a reply to: ogbert
If organics create conscience; and, then man creates through that consciousness; wouldn't that be like a dream within a dream?
That's probably a more fundamental problem. But that's my point. By simply thinking about this subject - in a manner more thorough than Kurzweil -
issues pop up again and again, from quantum physics to the fact that we are biological organisms dependent on a body, to the seemingly insurmountable
complexities of duplicating neuronal electrochemical patterns, and upon this arcane basis, still, there's this wishfulness to believe that the
problems aren't that big to begin with.
Hence my claim that a psychoanalytical perspective takes the case, literally surrounds everything we do. We can believe all we want our fictions about
our limitless potential, but there is also those nagging realities that a narcissistic focus upon objects tries to dissociate; but its those
realities, those denied experiences, which ultimately shape our naive propensities to believe what should be looked at more honestly.
The computer-neuroscientist Sebastian Seung claims were a mere 100 years away from decoding the brain. I'm skeptical of this claim; and I'm also
skeptical of those computer wizzes who explain the difficulty away by assuming super-computes will take-over at some point. However, even from a
neuroscientific viewpoint, we need information about how the brain organizes itself at a microlevel. Today, what we know of the brain is 'macro';
imaging techniques allow us to infer relationships between brain regions and phenomenological activity in mind and body. That is to say, our imaging
technology, in terms of what we is necessary to 'duplicate' consciousness (which means at the micro-physical level) is primitive beyond belief. The
advancements needed in this area are no thing short of paradigm shifting. As Seung noted, it needs the specificity of an electron-micrscope and the
real time fluidity of imaging technology.
Then, of course, there is the issue of: so is that it? Is consciousness nothing more than the global patterns between brain regions? To break this
down further: the brain has dozens upon dozens of feedback loops and systems that roughly correspond to some of our phenomenological experiences; such
as the wake-sleep cycle, our emotional cycles; immunological systems, etc. These systems are chemical and interchemical. Dopamine systems have effects
upon noradrenaline systems which have effects upon the stress response system; and in this loopiness there are two simultaneous 'worlds' interfacing
with each other; the body-based chemical systems which maintain body and consciousness, and consciousness itself.
At the same time, there is an environment with a body that is built to interact with it. We take for granted our 'embodiedness'; the fact that our
central nervous system 'goes inside' our physical body as our peripheral nervous system. Our heart, our gut and our groin region have many neurons
in them, and our feeling of embodiment is a combination of this sensorimotor efferent and afferent activity coupled with a physical environment in
which we operate within.
So not, only does this idea of the 'singularity' entail removing us from embodied physiological existence; it also entails a) sustain the biological
organism; or, somehow 'transferring consciousness' - and that has its own logical issues, such as, 'when' do you become the computer program? When
the copying completes itself, do you simply 'reappear as a computer program'? Or do you need to be killed, that is, your brain physically 'shut
down', in order for the transfer to happen? Lets say that happens. There is still the issue of maintaining the hardware upon which your new virtual
existence is based-upon. Who will do that? Some slave species? lol Robots?
The more we discover about the complexity of biological processes, the less and less plausible these 'visions' of a computer existence become. Even
some of our more audacious claims about genetic engineering are bogus. We can't control processes; were baffled and mystified by the bodies chemical
systems. It took us 277 times to create Dolly; and even then, she dealt with arthritis at 2 years old and died at 6. Epigenetic inheritance systems
are complicated as hell, and the complications only become magnified as we take into mind larger body chemical systems, environmental chemical
factors, and mental influences upon biological function.
Again, I can't help but mention how valid a psychodynamic viewpoint is in explaining 'why' we humans do this. Evolution has given us many useful
concepts and it has even supplemented psychoanalysis with a cogent understanding of primary motivational systems. The 'cognitive' functions we
humans possess, which gives us such 'power' over the world around us, nevertheless is based upon paleomammalian emotional systems. We are still
animals; not gods; and like animals, were led hither and thither by our need for safety - i.e the soothing effect of a mind that 'believes' in
something - such as mankinds own 'transcendent' godliness. In believing as we do, as recklessly as we are wont to do, we ignore our evolved instinct
to 'control' the world with our left-brained manipulations; our habit of seeing cause and patterns in things which are shady and amorphous. As
quantum mechanics made clear so long ago, and as our biological sciences have still not understood, linear-reality is an illusion built by a mind that
believes its own observations. Our observations 'feedback' into us - the observer, who then become motivated and encouraged by dopamine systems to
explore further what has thus far titillated him. But being moved and shaped and conditioned by our observations is just what reality DOES; it
doesn't mean we are getting any closer to solving reality in any linear cause/effect sort of way.
Wisdom, I think, entails the acceptance of paradox. Wave/Particle duality corresponds with our Emotion/Thought duality. Just as waves create
potentials for a particle to 'be somewhere'; so emotions drive our bodily systems to 'think' something in accordance with our emotional positions.
Non-linear dynamics is about as close as we can get to understanding reality. Which is to say, we need to let go of this reductionistic urge to reduce
mind to matter or matter to mind.