Every week Philomag offers you a selection of articles published in the French and foreign press, grouped around a common theme. Articles that surprised, questioned, disturbed us. The opportunity to discover new perspectives on the world and the events that make the news.
This week’s theme: the limits of the mind. Where does consciousness begin? Does thinking stop at the limits of our body? What relationship does it have with the real world? And with the virtual world? Will we ever be able to create a ghost? So many questions that regularly crop up in public space – from the media sphere to academic polemics. Lighting in four sections.
David Chalmers: “We are investing meaning in the physical world – and we can do the same in digital worlds”
Does digital space exist, or does it only exist in our minds? The question is badly asked, says the Australian philosopher David Chalmers in the New York Times † “As a philosopher, I think the meaning of our lives is rooted in our consciousness. Humans are conscious, which gives us the ability to give meaning to the physical world. We can do the same with virtual reality. † From this standpoint, “our virtual lives are real lives”, and not illusory lives, lost in a pseudo-world without consistency. We stray when we resist the real and the virtual.
Adam Frank: “Machine metaphors for talking about life and the mind are, I think, deeply flawed”
What if the mind was just a parasite attached to the body: this is the idea explored by the american astrophysicist adam frank that the website BigThinkfrom a reading of the novel blind sight (2006; trans. fr. Le Bélial, 2021) by Canadian science fiction writer Peter Watts† Could it be that the mind is just a… “energy-intensive supplement to brain function not needed for intelligence” † A leech that accidentally appeared in evolution, which we must hope will disappear soon? The idea is stimulating… but reducing according to Frank. She “is based on the use of machine metaphors to talk about life and mind (in short, on the idea that you are nothing but a flesh computer)”† Not enough.
Hermona Soreq and Raphael Malach: “The brain is the foundation of everything we have”
To understand the mind, you must start by studying the brain, say neuroscientists Hermona Soreq and Rafael Malachi in an interview with Jerusalem Post † “the human brain […] is the basis of […] our experiences, our thoughts and our unconscious processes. […] All our conscious and unconscious psychological processes begin with the tissue called the human brain. – the “more complex tissue” of our organizations. A physicalist approach that will be essential for researchers if we ever want to create artificial intelligence: ‘We still have a lot to learn before we can program the brain, but it’s good that we’re trying. †
Benjamin Curtis and Julian Savulescu: “We know we’re not zombies; how can we be sure that others are not? †
What should we also think of this artificial intelligence from Google —LaMDA, for Language model for dialogue applications — which an engineer at the company, Blake Lemoine, recently confirmed was “aware” and aware? Premature, answer the philosophers Benjamin Curtis and Julian Savulescu in The conversation. “Consciousness goes through the possession of what philosophers call” “quality”. These are the raw sensations of our feelings: pain, pleasure, emotions, colors, sounds, smells.† The capacity to “see the color red”and not just the ability to “Say you see the color red † “LaMDA is a very complex symbol manipulator”, which processes a large amount of data to respond to its interlocutors. But “there’s no reason to think she understands what she’s saying or feeling”†