Can machines be programmed to perform exactly like a biological mind? Is animal flesh required in order to reproduce the phenomenal workings of the mind-body?
I’ve heard those who believe that, yes, all that matters is the function of the system that reproduces the mind. They say, we will one day be able to program our way toward personhood with artificial intelligence: systems that register inputs and produce certain outputs depending on the information coded in their programmed genetics, and in cases such as connectionist systems, can react and adapt to different inputs by rewiring connections of their “neurons”. They know how to react and adapt depending on their programming, which is constantly changing depending on the environments they experience.
This sounds almost identical to the functioning of mind-body organisms; making us run to the idea that technology and advancement will one day bring us to design machines that replicate the biological mind.
But I feel as if there is one more aspect of the mind that can’t quite be pinned down in our programming. What of those inner-monologues we experience that at times can determine the way in which perceive sensory input?
Our selves tend to behave how they are adept to behaving in familiar environments; every day we can engage in our habitual rituals of waking up to the same cup of sucrose-latte coffee and play the same website games and then open the same Subaru car door to ease it along with the rhythmic press of the gas pedal for another 30 minutes- and no matter that its that same foot with same car on the same road, we experience each drive differently.
It depends on how we choose to use our energy to move forward and the way we give up to the slow ease or fast halt of the brake. In the end, it seems that our relationship to the road is often all that matters.
We experience each drive differently as our mind constantly changes depending on our own inner-monologues. If distraction comes along and we swerve to the side, we either realize that we must pay closer attention or we throw our hands up and say “whoops” and continue to experience the distraction; we can either register our experiences in ways that change and rewire our neural pathways or we can ignore sensory material and barely work to grow our mind’s connections.
I’d say, all beings attain the capacity to transform their relationships with the sensory input they experience, and that sensory input includes our internal-monologues.
We mentally and biologically can react to the thoughts of our minds; people suffer from psycho-somatic illnesses, which means the way in which they perceive their situation enables them to biologically react in pre-conceived ways ways. Women who whole-heartedly believe they are pregnant begin to lactate; people who are convinced by their doctors that a wart will go away with meditation or any other prescribed remedy often see almost-immeditate results.
We can consciously believe that certain actions will engender outcomes for the better, and as a result, actually cure ourselves of certain “symptoms.” (I put this word in quotes because in the case of placebo effects, “symptoms” are not only referring to biological externalities [such as in the case of warts, check it out http://worldunraveled.blogspot.com/2012/09/placebo-trick-and-treating.html] , but also to the products of one’s own cognition.)
We know the human has the potential for these capacities of self-healing and self-destructing, and surely we are pre-disposed to particular tendencies to either help ourselves or harm ourselves depending on our genetic programming and past experiences; but we are still always left with the capacity to transform these relationships with our selves.
The self can engender growth and change independently; there is some inner-power, a collection of past that constantly can experience the present, and from there transform or remain stagnant. We have the power to rewire the connections between neurons in our brain; we can learn ways that help us gain strength, for example, in our pre-frontal cortex - the “CEO” of the brain, whose lack of neural connections often engender symptoms such as depression, paranoia, addiction, and that mindless chatter associated. Research shows that meditation- a sort of disassociated concentration on some present experience allows for connectivity and growth in this region of the brain.
How we interpret and react to (our relationship with) our environments alters us neurobiologically. Our relationships to experiences changes the brain which constantly governs the body from which emerges the mind.
I suppose we can program a computer (robot) to change itself depending on what it’s programmed to believe; but could a robot’s belief ever engender emotion? Could the programming of a robot cause it to feel fear and then learn to overcome that fear? Maybe it could show furrowed eyebrows and speak rapidly, but where would be the emotion behind that overcoming paranoia?
Maybe what it comes down to is that we can program computers to function just like our minds function, but they will never be able to experience the way that our minds experience. They will never be able to visualize imagined colors and images or feel the embodiment of sound.
But what exactly is it that experiences, and why can’t we pin it down?