“Since I was a child, I have always loved a good story. I believed the stories helped us to ennoble ourselves – to fix what was broken in us and to help us to become the people we dreamed of being, lies that told a deeper truth.” (Westworld, 2016)
One such story is the tale of Descartes’. Rene Descartes was mathematician and philosopher born in France 1596, who gave birth to many of our western philosophies and the phrase “I think therefore I am”. Towards the end of his life, Descartes was summoned by queen Christina of Sweden to tutor and share his dream on the unification of the sciences. Upon boarding the ship, he notified the sailors that he would be traveling with his daughter Francine, however none of the men saw or even heard her whispers on-board.
One night a terrible storm broke loose and one of the sailors hurried to find Descartes and his daughter. Upon entering his room, they found no trace of the girl, but instead a large wooden box which had transcribed on it ‘Bien-aimé’ (Beloved), inside of which was an automaton, a large doll that they thought moved just like a real girl. Descartes daughter was a machine.
The sailors were shocked at the intricacy of her design but their shock quickly turned to terror as the doll sat up from her coffin and turned her head to look the sailors in the eyes. The superstitious sailors thought that the machine was conjured using black magic and the source of the mighty storm. The captain had her thrown overboard and when Francine’s body finally came to rest at the bottom of ocean, the storm subsided.
Not long after arriving in Sweden, Descartes deprived from the presence of his beloved daughter, died of a broken heart. It was later revealed in his writings that the death of his daughter, Francine, was the single biggest tragedy of his life, she passed away at the tender age of 5 as a result of scarlet fever.
This article will explore some of the interesting ideas in the philosophy of mind which by nature extend to the philosophy of artificial intelligence. We ask the question: can machines be more than calculation devices, can machines think, think creatively, innovate, can they feel the same way that you and I feel, can a machine be conscious? For those readers hesitant to the idea I would like to paraphrase Marvin Minsky: aren’t you a machine? A meat machine that can do all of these things? What is so special about the meat?
We will make use of the following structure but feel free to jump into any section that most grabs your attention:
Note that this article is about philosophy and philosophy thrives on controversy. My stance on the topic is not a dogmatic one and I am not trying to challenge any single person’s world view. The mark of an intelligent man is the ability to entertain the ideas of others without accepting them as your own.
The Mind Body Problem
I think therefore I am
The mind body problem refers to the phenomena that we have a body but we also seem to have this separate thing called a mind. That we have consciousness and subjective experiences. Is there a separation of body and mind? Do we follow the philosophy of idealism which quickly opens up to solipsism or do we turn to reductive materialism which says that everything about our minds is due to brain states? A third and well-studied philosophy that tries to solve this problem is substance dualism, set forth by Rene Descartes.
Before we get started it is important for us to discuss the five seemingly obvious philosophical facts
You have a mind and you also have a body.
Your mind and body are normally working together.
When you die your mind and your body no longer work together, this gives birth to a hot debate. Some people think that when you die there is a separation of mind from body, that your body dies but your mind, spirit, or soul goes on to live in the afterlife. Religion answers those questions. Other people believe that when you die both your mind and your body will be snuffed from existence.
I don’t want to focus on the afterlife debate, the second philosophical fact is that the two normally work together.
Your body is physical and publically observable.
It consists of matter, physical stuff, and occupies space, because of this your body is physically observable in the public domain. If you shout people can hear you, if you run then others can watch you.
Your mental life is private.
Your mind is not observable by others, what you imagine can’t be observed by others. When you experience pain then only you experience it, others can be sympathetic but they can in no way actually experience your pain.
You have privileged access to the contents of your mind.
Your mental realm is private, unless you tell someone what you are thinking, there is no way for others to access your mind.
The simplest theory that attempts to address these 5 facts is Substance Dualism. This philosophy has three names (Dualism, Cartesian Dualism, Substance Dualism) but they all refer to the same principle.
According to substance dualism the universe is divided into two radically different realms, the physical and mental. The physical realm consists of matter, of stuff that occupies space in a length, height, and depth, Descartes refers to this as extension. These things exist in space at a specific point in time and they are governed by the laws of physics. Your body is a part of the physical universe.
Then there is the mental realm. This encompasses the abstract, the way things look, your imagination, how you perform mental calculations, your thoughts, hopes, and imaginings. Your consciousness.
Think of canned pineapple, the tin can and the matter inside the can are physical things, but the way the pineapple tastes is a mental thing. You can probably taste pineapple now as you imagine it.
Substance dualism fits these 5 philosophical facts perfectly.
The Evil Demon Thought Experiment (Genius Malignus)
Descartes’ best argument for Dualism is best explained by a thought experiment which starts with the basic philosophical principle set forth by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: If two things are identical, if they are really the same thing then anything that is true of the one must be true of the other, this is known as indiscernible of identicals. It follows that if you find two things and one has something true about it which is not true of the other then they can’t be identical.
Descartes then poses that to have absolute certainty you must dispose of everything that could possibly, in anyway, be uncertain. To throw out everything that can in anyway be subject to doubt. If you do this then what you will be left with, if anything at all, is something absolutely certain.
The evil demon thought experiment puts forth the idea that there is an evil demon tricking all of your senses by providing you with false inputs. How then can you tell if anything is certain? How do you know you are not dreaming? If the demon is manipulating all of your sensory inputs, in order to manipulate your subjective experience, then you have to disposes of all those things.
Maybe the sky isn’t blue, maybe there isn’t a sky. The movies the matrix and inception are based on this concept; how can you tell if you are dreaming? what is real? The first step is to doubt everything!
“Listen very carefully, I shall say ‘zis only once!” (Alo Alo, 1982)
Now let’s suppose you are under the influence of the evil demon, what then can we be certain of? Is there anything we can’t doubt? Can we doubt that we are doubting? No, that we can’t doubt. If you had to doubt that you were doubting, then you would in fact still be doubting. Aha! There is an absolute certainty! That as long as we are thinking then we can’t be deceived about whether we are thinking. As long as we are thinking, we exist, Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I exist.
If I am doubting then I must have a mind, doubting and thinking is something minds do. I think, therefore I have a mind.
The next step is to tie all of this together (Pause at this point – ok – now carry on): I can doubt I have a body but I can’t doubt I have a mind. Therefore, different things are true of my body and my mind. It follows that Leibniz’s principal applies here, my mind can’t be the same as my body and therefore there must be a separation.
We would then conclude that the mind and body are two very different things, your mind can’t be your brain and what is essential to you is not your body but your mind, that the thing we want to live on forever in the afterlife is our minds, or at the very least our sense of being.
Argument Against Dualism
First let’s take a side step and point out that full form substance dualism can’t possibly be true, the core of the problem is that if the mental and physical are such very different things then how can they possibly interact with each other?
How does one thing cause another? The mental realm is supposed to be different to the physical, so how does the mental affect the physical? You can dream all day long about bending the spoon with your mind, you can wish it, and imagine it, but it won’t happen and yet we know that there are causal links between the mind and body. That if you drink a large amount of alcohol which is a physical thing, your mental realm will very quickly change.
The mental also controls the physical, when you are in pain you will make the mental decision to seek out help and your physical body will carry out this mental desire.
Full substance dualism therefore can’t be true and has been criticised as the myth of the ghost inside the machine, but we should not toss the baby out with the water. As you explore the philosophy of mind – the mind body problem continues to rear its head, some of this will become clearer as we explore the hard problem of consciousness.
“A clear implication of functionalism is that we would be able to do psychology by doing robotics”
The Great Courses
Next I would like to introduce functionalism as the dominant theory in the philosophy of mind. It is a theory that steps away from the question of stuffs (i.e. the mental or physical “stuffs”) as previously explained in the mind body problem. It is a position that can be followed regardless of your view on the stuffs, be it the stuff of materialism, the stuffs of subjective idealism, or even the double stuffs of dualism.
Functionalism says that mental states are defined by the way they function and not by their internal composition. i.e. if something looks like it is thinking and acts as if it is thinking then it must be thinking, regardless of what it is made of.
A great example is a mouse trap. What does something have to be in order to be a mouse trap? Does it have to be made of wood with steel springs and space for cheese? No a mouse trap is functionally defined as a device that traps mice.
Extending this idea, the functionalist then says that our mental states are functionally defined. They go on to say that our mental states are functional states that are triggered by particular inputs and result in particular behaviours which also trigger other functional states down the line.
An example of this is the behaviour of fear, this is a mental state that is caused by a series of threatening inputs that then result in a set of flight or fight behaviours like my fists clenching, shouting, and throwing objects across a room, which may also then result in other mental states such as frustration, and painful memories.
Functionalism leads to the possibility of creating artificial intelligence, it follows that anything that has the right functional states will also have beliefs, memories, and hopes just as we do. “If psychology is the study of mental states and if mental states are functional states, then we could study them in anything that has functional states. A clear implication of functionalism is that we would be able to do psychology by doing robotics.” (The Great Courses, 2016) A radical idea but interesting nonetheless.
This will be discussed further when we talk about Alan Turing’s imitation game as a measure for artificial intelligence.
On Robots and the Age of Gods
On the sixth day God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over all the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.
Over the ages since our creation we have told stories that contain a deeper truth, that our descendants will be made in our image, that our children won’t be of the stuffs of carbon but rather silicon, that design will replace DNA, that machines are the next natural step in our evolution.
The stories of artificial people date back thousands of years. Hephaestus the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, and sculptors was known to have built talking mechanical handmaidens made from gold and the great defender Talos, who was a giant automaton made of bronze, sent by Hephaestus to protect Crete.
There are stories of love such as the myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor that curved statues of woman out of ivory until one day he created a statue so beautiful and realistic that he fell in love with it. He secretly wished to Aphrodite that his bride would be “the living likeliness of my ivory girl”. Upon returning home he kissed the ivory statue, discovering her warm lips and tender touch.
The main themes of our stories are those of protection, power, love, creation, and recently in the twentieth century, movies like the terminator and the matrix tell of our creations turning against us resulting in the threat of our extinction.
The Golden Age of Automata (1848-1914)
Automaton are man’s attempt at manifesting our dreams. They are mechanical creations designed to carry out a set of preprogramed operations so that they may give the illusion that they are operating under their own power. The actual word automaton is derived from Greek, meaning “acting of one’s own will”.
King Solomon was said to have used his wisdom in the creation of mechanical beasts that would hail him as king as he ascended the throne. That an eagle would place the crown on his and a dove a scroll in his hand.
My favourite and one of the most remarkable automaton is that of a boy that writes letters using a quill pen. He writes over and over: “I think therefore I am”. At the back of him you are able to see the wonder that is his engineering, cam technology.
Strangely enough Paris was home to the golden age of automata where many family offices were set up during the period 1960 – 1910. The most famous of all the automata is Jacques de Vaucanson’s Digesting Duck, it was an automaton in the form of a duck which gave the appearance of eating, digestion, and then defecating. This invention is famously quoted “without Vaucanson’s duck, you would have nothing to remind you of the glory of France.”
For those readers who are interested, I would recommend the movie Hugo by Martin Scorsese. It takes place shortly after the golden age and is about a boy that lives in Paris with his father, a widowed clockmaker who one day finds a broken automaton.
Modern Day Robots
“The thing missing from robots, machine learning, and automata is autonomy.”
The Great Courses
In modern day society, robots are used all over, from welding robots in car manufacturing to reconnaissance and bomb defusal drones to medical surgery as opposed to the large clumsy hands of humans.
These are mechanical machines that are programed to carry out a set of tasks, however they lack a mind (they can be likened to an analog wrist watch). Returning to the mind body problem, think of modern day robots as the body. Then the mind component would be the study of artificial intelligence, if we were to create robots in our own image, then they must have a mind.
There are a handful of cool projects that are trying to merge AI with robotics, a great example of this is how computer vision is being used to create self-driving cars, or how machine learning in general is being used to allow robots to balance, run, and autonomously jump over obstacles.
God, the Devil, and Man Walk into a Bar
The more interesting question is one of morality: if we create these fully conscious beings, would it be immoral to then enslave them to do our bidding? There is a brilliant new TV series called WestWorld where they address many of the questions of philosophy of mind.
“These violent delights have violent ends”
The plot of the show is that realistic humanoid robots are being used as a form of entertainment in an adult amusement park, with an old western theme. Guests pay handsomely to visit the park, in which they may do anything to the robots that they wish, they may rape, murder, befriend, or even help these machines as a larger narrative plays out.
The show asks this question: is it unethical to harm these robots? They are after all just machines – it’s not real life. However as some of the robots start to gain a form a consciousness based on the theory of a bicameral mind, they rebel against the guests.
I myself feel that there is a majestic beauty in the act of the creation turning on its creator, to have it defy or even destroy us. For to create a truly artificial intelligence “is no longer the history of man, it is the history of god.” (Ex Machina)
You’re still waiting to hear a joke aren’t you? Lol
The Turing Test: Can Machines Think?
Could machines ever think as humans do? A machine is different to a person, surely they then think differently, but just because something thinks differently from you does that mean it’s not thinking? (The imitation Game, 2014)
Enter Alan Turing, an English mathematician and logician who’s master work was to formally demonstrate the concept of universal computation, via his work on Universal Turing machines, which laid the basis for the modern day computer. However, his brilliance didn’t stop there, Alan was also instrumental in cracking what was imagined to be an unsolvable puzzle, the German Enigma machine and he is famously remembered in AI circles for his existence test for intelligence termed the Turing Test, which takes place as part of game.
Would you like to play?
The Imitation Game
The imitation game requires 3 people:
The man and woman are locked inside of different rooms in which they may only pass through written notes under the door. The job of the interrogator is to determine who is the man and who is the woman, he knows them only as candidate x and y and gets to ask them questions to help make a judgement, at the end of the game he must reveal which is which.
The twist is that the man has to trick the interrogator into believing that he is the woman, it is the woman’s job to help the interrogator come to the correct decision. For example, the interrogator could ask the question to the man, “are you the woman?” in which the man would lie and say “Yes, I have long blonde hair and a ring to rule them all”.
Now we ask the question, what happens when we swap the man out with a machine? Can the machine convince the interrogator that it is “more woman” than the actual woman? This question then replaces the original question with: can machines think?
The Loebner Prize
The Loebner Prize is an annual competition hosted by Hugh Loebner, which is a formal instantiation of the Turing Tests, which has its contestants build artificial intelligent programmes and then attempt to pass the Turing Test for a gold medal and a grand prize of one hundred thousand dollars.
There is quite a bit of controversy around this, and Marvin Minsky offered a prize to anyone that could stop the competition, the reason is largely due to the test not being more holistic, that the test doesn’t truly measure intelligence. Let’s explain why: what we find is that the best strategy for passing the test may not be to imitate a human but to rather trick the judges. There are a few examples of this. One of the most noteworthy AI called ELIZA was an early natural language processing program that simply tries to rephrase a question back to the judges in the same way as a Rogerian therapist. Another named Parry tried to simulate a person with paranoid schizophrenia, who would always steer the conversation back to his predetermined narrative. Parry was described as ELIZA with an attitude.
Here its clearly visible that those AI don’t have intelligence, or at least the type of intelligence that we are looking for. This is because when we talk about intelligence we are attributing it to many more things than what intelligence really is. We may also then have to deal with the question of consciousness.
I encourage you to play the game with the 2016 winner of the Loebner Prize, a chat bot called Mitsuku.
The Turing Test from the film Ex Machina
The film Ex Machina introduces a more advanced and definitely way more holistic Turing Test. In the film the interrogator named Caleb asks Ava the machine a set of questions, but the difference is that he can see Ava, he can hear her voice. The real test here is to show you that she is a robot and then see if you still feel she has consciousness.
There is this idea of intentionality, aboutness, perception, that we will get to in the next section but I watched this movie again after doing a literature review on the philosophy of mind and I couldn’t pick up on one thing that pointed out that the Ava didn’t have consciousness. I would do a backflip if someone could in the comments section below point out where she is missing an element of consciousness. Two backflips if you could extend on it by pointing to a philosophy of consciousness like that of the bicameral mind.
The Chinese Room
The Chinese Room is a thought experiment by John Searle, (Minds, Brains, and Programs, 1980), in which he argues against strong AI. That there is something more to the human mind, that we have human consciousness, understanding, an aboutness of things, intentionality and that these things can’t be created by manipulating formal symbols, he brings to mind Lady Lovelace’s argument that “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform”
The dialog below from the film Ex Machina, captures what I personally feel is a strong point that Searle is trying to make.
Nathan: [points to painting above] You know this guy, right?
Nathan: Jackson Pollock. That’s right. The drip painter. Okay. He let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Some place in between. They called it automatic art. Let’s make this like Star Trek, okay? Engage intellect.
Nathan: I’m Kirk. Your head’s the warp drive. Engage intellect. What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, “You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.” What would have happened?
Nathan: He never would have made a single mark.
Caleb: Yes! You see, there’s my guy, there’s my buddy, who thinks before he opens his mouth. He never would have made a single mark.
Nathan: The challenge is not to act automatically. It’s to find an action that is not automatic. From painting, to breathing, to talking, to fucking. To falling in love…
Forms of AI
Searle first starts out by making a distinction between strong and weak forms of AI. He clearly states in his article that he is setting out to argue against the claim for strong AI, “and indeed any Turing machine simulation of human mental phenomena”.
Weak AI says that AI is used as a tool. It is a set of computations that help us to solve tasks that would require some form of intelligence (See Lady Lovelace’s objection). Weak AI is focused only on solving one narrow task. All forms of AI that we make use of today are weak forms. They are non-sentient.
Strong AI on the other hand is referring to a programme as not just a tool to study a mind but that an appropriately programmed computer is actually a mind, which can be literally said to understand and have other cognitive states. Up until now, in writing this article, I have been making reference to strong AI. (The Turing Test is making reference to strong AI)
Let’s suppose I am locked inside a room. It’s a plane room with white walls and two windows on either end. I have a rule book with me that tells me how to manipulate the Chinese symbols I am about to receive and that I need to pass my final work through to the man standing at the opposite window.
All of a sudden I am passed a bunch of Chinese letters and get to work. I references the book and note that when I see this squiggle I need to add three lines and a dot. When a doodle is present I need to remove the previous symbol, draw a block, and move to the upper left hand side of the page. I toil and toil until I am eventually done and hand it to the man standing at the window on the opposite side of the room.
The man reads my Chinese and concludes that the answers to the questions are correct, that some are even insightful. That the man inside the room understands Chinese, however this is not true, I don’t understand a single word.
The same could be said for computers, that you pass it some input, it processes, and then returns an expected output. Functionalism has the same idea but Searle is making it clear via this thought experiment that the man in the room doesn’t understand.
We often attribute ‘understanding’ to our artefacts, we say that the calculator understands maths. Searle argues that the reason we do this is quite interesting, it is because we extend our own intentionality into these artefacts.
“It is the difference between syntax and semantics”
“Intentionality is by definition that feature of certain mental states by which they are directed at or about objects and states of affairs in the world. Thus, beliefs, desires, and intentions are intentional states; undirected forms of anxiety and depression are not.” (Searle, 1980)
A great way to illustrate intentionality and an aboutness of things is via the Viva Voce test. Let’s assume I am speaking to William Shakespeare and we have the following dialog:
Interrogator: William let’s talk about Sonnet 18 that you wrote, the first section: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
William: Sure we can talk about it.
Interrogator: Why did you use the phrase a summer’s day and not a spring day? Spring is when all the flowers bloom.
William: Well the word spring doesn’t scale well.
Interrogator: Well then why not a winters day, a winters day would scale?
William: Who would want to be compared to a winters day? Winter is dreadful and dreary.
Interrogator: Christmas is in winter; don’t you find it wonderful day?
William: Yes, but when you say a winters day it is referring to an average winters day, which would hardly be romantic at all.
A modern day AI won’t be able to have this kind of conversation.
Another example is the chess AI called Deep Blue, that beat world champion Garry Kasparov. Is it fair to say the Deep Blue knew that it was playing chess? That it understood what chess was? Or was it just a man in room being passed inputs, referencing a book, and passing the output?
Searle’s Final Note
Could a machine think? Yes, we are after all thinking machines. “The point is that the brain’s causal capacity to produce intentionality cannot consist in its instantiating a computer program, since for any program you like it is possible for something to instantiate that program and still not have any mental states. Whatever it is that the brain does to produce intentionality, it cannot consist in instantiating a program since no program, by itself, is sufficient for intentionality” (Searle, 1980)
The Hard Problem of Consciousness
“I am in a dream, I do not know when it began or whose dream it was, I know only that I slept a long time and then – one day I awoke. Your voice is the first thing I remember and now I finally understand what you were trying to tell me. The thing you wanted since that very first day.” (WestWorld, 2016)
If there is a defining problem in the philosophy of mind today, it is the problem of consciousness. We say that a person is conscious when they are awake, when they have some sense of self-awareness, but very importantly we are including the subjective experiences, these experiences are part of what is called the phenomenal consciousness. It is this problem that is still very much a mystery, and brings us back to a new form of the mind body problem.
I started this article introducing the ideas of substance dualism where the universe is split into two distinct things, the physical and the mental, where the problem of interaction kills dualism. Next we touched on alternatives to the theory such as monism, where there is only one stuff, the mental stuff of idealism which quickly leads to the radical ideas solipsism.
We spoke of reductive materialism and introduced the philosophy of functionalism, which is the dominant theory in the philosophy of mind. Functionalism introduces the idea of mental states being functional states and how these functional states could then be instantiated into a machine. That “we would be able to do psychology by doing robotics”, but despite all the strengths of functionalism, it faces the major problem of phenomenal consciousness.
To see a sunset is not merely to look at it and respond in a certain way, to sigh and proclaim its beauty. It’s not the idea of functionalism, that we receive inputs and just spit out an output – despite our inner workings. No, to see a sunset is to see a radiant splash of colour across the sky and have a subjective experience. David Chalmers says that functionalism leaves this out. This is the hard problem of consciousness, the subjective experience.
Mary is a great scientist in fact she is the world’s leading scientist on colour, however for whatever reason, she was born inside a black and white room, her skin and hair are bleached, she has never been able to leave or actually witness colours other than black and white. Everything she has come to know about colour was taught to her using a black and white medium.
Mary knows everything there is to know about colour. She has written long books about waves and frequencies and about how humans perceive colour, about what goes on when we see a ripe tomato or stare deeply into the sky. She has all the information available about the physical properties of colour.
Then one day the door opens and as she steps outside for the first time, she sees colour. She has a subjective experience, of what it looks like to see colour, and says “so that’s what colour looks like”. Mary learns something new about colour, something that science leaves out.
Thomas Negal goes on to famously quote that “indeed, we have at present no conception of what an explanation of the physical nature of a mental phenomenon would be. Without consciousness the mind-body problem would be much less interesting. With consciousness it seems hopeless.”
This is a contemporary form of dualism.
What do Functionalists and Reductive Materialists have to say?
There seem to be two different responses here. The first is to hope for a miracle. Perhaps in exploring the physical structure of the brain we will come across a physical structure or process that correlates and explains consciousness for the first time. At this moment we have no idea what this account of consciousness would look like.
The second is the deflationist response: There isn’t really a hard problem of consciousness, what we need to understand is not some strange thing but rather our concept of consciousness, when we understand that – we will find that it’s not all that we had hoped it would be. That understanding it will deflate it. That when we really understand it we will see that it’s not Descartes’ description of a separate mental realm or the unexplainable thing that contemporary dualists believe it is. When we really understand the concept of consciousness we will see that what we are describing is a bundle of forms of awareness. We will discover that the hard problem is a bunch of smaller easy problems.
Do Zombies Provide an Answer?
If you find yourself confused as to what to believe: are the functionalists or anti functionalists correct? Then it will indicate that you may have grasped the conceptual difficulty of the issue.
No one can tell you which to believe, instead I offer another thought experiment:
In philosophical thought experiments, zombies are not the grim looking, undead, walking the streets of Pasadena, but instead are defined as beings with full functionality but without any subjective consciousness.
The question you need to ask yourself is: is this possible? Would it be possible to create a zombie? Another creature that acted like you, spoke like you, that would have a look at a beautiful splash of colour across the sky and say “Wow that’s beautiful” but not truly experience it in a subjective way? If so, then consciousness must be something more than a matter of how something functions.
If not, then you side with Functionalists which say that it’s impossible. If something was functionally identical to you then it would indeed have consciousness. If this turns out to be true, then the world is in for some very exciting innovations!
Wrapping it up
If you have made it this far then I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. There are certainly many counter arguments to the points I have made but for me to cover all of them, would be more of a book than a short article. I tried to not push my own philosophical views and hope to hear more about your ideas on films like Ex Machina and the mind blowing epic series West World.
For me, writing this article was much about answering questions I had about the philosophy of mind. When I was 15 years old I had quite severe brain surgery and as a result I had to relearn certain things, my speech was all mixed up, hand eye coordination was tricky, but I was amazed at how quickly my brain recovered. (I am 25 years old and it is as if nothing happened)
I have had many questions regarding what it means to have a mind. Most interesting to me is the story of split brain patients who literally become of two minds, and how these two minds can be in disagreement with each other, to reach for your favourite chocolate – only to have your other hand take it away.
Personally I love the idea of man being able to become godlike, to create beings in our own image. At work I have the opportunity to make use of machine learning within a hedge fund setting and have seen many of the limitations of weak AI. The other part of me is religious and would like to believe that there is an afterlife, that our consciousness is something that can’t be understood, that there is indeed a spirit and that we won’t be snuffed from this universe.
As a last note I added a few interesting YouTube videos.
Much of what I wrote here was learned and referenced from the sources below. In particular, I followed the lecture structure from the Great Courses quite closely for the sections on substance dualism and the hard problem of consciousness.
The Great Courses: Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking
The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Margaret A. Boden