Bioethics Blogs

Mind, Consciousness, and Artificial Intelligence by Maria Cecilia Dedios

This month’s web roundup comes through a bit late – paradoxically- due to technical difficulties (my computer died!). Although I will be able to recover most of my files, the past days were a reminder of just how much we depend on technology to go about our lives, including saving our work, our thoughts and ideas… which leads me directly to the topic I had chosen for this post – Artificial intelligence and the human mind.

 

One of the most fundamental tenets held by social scientists studying the mind is that human cognition is grounded in biological, social, and cultural processes. It is the intertwining of these necessary levels that explains the complexity, design, and richness of the human mind. Right? Earlier this month, I attended a fascinating talk about human utopias, science fiction, and virtual reality, where the speakers asked whether we can ever free consciousness from our bodies. Drawing from ideas about virtual reality and the outstanding improvement in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the audience was left thinking: Is all consciousness necessarily biological and social? I learned that, in science fiction, there are generally two ways in which the mind is freed from the body. One way is jacking-in, meaning that you plug yourself to virtual reality. Notice that when you do that, you are still in your body, the thinking is still happening in your brain. Another way is the “uploading” – this is about having your brain copied onto a computer. In this case, you live on in the cloud and your body is completely discarded.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.