[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 29 02:04:50 UTC 2012

2012/1/27 Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc>:
> Giulio, I agree with you that persons ought to do what they are comfortable
> with and exist in whatever substrate they select. The idea of embodiment has
> a multitude of possibilities, my Primo Posthuman prototype is just one. That
> we can be a substrate-independent mind is a powerful notion the most
> fascinating and exciting idea around because it is deeply connected to our
> life expansion, and not a theoretical puzzle, such as many worlds and
> simulation arguments (Derrida).

Prior to reading your thoughts on the sensual nature of our native
flesh I hadn't considered the inherent value of our as-is systems in
light of all the trashumanist marketing for the to-be state of
"upload" (either robotic or mostly-sim).  This got me thinking about
the difference between a well-proven classic, either restored or
enhanced to the ideal, and a first-generation robot body.  I know the
details will improve over time.  Perhaps the early adopters will be
those with failing bodies who have no other recourse.  But what of
those who are ready to leave an otherwise good-enough biological body
to take up a literal new lease on life as non-biological version of
themselves?  Do they 'donate' their old residence either in parts or
as a ready-to-inhabit machine itself?  The organ donor program is well
within the acceptable norm of our society - but how far must
mainstream imagination stretch to understand that once we have the
ability to leave biological bodies we will likely have the ability to
enter and re-enter them?  (thanks Keith for reminding us of this point
every time the discussion appears to forget it)

So where will we be when up/down operations are ubiquitous as the
daily commute?  I imagine I would have little use for actuating a
keyboard while sitting in a cube for 8 hours.  After I'm finished
exchanging my time/mental energy/focus with my employer for money to
live, I am no more interested in "going to the gym" than I am now.  It
would seem that if I can afford it, I would hire a personal trainer to
perform the maintenance on my 'person' while I'm not using it.  If
that seems perhaps too personal, consider that I take my car to a
mechanic because they ostensibly enjoy that work.  Similarly, there
are those who seem to enjoy the gym - so I'd pay them for doing what I
consider work.

But then back to embodiment...  Whether my thoughts are computed in a
flesh brain, a silicon brain emulation, or some yet-inconceivable
form, are they influenced by the substrate?  I say yes, of course.
That's not a problem though.  By analogy:  I wear sneakers pretty much
everywhere.  I don't really pay much attention to shoes most of the
time.  Obviously there are some events with a dress code that make
sneakers unacceptable - that's a social convention that makes the shoe
decision for me.  While I can go hiking in sneakers, they really
aren't ideal for the terrain - that's a decision based on using the
right tool for the job.  The type of shoe is influenced and influences
the type of walking one may do.  For the sake of argument, I expect
thought-computing substrates may be changed as easily as shoes.
Decision-making about which is appropriate for the occasion may be by
etiquette or utility or a personal style preference.  Are any of these
factors enough to determine a person's identity?  Perhaps no more than
what shoes they are wearing.

It'll be interesting to see how language adapts.  I'd say this was a
"no brainer" but at some point that might refer to a protected class
of non-resident persons-at-idle.  (which must not be confused with
persons-at-idol, but that's another topic)

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