborgs reveals how our technology is indeed inseparable from who we are and how we think.
Aug 18, 2013
“We have a moral imperative to research moral enhancement”TEDxBarcelona
At a TEDx conference in Barcelona last month, Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu shared his views on using medicine and technology for “moral enhancement”. According to Savulescu, humans urgently need to develop their moral capacities if we are to solve the range of “problems we have created for ourselves” (such as high rates of murder and sexual assault). Savulescu discusses the moral enhancement brought about by drugs like Oxytocin and Ritalin—we need more of these moral medicines, he claims, if we are to survive the coming decades.
Aug 8, 2013
Will the Posthuman Age be Postmoral?by Daryl Wennemann
A great part of the anxiety associated with the prospect of a posthuman age arises from the possibility that a posthuman age will also be a postmoral age. Francis Fukuyama’s work Our Posthuman Future focused on the possibility that genetically altered human beings might be incapable of recognizing traditional moral boundaries. The traditional Western ideal of the equality of all human persons seems to vanish with the development of superhuman beings.
Aug 8, 2013
Dirty Liberals! Cleanliness Priming of Moral CognitionChangesurfer Radio
Dr. J. chats with Erik Helzer (Dept of Psychology, Cornell University) co-author of the paper “Dirty Liberals!: Reminders of physical cleanliness influence moral and political attitudes” in Psychological Science. They discuss the growing literature on the ways that political attitudes are driven by disgust sensitivity, and by disgust priming such as bad smells and sticky hands. Listen also to the 2004 Changesurfer interview with Martha Nussbaum about her book Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law. (First broadcast April 5, 2011)
Jul 31, 2013
Morality Substitutes or Moral Enhancement?by Richard Stallman
In this response to John Danaher’s piece on Moral Enhancement (Part 1, Part 2,Part 3) Richard Stallman interrogates the difference between morality substitutes and morality enhancers, and the role of cognition in moral behavior.
Jul 31, 2013
It’s Hard to be a Fat Transhumanistby J. Hughes
It’s hard to be fat in general, but as a spokesperson for a movement purporting to advocate the evolution of humanity to greater health, ability and longevity I was always embarrassed about the weight I was carrying around. (I have a New Yorker cartoon on my wall of a fat man telling a disappointed thin man “I’m from your future.”) Recently through cyborgification I’ve been able to get back into my recommended weight range. Knowing that some of my friends are either curious if I’m seriously ill, or how I accomplished this, I thought I’d share the story.
Jul 21, 2013
Moral Enhancement and Superficiality (pt3)by John Danaher
Suppose you are an athlete, training for the Olympic games. Your coach enters your changing room one morning and offers you a choice. You can either follow a rigorous training program for the next six months, or you can take a handful of magic pills and take the next six months off. Either way you’ll be prepared for the Olympic games. Which should you choose?
Jul 18, 2013