Call for Papers: Transhumanism, Cognitive Enhancement and AI

Call for Papers: Special Issue: Transhumanism, Cognitive Enhancement and AI

The journal Minds and Machines invites submissions for a special issue on the topic of transhumanism, cognitive enhancement, cyborgization, uploading and artificial intelligence.

Further details here: [link]

6 Responses to “Call for Papers: Transhumanism, Cognitive Enhancement and AI”

  1. I’ve been reading Greg Egan and I’m in the spirit! Too many other projects going now though, so this sort of thing has to be filed in the “someday, maybe” category. I do think there are all kinds of cool philosophical implications and quandaries. Hm, maybe I should work up a blog post or two!

  2. Pete Mandik says:

    What Egan have you been reading? My faves of his are his novel Diaspora and a short story called “Reasons to be Cheerful”.

    He has the best grasp of phil mind and cog sci of any Sci Fi author I’ve encountered so far.

  3. I read Diaspora last year and just finished Permutation City a couple weeks ago. I liked Diaspora better, but there was plenty to think about in Permutation City, too — especially exactly why that crazy “dust hypothesis” has to be false!

    He’s a gold-mine for ideas about transhuman cognition! Where is “Reasons to be Cheerful” collected?

  4. Pete Mandik says:

    I read “Reasons” as an ebook from fictionwise, but if you google around you might find additional sources. Here’s the fictionwise link (which contains an informative excerpt_:

    http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook975.htm?cache

    Permutation City was a lot of fun. I like the stuff early on about the irrelevance of objective time and temporal order for the functional realization of time consciousness.

    Also, yeah, dust theory! It’s fun to wonder what sort of modal realism is thereby presupposed. Does dust theory entail trans-world causation(whereby proving something possible makes a possible world in which it is actual spring into existence)? Or are we, the reader, simply having our attention shifted from one world to the next each time one of the characters does one of their proofs? It’s been a few years, so maybe I’m not remembering the book correctly.

  5. Thanks, Pete! (I lost track of this thread ’til now.)

    What’s cool about the dust theory, in my mind, is that it seems to follow naturally from the more plausible view that temporal order and spatial location don’t matter. As long as somewhere in the universe a configuration like the one needed for your next time slice is instantiated, you’re good to go! One assumption dust theory needs in order to work (I think) is that counterfactuals are not important, since the counterfactual relationships in real functional transitions in the brain are going to be very different from those of the dispersed states by means of which you are instantiated in the dust theory. But it’s tempting for me to make that assumption since I’m not keen on things modal. How can my consciousness now be somehow constitutively dependent on what would have happened if…?

    So I think underneath it, dust theory is very modally irrealist. But maybe this is just my own particular way of spinning it out….

    (Well, there’s the kernel of the post I was thinking of writing about it.)

  6. Paul Patton says:

    One of the topics mentioned in the title of this thread is uploading. If one accepts a functionalist view of mind, then uploading is possible in principle if the brain is somehow scanned and a functionally isomorphic duplicate is created as a computer model. This is fine in principle, but I have yet to see an even remotely plausible speculation about how it might ever be actually accomplished with future technology. Nanotechnology guru Eric Drexler suggested that the brain of the uploadee might first be frozen (or vitrified) using cryonics techniques, and then disassembled molecular monolayer by molecular monolayer by a planar array of nanomachines. The hypothetical nanomachines might record the position and identity of each molecule as it is detached. The problem with this proposal is that it assumes that biological molecules are easily detachable lumps, like bricks in a stack of bricks. Real biological molecules (DNA, myosin, actin, collagens, etc.) are often long and stringy, and so don’t seem amenable to being easily detached in this way. There is also the huge problem of determining the identity of each molecule as it is removed. Have there been any serious proposals about how any of these problems might plausibly be resolved by some imaginable future technology? If not, then it doesn’t seem to me that uploading warrents discussion as anything other than a philosopher’s thought experiment.