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    frying brains

    By fays.panda
    Feb 2, '10 6:31 PM EST

    I was just reading Hans Moravec’s prediction/belief/fantasy(?) where human consciousness will be downloaded into a digital form where it is either given free reign to roam around in cyberspace or be restrained within the body of a robot. He writes about scientists frying human brains and then separating layers of molecules so information can be scanned layer by layer. At the end of it, your head, now that does'nt sound like fun. While this freaks me out – on many levels – I have to admit, I’ve become more and more convinced of how fragile our bodily existence is. If everything around us is fragile, from political to economic to cultural to moral to all kinds of systems, then why isn’t our anthropocentric world-view just as fragile? Sure, this wont happen tomorrow – unless it is already happening and I missed it? -, and maybe not in the next decade or so, but something along those lines is surely in the making. iPad is not exactly the move in the other direction. Anyway, If it happens, how do we as designers respond? Surely things wont be the same?

    I find myself dreaming of some sort of weird mixture of a Tim Burton-ish with a hint of random sci-fi tv world because of some of the questions that raise themselves while doing the research at school. This is augmented when all you experience for hours at length is an attack of psychedelic colors forming and moving on the screen trying (as a team, here's my shameless plug) to understand the potential found in (half anthropocentric/half entomologic) systems of self-organization as models of thinking and structuring the work.

    It’s fun though, all these colors, but this brain-frying business is confusing me.


    • it does make me wonder with the conversation spanning the mind and the digits, how much memory does the brain contain?

      Feb 3, 10 12:08 am

      That's an intriguing question, but I think it's a bit dangerous. You know how in the 50's we had these visions of robots that are purely anthropocentric - think of Bender from Futurama - which might sound ridiculous now - I'm still unsure whether this can be escaped. Even those that look least like human beings, like the robots used to manufacture cars, are very much human in the fact that they behave like arms-. On the other hand, I would also be worried if we start of thinking of the other extreme, like you are suggesting, that we can quantify how much memory power we have. It's interesting, I agree, but, would you really like it if sometime down the road, the rich can upgrade their memory? Sure, memory is not directly equivalent to intelligence, but, to buy it, in quantities? I do not think we are robots, and neither are robots human beings, which is where the notion of the cyborg becomes interesting, its this thin - but expanding - line.

      Feb 3, 10 9:45 am
      chatter of clouds

      Christians made God into a human, Jesus; He was the first android (or perhaps the second after Eve who was part-Adam). Jews don't like visual semblance, they prefer textual semblance; anything humanlike yet not human would turn into a monster that would turn against them, the Golem. Moslems, the conclusion of semitism after jews, forbade semblance altogether. the moslems understood, well before walter benjamin and co, that the copy would eventually undermine the aura of originality surrounding the One.
      there is nothing trivial or dated about the notion of human semblance on the part of an alien entitiy. learning from the old greek gods who walked amongst the greek, this semblance is what most brings those entities close to humans and at the same time what invites the most turmoil and confusion into the humans' lives. therefore, the most intimate and the most treacherous. this is exactly why we fantasize about human-like robots that feed us, have sex with us, do our menial tasks...and at the same time, that we fear might overtake our civilization and wipe us out. the Terminator is an ancient idea situating the human-resembling artifact, the Golem, within the bipolarity of this fantasy/nightmare.

      Feb 3, 10 10:09 pm

      oh god....

      Anyway.. - I loved the Moravec book (and his article on the coming "Singularity") - there's a quite meticulous charge against the way Moravec sees the mind in R.Penrose's "the Emperor's new mind" - you should check it out - or a short description of the contents - it relegates Moravecs (and other strong AI-enthusiasts') visions back to sci-fi land. Interesting stuff all.

      Feb 4, 10 4:11 am
      brian buchalski

      it don't think bender is "purely anthropocentric"...i'm pretty sure there is a splash of "cocktail-shaker-centric" in there too:

      Feb 5, 10 8:11 am

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