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FleshFactor: Re: current debates



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A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"
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At this stage, there is no serious possibility of humans managing without
their bodies; in particular, without that part of the body that is the
nervous system.  And because the nervous system interconnects with the
muscles, glands, gut, skin, tendons etc in extremely complicated ways,
with feedforward AND feedback signals, there is at present no serious
possibility of managing without arms and legs, eyes and ears, stomachs and
livers, and so on. It is quite possible that the dynamical biological
system (body + nervous system) that has evolved to allow us to manage on
this planet is much more capable of dealing with matters in real time, and
with greater precision, than manufactured (nonbiological) devices can ever
be.  Just as planes may fly faster and carry more folks than birds, birds
can land in extremely delicate situations, reproduce, feed themselves,
avoid collisions etc in ways that planes probably never will.  Or at least
it will not be worth the time, cost, and effort to get planes to do the
complicated range of things that a pelican, for example, can do.  So we
may manufacture intelligent machines for limited purposes, but probably
not for the whole range of complicated things that humans do: e.g. tending
children. 

So I wonder whether it is a bit too early in the game to worry too much
about being replaced by manufactured brains.  I am afraid I have a very
practical bent, and I worry more about things we really need to know but
don't yet know: e.g. how to predict, prevent, and successfully treat
schizophrenia -- and other diseases of the nervous systems, such as
multiple sclerosis, Lou Gherig's disease, Alzheimer's, etc.


pat


Patricia Smith Churchland
pschurchland@ucsd.edu
Philosophy Department 0119
UCSD
La Jolla CA 92093
office tel: 619-534-6811
FAX: 619-755-4393


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