Thursday, 6 December 2012

For or Against Evolution

The question is what is it that we want to evolve. Is it our bodies, our minds? Or our technology, which will all too soon make our bodies obsolete?
There are prophets of impending doom, Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near) foremost among them. Only he didn’t recognize it as doom. His arguments sounds almost as a blessing, hailing the time when computers surpass the human acumen.
Do we care? Should we?
The scientists will probably have me shot, but, well, I don’t care that much. It is true that the vast majority of us will be replaced by computers. After all, they are smarter, faster, and don’t go on strike. They don’t even get sick, or fat and ugly. I am more concerned how quickly I can replace the dead cells in my brain. How quickly I can make new connections, synapses, between those new neurons and the old ones. Yes, we can do it from childhood all the way to old age.
It takes a little effort.
And then, I got a helping hand from an unexpected quarter. A professor of neurology from Harvard made a statement, which I also made at the age of 14. I asked my uncle, also a professor at a university, if mind was the product of the brain, or was it the other way round.
“Don’t be childish,” he replied. “The brain is what makes us tick. It generates thought.” He said it in a slightly more scientific way. And now, a fully accredited professor from Harvard made a statement, which restored my faith in my youthful ramblings.
“I’m not my brain,” the doc said on PBS, “I’m the user of my brain. I use my mind to control my brain.”
I waited many years to have my thesis confirmed by a man with a PhD after his name. So I am not the raving maniac some of my friend consider me to be. My mind, the intangible, invisible mind, controls the tactile, visible, material, group of cells which other scientists recognize as the centre of our awareness. I, on the other hand, treat my brain as a computer conveniently located inside my head.  
I felt vindicated.
Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, the said professor of neurology at Harvard, said so. In public. 
Henceforth, I hope that at least some of us, just a few, will continue to work hard to replace our brain cells until one day, another Mozart, or Beethoven, or Chopin or Moussorgsky, or Leonardo will be born, and we, the few, will be overwhelmed with joy.
And computers, so much smarter than we are, will have no idea what all the fuss is about.

If you’re a student of reality, you might enjoy my thoughts on it in DELUSIONS—Pragmatic Realism

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