[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sun Jan 22 19:04:48 UTC 2012

On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 5:00 AM,  "Natasha Vita-More"
<natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:


> Yes, I see that and it confuses me because it's like one of those terms that
> gets picked up by different fields and they each given their own spin on it.
> I suppose I need to stay very focused on what "embodiment" is important to
> my thesis and not get lost going down rabbit holes.
> "So my stab at what she might mean is that our concept of the posthuman
> as we often describe it in our community tends to be very disembodied:
> we tend to assume the body is an irrelevant artifact that can be
> discarded and replaced with something better, keeping the essential part
> of ourselves. But she thinks this is a mistake - not that it might be
> impossible to do, but that regarding bodies as fashion accessories
> rather than the ground of being will mean we will be amputating
> important parts of our selves."
> I agree that this is her interpretation and thank you for spelling it out in
> one sentence. I think that she is mistaken by using a broad brush to paint
> our thinking. For example, I do not think the body is irrelevant.

I can think of a physics argument where we may be forced to abandon
physical bodies.

We want to be smart.  Part of being smart it the ability to think
fast.  It seems likely our brains could be simulated in hardware at a
rate of 200 MHz.  That's not a particularly high clock rate by modern
standards, but it's perhaps a million times that of meat based

Trapping a fast uploaded mind in a physical body (human or robotic)
would be incredible cruel.  They have to exist in fast simulated
worlds if they exist at all.

> It is how
> I communicate with the world as a vehicle and as an ornament, a pleasure
> chamber, and a constant reminder of all my
> problems/mistakes/regrets/hope/fears/loves as evidenced through the very
> scars that are visible, pains that I feel from disease or injuries, and the
> wrinkles symbolizing years that I have lived, and the smiles of high points
> in my life, the tears that run down my face at deep anguish and sadness, and
> the giggle of life's marvelous and absurd humor. This is what I want to draw
> from in designing future bodies for the posthuman. Now, when I say "bodies"
> I do not mean stamps of the human form, I mean bodies as in envelopes that
> encompass the codes - whether computation or chemical - that house
> existence.  We have to be in something.  If it is an upload, then it is in
> something - some envelope, encasement, structure, system.  That would be the
> body.  So, we have to redefine "body" in order to explain to numbskulls the
> transhumanist vision of the posthuman.

It's been done, and well too.  See the section in Accelerando by
Charles Stross where Amber and a bunch of her friends go off to a
nearby star in a coke can sized core of nanocomputers.  They live in a
highly detailed simulation of reality with their bodies existing only
as simulations in a shared computer environment.

Matrix and a line of novels back at least to Simulacron-3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacron-3 are about simulations.

> The problem is the saying "pro life" if you say it, one thinks you are
> anti-abortion.  But one could be for life in and of itself and have no
> interest in the politics of abortion.
> The posthuman, in my view, would require perceptual experiences and an array
> of emotional input/output devices in relation to the environment/system in
> which it exists. In this sense, the body (as a newly defined concept) is not
> amputated and is a deeply integrated aspect of our selves.

There is no reason a simulation should not include all the emotion of
a real world existence.

> What are your thoughts on this Anders? How would you redefine "body"? Do you
> see my point or am I stating it in a way that lacks clarity?

How could you even tell if your body was a good simulation of your
physical body and in a simulated world?


> Best,
> Natasha

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