6 Jan 2009

Deleuze and Posthumanism, Paper Introduction, "Do Posthumanists Dream of Pixelated Sheep? Mental Uploading under Deleuzean Critique"

by Corry Shores
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"Do Posthumanists Dream of Pixelated Sheep?

Mental Uploading under Deleuzean Critique"

Part 1: Introduction

In his article, “Gnosis in Cyberspace? Body, Mind and Progress in Posthumanism,” Oliver Krueger writes that a basic tenet of posthumanism is the disparagement of the body in favor of a disembodied selfhood. He cites Katherine Hayles as characterizing posthumanism by its fundamental presupposition that humans are like machines determined by their “pattern of information and not by their devaluated prosthesis-body.”[i] Posthumanists would like to overcome the realms of matter and corporality in which the body resides so to enter into a pure mental sphere that secures their immortality.[ii] They propose that the human mind be “scanned as a perfect simulation” so it may continue forever inside computer hardware.[iii] In fact, Krueger explains, because posthumanist philosophy seeks the annihilation of biological evolution in favor of computer and machine evolution, their philosophy necessitates there be an immortal existence, and hence, “the idea of uploading human beings into an absolute virtual existence inside the storage of a computer takes the center stage of the posthumanist philosophy.”[iv]

The purpose of our paper is to evaluate the posthumanist notion of disembodied selfhood and the way mental uploading serves its immortalization. We begin with Hans Moravec’s detailed description of this procedure, along with the pattern/identity theory of selfhood it presupposes. To support his position, we explore William Hasker’s emergentist theory of mind, which is based on emergent dualism. Hasker’s theory accounts for 1) the mind’s dual immanence-to and abstraction-from its brain; and 2) the emergent mind’s independent liberty to alter its own neural substrate without that decision having been made by the substrate.

Given that the mind is uploaded to a digital computer, we will evaluate digitalism by contrasting it with analog. To make these distinctions we will rely partly on the aesthetic writings of Gilles Deleuze, who extensively clarifies the differences between analog and digital modes of communication. We will also examine the debate in artificial intelligence over whether neurological functioning is analogical or digital, which indicates whether or not an artificial intelligence should operate according to analogical or digital computation. We find that the prevailing current position is that both are necessary for adaptive intelligence. This finding alone should suggest that digital uploading could not transfer (or replicate) human minds, whose brains also operate analogically. However, for those interested in taking the issue one step further, we explore Deleuze’s notion of facultative disorder as the basis for thought and selfhood in a state of creative becoming. This disorder, according to Deleuze, is brought about by means of a violent mixture of analogical and digital modes of articulation. Thus, it serves as an alternative to the harmonious blend of analogical and digital that current AI theories propose.

[i][i] Oliver Krueger, “Gnosis in Cyberspace? Body, Mind and Progress in Posthumanism,” Journal of Evolution and Technology, (Vol. 14, Issue 2, August 2005, version 1.1), p.78.

[ii] Hartmut Boehme, qtd. in Krueger, p.78.

[iii] Krueger, p.78.

[iv] Krueger, p.80.

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