Category Archives: Philosophy

July 19

Upload Complete: Transferring your brain to a digital format

Imagine a future in which your brain–conscious mind, memories, and emotions included–could be uploaded to a computer. Once running, the complex computer code would be able to perfectly reflect your mind: reacting as you would, showing your major personality traits, holding your unique knowledge from your life as a human. Maybe your personal code could […]

February 08

Did you do that?

Limited only perhaps by my emotional fortitude and physical abilities, I am unquestionably in control of myself. This sense is perhaps drawn most into question first thing in the morning when I play both sides of an internal civil war: on one side, my bed, on the other, the cold cruel world. Both sides battle […]

November 30

CRISPR and the Real World

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” So begins our country’s Declaration of Independence. While we have learned that this preamble is all too simple in the context of wider society, consider the most basic interpretation of this sentiment; at the precise moment of a child’s birth, broader circumstances […]

August 10

It’s a Fine Line Between Utopia and Gattaca

In a previous piece, we talked about why scientists and innovators around the world are so excited about CRISPR, a powerful new gene editing technology. The tool was first published 2012, but it still regularly makes headlines. Less than a month ago researchers in Portland, Oregon announced the first successful use of CRISPR in human […]

June 15

Your Brain, the Liar

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Thinking machines, like those portrayed in HBO’s Westworld, use new information from their environment to update their beliefs about the world and take action to further their goals. For all such machines, the success of that process of integrating new input is limited by their hardware, […]

September 19

this, that and the Other

The recent shooting in Ferguson, Missouri has thrown our society’s tendency to binarize people into mainstream awareness. News outlets have been criticized for incriminating Michael Brown by selecting pictures where he fulfills black stereotypes instead of pictures in which he looks like one of Us.  Police rely on the same superficial binaries in racial profiling, […]

February 27

Buried Alive

You wake up. It’s pitch black, the air is stale, and your body is pressed by wooden planks on all sides. You try to reach up but your hand hits wooden planks above you. Seized by terror, you try to thrash about but there is no room to move and it’s getting harder to breathe. […]

October 29

The science non-fiction of a bodiless brain

The brain. Nestled cozily inside its skull and properly integrated with its body’s peripheral nervous and circulatory systems, the organ is revered as a sacred abode for our thoughts, emotions, and identity. But extracted from this natural habitat, its slimy cortex and gyrating gyri can make one squeamish. Don’t worry, we neuroscientists aren’t offended. It’s […]

October 27

The Shape of Things to Come

Experts overwhelmingly agree: Robots will soon overthrow humanity. The only question is whether they will merely enslave us1 or will entirely destroy the human race2,3,4. To better face our coming downfall, it is important to understand how machines will gain the powers to destroy us. They have already bested us in chess5, game shows6, and […]

October 10

neurophilosodiction

Neuroscientists and philosophers swim together in a pool of loaded words and phrases: “consciousness”, “free will”, “attention”, “decision making”, and so forth. Because defining these concepts is important to both fields, semantic debate tends to muddy the water. For instance, do we have free will?  Don’t worry…I’m not here to convince you that my view […]