By Alex Vikoulov
"It matters that we recognize the very large extent to which individual human thought and reason are not activities that occur solely in the brain or even solely within the organismic skin-bag. This matters because it drives home the degree to which environmental engineering is also self-engineering. In building our physical and social worlds, we build (or rather, we massively reconfigure) our minds and our capacities of thought and reason." -Andy Clark
The mind isn't locked in the brain, it extends far, far beyond. When we outsource our cognition to our technology, be it smartphone or notebook, our mental constructs entail patterns of thought and reasoning beyond our capacity to formulate them solely with our brains. In writing, for example, we are not simply recording our thinking but doing the thinking "on paper", so to speak. Every time we make a telephone or Skype call, we create a "techno-cultural wormhole" through space and time between two minds. Today, our "embodied mind" can roam Mars and even traverse intergalactic space outside our solar system. Philosophers of mind Andy Clark, who formulated the Extended Mind Hypothesis, together with David Chalmers, also known for the Hard Problem of Consciousness, propose that mental states, such as beliefs and memories, can also be located "externally", as extension of mind.
Andy Clark defines humans as "natural-born cyborgs" - the human mind is already augmented by routinely incorporating all kinds of non-biological props and scaffoldings. Our "wetware", the human brain, even though processing information at the mind level, doesn't produce a conscious experience itself. We create our tools to extend our reach, to exercise our will, to build the scaffolding of our minds in our surroundings. By doing that, we are engaged in active ontological design - everything we design, designs us back. We need to transcend our "skin-bag bias" - our tools, our technology is a natural extension of us - just like spiderweb or anthill are extensions of those insect species. Our collective, technologically extended mind represents the noosphere, or global superorganism, consisting of the interconnected totality of all sentient beings, and a higher level of consciousness possessed by it. This mindspace insinuates a future where boxes, wires, keyboards, and crude mechanisms will disappear from sight while our technologies keep on minituarizing and blending with us and our aesthetically pleasing environments, when imagination instantly materializes, and a world is rendered at the speed of thought, when everything links with everything else, and matter becomes mind.
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Tags: self-transcendence, transcendence, neuroscience, collective intelligence, sentience, extended phenotype, artificial intelligence, consciousness, exocortex, Andy Clark, David Chalmers, Extended Mind Hypothesis, Hard Problem of Consciousness, wetware, mindware, ontological design, conscious experience, noosphere, superintelligence, singularity, mind uploading, the Syntellect emergence, technological singularity, Intelligence Supernova,, transcendentalism, neo-transcendentalism
*Image Credit: NASA, Shutterstock
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, singularitarian, evolutionary extrapolist, digital philosopher, futurist, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter and media artist, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution". Graduated from Armstrong University, Berkeley, CA. Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area).