Misbehaving Machines: The Emulated Brains of Transhumanist Dreams

Journal of Evolution and Technology 22 (1):10-22 (2011)
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Abstract

Enhancement technologies may someday grant us capacities far beyond what we now consider humanly possible. Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg suggest that we might survive the deaths of our physical bodies by living as computer emulations.­­ In 2008, they issued a report, or “roadmap,” from a conference where experts in all relevant fields collaborated to determine the path to “whole brain emulation.” Advancing this technology could also aid philosophical research. Their “roadmap” defends certain philosophical assumptions required for this technology’s success, so by determining the reasons why it succeeds or fails, we can obtain empirical data for philosophical debates regarding our mind and selfhood. The scope ranges widely, so I merely survey some possibilities, namely, I argue that this technology could help us determine (1) if the mind is an emergent phenomenon, (2) if analog technology is necessary for brain emulation, and (3) if neural randomness is so wild that a complete emulation is impossible.

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