Archive for October, 2009

Forking – episode 1

Monday, October 26th, 2009

“Forking” is the story of a man who is accidentally duplicated.  It is both thought experiment and short(ish) fiction.  The thought experiments of philosophers are often thin stuff, which fail to paint a coherent, credible picture.  Because readers’ imaginations are undernourished by the lack of detail, so are their philosophical conclusions about the possibilities being described.  Fiction invites readers into a more richly imagined world which can engage them on several levels – emotionally, aesthetically, intellectually, morally – as they are engaged in real life. If a story is well told, readers’ judgements about it should be close to what they would think if they were to live in the world it portrays.

Forking 1Finally an email from Dalton, on the last possible day.  With misgivings, Elliot opens it.  Nothing at all in the body, just Dalton’s signature and the animated IGo logo scrolling endlessly across the page.

Elliot opens the attachment – his own presentation – and starts flipping through it.   Dalton’s markup starts on the fourth slide. “DATA VOLUMES?  NOOOOO!!!!” in 60-point Arial.  Wincing, Elliot flips to the next slide.  A fat red X covers all five bullet points.  Next slide.  Another X.  The next slide has another note.  “FORGET DATA VOLUMES.  ENERGY IS MEANINGLESS.”

Elliot snorts, then closes his eyes.  He can feel pressure building behind them.  Energy is….   How could anyone say that?

Dalton sat on it for a week, more than a week, and now this is his feedback.  Who is this prick?  Just a flak, a lobbyist hired for the PR push the board insisted on.  Dalton impressed the board; he was the man. A dumb flak who can’t use the shift key.  (more…)

Progress in Replication Technology

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Nanomanufacturing3All that’s needed to make a case for radical reform of the idea of self is a thought-experiment with a clear and compelling outcome.  However, the world is full of people who pay no attention to thought-experiments, however revealing they may be in exposing inconsistencies in everyday ideas, because thought-experiments aren’t ‘real’.  These are people from Missouri, as the saying goes, who demand to be shown.  And I have nothing to show, yet.

But even people from Missouri can be convinced to take a possibility seriously if there’s enough evidence that, although not here yet, it’s coming fast, probably not very far away, not in front of the house yet but closer than the next county.  Like the second Al-Qaeda attack on American soil.  Something worth thinking about.

This post examines the possibility whether we will one day have the capability of replicating a living human being, and if so, when might that be?  (more…)