The comment about Boston Scientific was really a kind of placeholder for what I really wanted to write about.

That takes me to deeper waters than I normally like to swim, so I’m only going to walk out till the water is no higher than my ankles and just splash around a bit.

What strikes me about Dmitry Itskov’s program, which of course has been a subject for any number of science fiction plots, is its radical egocentrism. A best, Descartes mind/body mistake taken to the extreme. Or maybe the trap of modeling the brain as an information process system.

I think the brain needs to be thought of as an extension of the senses. Without a connection to the environment, which includes other people, in an epistemological sense, the activities of the mind no longer exists. (Yes, there may be a slight of hand here: brain = mind.)

If a tree fall in a forest, does it make sound? What is the ontological reality of pi if the ratio exists exclusively in one mute mind? (This one is tricky too though. Neil Stephenson tried to write an entire novel about the reality of mathematical concepts. Didn’t like the book very much.)

From another point of view, consider the results of sensory deprivation. Without the senses, ‘reality’ recedes. I would argue this is because without the senses, the mind is missing essential parts. This is different than just lacking sense data.

So to capture and reproduce a mind (interesting that it is referred sometimes as personality or identity), you need to reproduce the senses as well. All 9 to 21 of them. And any artificial reproduction of them, I will argue, would create a different mind.

Final thought. A persuasive theory of speech perception is referred to as the motor theory. It posits that words are represented cognitively by vocal tract gestures. In an extreme form, the motor theory suggests that consciousness emerges as these representation become more neurologically distinct, and thus that proprioceptive senses and audition are a prerequisite to consciousness. (This needs to account for language acquisition by the congenitally deaf, though a parallel between gestures of the limbs and vocal tract gestures immediately suggests itself.)

And then there are mirror neurons.

So my advice to Dmitry Itskov. Give your brain to Boston Scientific, but don’t expect ‘you’ to be the result.

And to the chaps, if you want to see yourself, go for cloning.