Post-Humanity and Terminator

I’ve had some fun recently watching and reading about the Terminator series. It’s not a bad attempt to bring a large SF franchise into the more constrained world of TV, and there’sconsiderable fan momentum If you were creating an artificial lifeform from the ground-up, what kinds of elements would you use? First, in any kind of hostile environment, it would be wise to create an internal skeleton made of a matrix of some sort of highly flexible yet very strong metal. A network that would carry materials to re-build and upgrade internal systems — the best way of communicating would be through a chemical/electrical metallic soup of individually independent systems — little nano-like magnetized iron particles, each of which would contain...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part V)

vi. Evolution & Transcendence Whitehead does not write directly of the possibility of God’s relationship with beings that human beings substantially create, but he does write of the difference in God’s creative relationship with every actuality. From this discussion, Whitehead describes God’s operations within and upon the metaphysical universe as the ongoing act of “enabling finite beings themselves by their own activity to transcend themselves.” In fact, it seems clear that the spiritual soul may in fact, arise out of such divine operations. The material reality of our environment becomes another novel ingredient in God’s satisfaction relative to the creation of a new entity. The manner in which a cybernetic soul may connect with its own ultimate...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part IV)

iv. Machine Organization and Actualization The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part III)

iii. Self-Realizing Material As any programmer who studies philosophy immediately notes, current software programming models act out to some degree the ideas of Plato and Thomas Aquinas. In the programming world, the pervasive emphasis on Object-oriented programming has given rise to the somewhat common analogy that “Platonic forms are classes and instances are [software] objects.” Given this fundamental understanding of their work as the ‘instantiation’ of an overarching class or Form, programmers thus work to define hierarchies of symbolic content within their coding structures, such that Forms/Classes ‘inform’ and create dynamic ‘Instances’ or Expressions of the individual Forms and Classes. Furthermore, “Patterns, abstract data types, and the like can...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part II)

ii. A Model for Post-Organic Actualization The central question we will soon contend with is this: Are beings who are other than organically human to be defined as “persons” or “humans” just as readily as we define any “person” who “extends themselves” into the world through merely their organic body? One day soon, there may be a ‘being’ who extends themselves into the world through merely a computer interface. On the screen in front of us, we may see a line of text which – in that moment of time – is the only extension of a being’s body into physical space. Yet this text and its animating underpinning may contain a degree of intellect that transcends that screen: is this a being with a soul? Perhaps that being may even construe themselves as possessing no other...

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