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Artificial Brains and Hybrid Minds

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Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE,volume 44)

Abstract

The paper develops two related thought experiments exploring variations on an ‘animat’ theme. Animats are hybrid devices with both artificial and biological components. Traditionally, ‘components’ have been construed in concrete terms, as physical parts or constituent material structures. Many fascinating issues arise within this context of hybrid physical organization. However, within the context of functional/computational theories of mentality, demarcations based purely on material structure are unduly narrow. It is abstract functional structure which does the key work in characterizing the respective ‘components’ of thinking systems, while the ‘stuff’ of material implementation is of secondary importance. Thus the paper extends the received animat paradigm, and investigates some intriguing consequences of expanding the conception of bio-machine hybrids to include abstract functional and semantic structure. In particular, the thought experiments consider cases of mind-machine merger where there is no physical Brain-Machine Interface: indeed, the material human body and brain have been removed from the picture altogether. The first experiment illustrates some intrinsic theoretical difficulties in attempting to replicate the human mind in an alternative material medium, while the second reveals some deep conceptual problems in attempting to create a form of truly Artificial General Intelligence.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-96448-5_10
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Thus the critique applies not just to classical computation and the mind/program model, but to any approach committed to abstract structural explanation and MR, such as connectionist architectures.

  2. 2.

    There is nothing to prevent an FCTM + advocate from attributing a functional role to tingles, afterimages, etc., but I would view this as merely an ad hoc strategy for defending their theory against an obvious objection.

  3. 3.

    In view of externalist semantical implications for mental content, a fully artificial form of mentality would require a 'Planet of the Robots' scenario, a community of feral artifacts not programmed with human NL. Instead, the robots would need to evolve their own sociolinguistic community from scratch, just as the human race did. In this manner the robotic mental states and contents would be genuinely artificial, just as advanced biological creatures on another planet would possess a genuinely alien form of mentality.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the reviewers Chuanfei Chin, Sam Freed and Dagmar Monett for useful comments.

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Schweizer, P. (2018). Artificial Brains and Hybrid Minds. In: Müller, V. (eds) Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017. PT-AI 2017. Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics, vol 44. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96448-5_10

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96448-5_10

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