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Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut

Patent specialist/ Scientist, Rouse & Co International

TEDCRED 200+

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Human mind Vs Robotic program

According to talk by Sabastian Seung "I am my connectome", once we achieve complete connectome map, we may be able to understand how brain works.

I would like to think further. Based on this technology, we will be able to stimulate one's brain with the right signals in order to get the expected outcome; for example, if I'd only know which neurones, synapses and neural activities are triggered when one's playing piano, I'd just be treated with "artificial" stimulus and as a result I should be able to learn how to play the piano (not even have to sit in the lesson myself. How amazing is that!?)

Now, here's the philosophy question. I wonder if we could do that, what would be different between us and robot? Since this neural cascaded partway is the basic how our mind work, now if we could alter it, do we have total control on our mind? Dose free-will still exist in that case? or it dose but in limited scale?

Also with this technology, what else you think we can benefit from and what kind of applications from it that should be extensively reviewed before they will allowed to be used?

Hope this will be a nice informative debate. :D

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  • May 30 2011: Let me pose a few questions:
    Has free-will ever existed? Is absolute free-will even possible? How?
    What are the precise boundaries that determine who you are? Your body, your brain, or just part of your brain?

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    I see no intrinsic difference between us and robots, only temporary extrinsic differences because of current technological restraints.
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      Jun 2 2011: You seem to be suggesting there is no free will. What do you base that on
      • Jun 2 2011: The conventional concept of free will I think people have in mind is libertarian, incompatibilist free will.

        If your actions are determined by your brain and your brain obeys physical laws, there doesn't seem to be any room for free will. If your brain's activities are causally determined, then there's no free will. Even if your brain's activities contain some kind of genuine randomness, that still doesn't permit them to be free.

        I think this post characterizes my view in a more long winded fashion: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/free-will-why-you-still-dont-have-it/ , especially the quote below:

        "Most people’s view of the mind is implicitly dualist and libertarian and not materialist and compatibilist . . . [I]ntuitive free will is libertarian, not compatibilist. That is, it requires the rejection of determinism and an implicit commitment to some kind of magical mental causation . . . contrary to legal and philosophical orthodoxy, determinism really does threaten free will and responsibility as we intuitively understand them" (Greene J & J. Cohen. 2004).
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          Jun 2 2011: Thanks for the reference to Harris' article, Jonathan. I read it quickly and I've got to say I don't get it. I'll need to do more reading on "compatibilism". At the end he concludes: " Thoughts and intentions simply arise in the mind. What else could they do?" I dunno, Sam, what's your theory? Let's test it. He trashes free-will but leaves us with something as inconclusive as that! I don't buy it. Seems to me the article is a mish-mash of ideas about thought and mind that have been chewed on by philosophers for a couple thousand years mixed in with a smattering of recent neuroscience. And, as with philosophy and psychology through the past few centuries, we still have very partial knowledge of how the brain -- the only organ of consciousness and mind we can be sure of -- works. I will explore more, but I've learned to be more patient and wait until more is known scientifically with these deeply complex questions before standing on some conclusion. In the meantime we can all have a lot of fun with speculation, personal hypotheses, and opinions here on the TED forums. When science finally spells it out we'll have lost an entertaining mystery.

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