Spaceweaver     Tue, Jun 1, 2010  Permanent link
Thank you Renata for this comprehensive triple post.

Mind can not be a property of matter according to Dembsky (2007), because all properties of matter would have to be material, since they come from matter in the first place.

This seems to be a dualistic approach in disguise (or without disguise) and does not have a sound philosophical ground. We could say the same about life: Life cannot be a property of matter because all properties of matter would have to be material, since they come from matter in the first place... therefore life is essentially not material. However it has been established with increasing degree of detail that life arises as complex organization of matter. I do not see why mind would be essentially different. The analogy could go a bit further: if life is the general state of living - that is the special modes of activity and interactivity attributed to certain complex material organizations (organisms), so mind is the general state of minding - that is special modes of activity and interactivity attributed to certain complex material organizations (minds, mindful agents).

What is special about organisms and minds as we know them is the very complex and generally intractable self organized process of their origination - evolution by natural selection that is. The question of whether we can or cannot create an artificial mind is malformed. There is no question that it is possible in principle based on our knowledge of the physical world. There is nothing essentially missing, no mysterious force or substance that is missing in our understanding. These are the details of the complex organization that gives rise to mind that we are missing...

The clearer question we should ask instead is whether we can replicate (or even do better) by design the grand achievements of natural selection. In other words, can we reverse engineer not only natural evolution's products, which we already do to an extent, but also its very processes of production. Philosophically speaking it seems that intentional (conscious) design has an obvious advantage over blind selection. A deeper consideration however shows how profound is the question. Intentional selection (in distinction to natural selection) is indeed a very powerful paradigm but its power come at a dear cost: the extreme narrowing of options due to its methodical, goal directed nature. It is not clear at all whether we can find by design an ultimate shortcut to the intractable path evolution has serendipitously found. It is not given that we can reverse engineer or even understand that which was never engineered in the first place.

Yet, we can always emulate evolution itself faster, much faster and hope to obtain a similar result. But than we would have to give up the intentional shaping of the end results... and admit the inherent limitations of design. This conundrum will most probably demand a radical shift of paradigms, a wild science, which I believe is already on its way.

Within the context of NBIC convergence, the informational nature of reality becomes evident (Floridi, 2007a).

We can say that the nature of knowledge is informational, that the nature of perception is informational, that the nature of cognition is informational, even that the nature of conscious observation is probably, at least in part, informational. We cannot claim however that the nature of reality is informational without clarifying the ontological grounds of such claim. The only approach that directly implies that the nature of reality is informational is the constructivist approach that claims (loosely speaking) that reality, any reality we can relate to, is a cognitive construction. It is indeed evident that NBIC convergence is first and foremost a cognitive construction and therefore projects its own informational nature unto reality whatever that might be.

In other words, we chose to describe our reality as informational because we recognize the huge evolutionary advantage that comes with it. Advantage however is not an ontological principle, it is rather a special kind of blindness :-) By considering information as the foundation of our reality (and our identity) we define who we are and how our future is going to unfold. We are to become inforgs- creatures made of information.

Nevertheless, for the info-creatures we are becoming, it is important, even critical to keep in mind that there might have been and actually there are and always will be many other unfathomable options to describe reality. Options that would take us on a completely different and not in the least less interesting evolutionary paths.

btw, it would be nice to have the full references.

relemorais     Tue, Oct 16, 2012  Permanent link
hey, awesome comment.

the full list of references is available here: 
Spaceweaver     Fri, Oct 26, 2012  Permanent link
Thanks Renata, I reread your posts and the comment dating more than two years back. Indeed awesome ;-)
relemorais     Fri, Oct 26, 2012  Permanent link