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Folkert Gorter
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    Body vs Mind
    Can my Mind exist outside my body? Can I have a consciousness transplant?



    I suppose mind is a direct result of genetic information and environment and as such would be hard to imagine (or recognize) outside of its natural habitat. It seems that so much of what we call personality is determined by genetics and environment that displacing the self-reflecting entity (if there is such a thing) to a location outside of its host (the body) while keeping the mind in tact sounds simply impossible. But perhaps we'll be surprised when we try. Because even though the mind might be a direct result of the biological system, we could replicate this system to be like the host.

    What would it be like to "wake up" after extensive "surgery", to realize "you" are not in your own body, but transplanted (or downloaded) into an environment running on integrated circuits? Would the bandwidth available to the mind be relatively huge now that it does not have to process any physical stimuli and organize motor functions, etc.? And if all this is possible, would it mean that mind is a kind of independent life form?

    The shape of the human body—and the shape of any living creature for that matter—appears to be directly related to its activities: feeding, reproducing, defending, etc., in the particular environment (which includes climate, food supply, competition and stability factors) that the creature is born into.


    Human activity has drastically changed over a relatively short period of time, causing much of the current shape of our bodies to be inconveniently outdated. They require a lot of upkeep, like pretending to hunt prey but actually running on a treadmill. We are basically forced to use our body for activities that have been abandoned long ago in order to keep it healthy and functioning properly.

    So because it looks like the body is simply a vehicle used by the brain to get around, what would the ideal shape of the body be today? Just a head? A floating, hovering, flying head? (maybe the ears can be used as wings). We'd still be able to see, hear, smell and most importantly, think.

    Reproduction is an isssue though. Any ideas?

    Sat, Jul 14, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: consciousness, brain, biology
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    alborz     Tue, Apr 24, 2007  Permanent link
    You just blew my mind. (Pun very deliberately intended.)

    So I guess to determine what the ideal form of our bodies would be now, we'd have to look at our environment and see what body is best adapted to it....which is wild because here we are: for the first time on earth, a creature struggles to adapt to an environment it created itself. We're adapting to ourselves.

    As far as separating the mind and body - that reminds me of how amputees experience phantom limbs. Imagine phantom bodies.
    folkert     Tue, Apr 24, 2007  Permanent link
    Al sais
    "for the first time on earth, a creature struggles to adapt to an environment
    it created itself"

    that's a great point! You think that means it's inevitable for the mind to evolve out of the body over time or will the evolution of the body speed up accordingly? And if the mind will evolve to exist outside of its meat-host, would you still see that as being part of biological evolution?

    Phantom bodies sound awesome.
    alborz     Thu, Apr 26, 2007  Permanent link
    I was listening to a discussion on the radio about the evolution of humans. One of the questions was why the human mind has adapted much further than it needs to in order to survive in the forest.** That makes me think that our mind, and therefore the environment that we've created with it, is evolving too fast for our bodies. Surely, given enough time, our bodies along with the rest of life on earth would be able to adapt to the changes and damage we're causing. If these changes occured over a billion years, there'd be no problem. They're damaging because they're occuring so fast.

    So I guess I don't think the body will speed up....which seems depressing. So maybe yeah, the answer is adapting out of the meat-host - which seems so wild.

    Then again maybe it's not that drastic or strange. Isn't the Internet a primitive version of what you're talking about? Maybe we're already doing it by essentially uploading our minds into computers on a daily basis. I'm gonna do it as soon as I hit "publish"!




    **(One of the ideas was that sexual selection rather than natural selection lead to the further advancement of our mind - meaning that mates, rather than the need for survival, select the smartest mate available.)
    richard     Sun, Jul 15, 2007  Permanent link
    These ideas sort of scare me. If you project a little further than you are explaining here, it seems like the next step is to get past the individual. Why worry so much about the individual self when our combined knowledge is way expansive and efficient. I already sort of feel this. For example, I don't take much effort to memorize things anymore, because I can always just google it. It seems like our logical capabilities are taking precedence over our storage ones. This seems like a good symbiotic relationship between us humans and computers. But what happens when computers can outdo our logic? What are we good for? Why are we on earth? Is our ultimate goal happiness? Will our happiness be guaranteed?? ... I hope not!
    folkert     Sun, Jul 15, 2007  Permanent link
    The emphasis is the on the individual because the larger phenomenon of "combined knowledge" is only as good as the individual parts—when individuals become more succesful, the entire system inherently becomes more "expansive and efficient" as a whole. I agree on the positive trend of our logical capabilities receiving more and more bandwidth in comparison to the storage ones, that's a great situation. Regarding the question about what we are good for—I think that is taking it a bit too personal as a species, we're good for everything and nothing.

    Check out this article: Top 10 Transhumanist Technologies - I'm not at all a disciple of the transhumanist movement, but the piece has some compelling ideas about cryonics, virtual reality, gene therapy, space colonization, cybernetics, robots, molecular manufacturing, megascale engineering, mind uploading and artificial intelligence.

    Btw, nice to see you around sir
    aaron kinney     Sun, Jul 22, 2007  Permanent link
    Excellent post, folkert. I'm actually very fascinated with this topic and have written about it extensively. I have a blog called Kill The Afterlife, and as you can guess by the title, I have talked about the mind vs. brain issue a few times.

    Believing that the mind is a separate and independent entity from the brain is known as "dualism." Of course, I dont believe that the mind can exist without the brain per se, but the question that should be asked is "what can comprise a brain?"

    If the electro-chemical functions of the brain can be duplicated or replaced synthetically, then why wouldnt our "minds" be able to exist in a vessel other than our brains? Imagine a world where nanobots are injected into your body to cure disease, fix organs, etc. Could nanobots also be used to replace damaged or malfunctioning neurons in your brain? I imagine so. Could the organic brain be gradually supplanted with synthetic components until no biological portion is left, yet one's mind is still thinking and functioning? Again, I imagine so.

    Speaking of reproduction: would it still be necessary in a world where mortality is long gone? And regardless of reproductions necessity (or superfluousness) in a synthetic-life world, wouldnt it be in fact easier to reproduce when all life is synthetic? Just "copy and paste" perhaps? Maybe an assembly line of sorts?

    Awhile ago I read an amazing novella called "Afterlife." I wrote a review about it here. Dont let the title fool you; its not what you think. The book explores immortality through technology and the gradual extinction (or, rather, evolution) of the human race through synthetic systems. To put it mildly, that book blew my mind. It talks about pretty much everything you mentioned here. You can even read the book for free online.

    A "mind" is an emergent property of the brain. It is the proverbial metadata. One analogy I like to use is that the mind is to the brain as transportation is to the car. Transportation is an emergent property of the car similar to the mind.

    Its not the best metaphor, but its simple and easy to understand in the terms of a physical entity having an emergent "property."

    Anyway, there's my random thoughts on the topic. Again, great post!
    folkert     Fri, Aug 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Thanks for the thoughts Aaron, you summed things up well. The mind does seem to be an emergent property of neuro activity, so it would make sense with our bodies being relatively fragile that we would explore "artificial" environments that mimic this neuro activity so that "we" can exist in a space a little more stable, robust and with more longevity. Will check out Afterlife, thanks for the tip.
    TheJehosephat     Thu, Dec 13, 2007  Permanent link
    Now if your consciousness downloaded into some sort of super-computer, would people be able to tap in to your thoughts? As much as I like the idea of the mind being a separate being almost... I don't like the idea of defenselessness.
    Wow, that was random, sorry bout that.
    Yu Jie     Sun, Jan 20, 2008  Permanent link
    An interesting concept, separating the mind from the body.

    On the matter of whether the mind is separate from the brain, I believe it is. A brain is a muscle, part of the body, the mind is what exists within it and is formed and characterized by electro-chemical compositions, neuron transmissions and whatnot. Neurology is one large subject and I do not claim to understand it at all, but from what little I know, I gather that the mind can exist in another environment without the need for a brain as we have now.

    On the matter of the mind existing in a different environment, I would have to say that it might be possible (theoretically and with basis in philosophy rather than in science) to transfer an already developed mind with the right host from the original body. But I would think that it would be impossible for a mind to be created from scratch in one of these hosts. The human mind is molded via different influences from the environment and various stimulus that it learns to react to. Unless a way is found to allow minds to learn using physical influences and stimulus in an artificial host, I would think that a mind would have to be cultivated first before moving it into a host.

    Roald Dahl wrote a short story, William and Mary in which this issue is discussed at some lengths.
    The story begins with Mary Pearl receiving a note from her recently departed husband, William. The letter tells how Landy, a doctor, approaches William, a well-regarded philosopher, about his cancer. He suggests that William undertake a procedure, which he explains in great detail, that would mean his brain being transplanted from his body after death, and attached to an artificial heart. One of his eyes could also be hooked up so that he would be able to see. Although the doctor is uncertain whether the brain would regain consciousness, he remains hopeful. The brain, he says, could probably live as long as 200 years connected to the machine. William initially reacts violently to this suggestion, but by the end of their discussion has lightened up to the idea more. Thinking it over later, he is initially concerned with the idea of phantom limb, believing that as a brain alone he may be in terrible trauma, wishing for the use of his body. However, he writes, he eventually embraced the idea, being very fond of his brain and liking the suggestion that it could live on.
    He had attempted to bring up the discussion with Mary a number of times earlier, but she had pushed him aside. His reason for the note then, was in the hope she might more adequately pay attention to what she couldn't in his own lifetime. He adds that by the time she reads the letter, the procedure should have been undertaken a week earlier, and suggests that she contact Landy. She does so and immediately begins to take care of him. The procedure had gone as well as could be expected, and William had regained consciousness within two days. His connected eye also appears to be functioning properly. Mary finds the previously dominating William to be attractive in his helplessness and wishes to take him back home. Landy, not at all expecting such a reaction, tells her she should stick to being a widow, and the story ends with William's future uncertain.

    Wikipidea

    The possible implications and ethical issues that need to be addressed are immense!

    Insightful post, folkert!



    Michael Garrett     Sun, Jan 20, 2008  Permanent link
    Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University's Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

    The following comment was offered in an on-line discussion group hosted by Cliff Pickover ...

    From: "Cliff Pickover":
    As we age, the molecules in our bodies are constantly being exchanged with our environment. With every breath, we inhale the world lines of hundreds of millions of atoms of air exhaled yesterday by someone on the other side of the planet. In some sense, our brains and organs are vanishing into thin air, the cells being replaced as quickly as they are destroyed. The entire skin replaces itself every month. Our stomach linings replace themselves every five days. We are always in flux. A year from now, 98 percent of the atoms in our bodies will have been replaced with new ones. We are nothing more than a seething mass of never-ending world lines, continuous threads in the fabric of spacetime. What does it mean that your body has nothing in common with the body you had a few years ago? If you are something other than the collection of atoms making up your body, what are you? You are not so much your atoms as you are the pattern in which your atoms are arranged. For example, some of the atomic patterns in your brain code memories. We are persistent spacetime tangles. In my book Time: A Traveler's Guide, in a diagram, a person is represented by a set of four atom threads that have come close together. (An "atom thread" is the spacetime trail of an individual atom.) Note that an atom can leave one person's array and become part of another person.


    Pickover offers that we are not the biological person we were last year, or yesterday for that matter. It would seem that our mind, our thoughts exist dependent upon the biology of the brain as a host, while remaining somehow independent as well. This would suggest, at least to me, that as long as there is an appropriate host there is a possibility of transferring the mind to it.
    Gabriel     Sun, Jan 20, 2008  Permanent link

    Photobucket

    ???

    mmmm...transhumanity....
    3LSZVJA9     Mon, Jan 21, 2008  Permanent link
    How will we know when we have successfully transplanted a consciousness?

    How will we know we haven't just killed an entity and replaced it with a similar one.

    Can a consciousness be duplicated?
    Ruud Kempers     Wed, Jan 23, 2008  Permanent link
    Folkert, nice subject. In order to find an answer to your question ( subject above) I typed
    'Mind vs Body' and found this with the help of google. It might give you some interesting theories to think about.

    By Fergus Duniho

    A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of master of science.

    Start here...

    - The mind is that part of the body that transforms sensory data into a more useful form, namely knowledge. The task of the mind is essentially similar to the task of the digestive system. The digestive system transforms food into something that the body can use, and the mind transforms sensory data into knowledge about the world -

    The Mind/Body Problem


    1 - Bodies are physical.

    One of the first things that we discover about our bodies is that they have limitations that we cannot think away. Our bodies seem to be what they are no matter what we think about them. Although you can change your body by changing your body image, you will never have a super-powerful body like Superman has by thinking that you do. There seem to be facts about our bodies that our minds can't change. Thus, our bodies seem to exist and be what they are independently from what any mind thinks they are. It seems that our bodies are physical, for our bodies do not change with our every change in belief about them. If someone takes drugs, for example, and subsequently believes that he can fly like Superman, he will kill himself if he jumps off the roof of a skyscraper. Furthermore, our bodies seem to be affected by things that take our minds by surprise. If you aren't paying attention, a falling safe could kill your body before your mind has any idea of what is happening. Finally, there are many things that we do not know about our bodies, which seems to indicate that they are more than whatever we think they are.

    2 - Minds are not physical.

    It may seem as though minds are non- physical, for thoughts do not seem to have anything in common with anything else we call physical. For example, a board is extended in space, but the thought of a board does not seem to be extended in space. An anvil is heavy, but we can't say that a mental image of an anvil is heavy. We can locate a radio wave, but nobody has yet located a thought. Also, we can describe many things with physics, but so far, nobody has reduced psychology to physics.

    3 - Minds and bodies interact.

    It seems that the mind and body interact, for you can think of something that you want to do, such as type the words in a sentence, and then have your body do it. Also, it is through your sense organs, which are a part of your body, that you are conscious of the world about you. Furthermore, any of your mental attributes can be affected by the state of your body. A chemical imbalance in your brain can make you unhappy. Hunger or fatigue can make you irritable or draw your mind off of deep philosophical problems. Exercising your body can make your mind more active and better able to think.

    4 - The physical and non-physical can't interact.

    Finally, it would seem that the physical and non-physical cannot interact. The problem here is not one of conflict with experience, but one of conceivability. If the physical and non- physical have nothing in common with each other, as many are apt to believe, then it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive how they could interact with each other. Furthermore, some even believe that physical interaction with the non-physical would violate the second law of thermodynamics.

    More stuff too think about here;

    The Mind/Body Problem and its Solution




     
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