Mindclones are software versions of our minds, software-based alter egos, doppelgangers, or mental twins. A mindclone is created from the thoughts, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, preferences, and values you have put into it. Mindclones will experience reality from the standpoint of whatever machine their mindware is run on. When the body of a mindclone dies, the mindclone will not feel that they have personally died, although the body will be missed in the same ways amputees miss their limbs but acclimate when given an artificial replacement. The comparison suggests an apt metaphor: The mindclone is to the consciousness and spirit as the prosthetic is to an arm that has lost its hand.
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Let Observation with extensive View,
Survey Mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,
And watch the busy Scenes of crouded Life;
Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,
O’er spread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,
Where wav’ring Man, betray’d by vent’rous Pride,
To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;
As treach’rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,
Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.
How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,
Rules the bold Hand, or prompts the suppliant Voice,
How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppres’d,
When Vengeance listens to the Fool’s Request.
Fate wings with ev’ry Wish th’ afflictive Dart,
Each Gift of Nature, and each Grace of Art,
With fatal Heat impetuous Courage glows,
With fatal Sweetness Elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the Speaker’s pow’rful Breath,
And restless Fire precipitates on Death.”
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I’m an English major. I will always be an English major. Thus it bothers me that robots and robotic scribblers are, like the Borg, assimilating everything human. Right now, the race can still take comfort in the claim that robots are relieving we humans of demeaning tedium, all in the name of efficiency. Of course, efficiency increases productivity and that means more money can be made. We can do it fast, fast, fast. So it was with ditch digging before Ditch Witch arrived. I hope that a fair number of humans have become Ditch Witch operators, repairers and sales people.
Will Orem in Slate takes comfort that robots will never completely master what is distinctly human: nuance, passion, anger, disgust, a turn of phrase, sarcasm, et cetera. I am less optimistic. The way things proceed a Miltonic robot using Miltonic algorithms may one day write the equivalent of Paradise Lost. (There may be no one around to know the difference or care.) I assume a modern Descartes is still safe from assimilation, but poetry is quantifiable. Is there an algorithm for creating metaphors and similes. I’ll bet a robot can diagram a sentence.
In any case Technology will not cease developing, this brave, brave new world. I find it all just a little boring, but then I am an English major. David Milliken
For Samantha, 1999-2014
” . . .What phone, what screen, what Microsoft device as yet to be invented could ever produce the soothing waft of mustard seed and tangy, fermented cheese that once my mother’s clothes infused – and now, each night, my nose?’
Perhaps it’s a second childhood for me, but Mary B. Cooper, children’s writer and illustrator, has captured my full attention. “A Tale of Two Turtles” tells of two turtles, one thoroughly satisfied with his life and another, an unhappy misfit who finds happiness — thanks to a little deception by the happy turtle. The simple moral is profound and I shall not divulge it. “A Tale of Two Turtles” is out-of-print I believe, but available in used and rare book stores. Ohioans might be especially lucky to find it. I found it at prices like $115. If my wife had not acquired the tale from Ms. Cooper back in our Ohio years, I would buy it this day at that price or higher. This tale is worthy the attention of Aesop himself. It transcends its genre.
Steadfast and cautious,
“When we talk about the future of higher education in the United States, let’s please focus our attention on where most higher ed happens. It’s not in Cambridge or South Bend or Ann Arbor. It’s in Kirksville, Mo.; Emporia, Kan.; Lafayette, La.; and Bridgewater, Mass.”
My alma mater is Ohio State and I dearly love her. However, after those initial four years, I attended Idaho State, Kansas State, University of Missouri Kansas City, and Cal State Hayward. There is a lot of attention being given to world class this and world class that. I welcome this article about the also runs. The Tortoise would see things that way. One day a tortoise will learn to fly.
In these days with Americans wanting to pull back from its global role and perhaps beginning a new era of isolationism, I cannot help but think about what we might realistically do in the world. Our mission in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have been failures. Perhaps history will have another perspective. And it seems that when we look Putin and other autocrats in the eyes, our rose-colored glasses get us into trouble. We can’t be a global cop lest we go broke. And yet, who but us can lead? The UN has many, many problems, but perhaps we are better off with it than without it. Being a Navy man, I do believe that those huge carriers tooling around he world are a Force for Peace. Just cruising about matters. That’s what Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet was about. And yet . . . and yet we have to have a place where every nation is at the table — at least talking, even spouting off. If we abolished the UN today, we would soon hear cries for its return — warts and all. David Milliken
The online world’s constant flux of information often results in a mental “overload” that can come to the detriment of short-term memory retention, researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (RIT) in Stockholm,
A battle is being waged over kin and kind: Did cooperation evolve in humans and other animals because it helped relatives? Or because it promoted group living?
A school of thought known as inclusive fitness theory—or kin selection—sits at the center of the conflict. Most biologists consider it to be the leading explanation for the evolution of cooperation and altruism. But one of the most famous evolutionary biologists in the world, Edward O. Wilson, has challenged the concept and published a book promoting group selection as a replacement. He’s probably wrong, but his book may have reached more people than any scientific publication about cooperation since kin selection was proposed 50 years ago.
What does looking back tell us about the way forward?