Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of Ghosts, Machines, and Platonic Shadows

"... Because Tonnies was so young when he tragically passed away at the age of 34 in 2009, and he also had a strong online presence, his death highlights this problem. The information that remains - his reviews, his Website, his blog Posthuman Blues, his tweets, and so on - act like a Platonic shadow."

The above quote is taken from this new, thought-provoking post by ToB on her cool Histories of Things to Come blog entitled : Internet Shadows in Broad, Sunlit Uplands.

She asks: "... Is some virtual reality corner of the Internet going to become the dimension that houses a billion disembodied souls, forever?"

Of course, you know Mac would just love all of this... though, in the end, I think even he became disenchanted with post-humanism and the Singularity. And, in any case, he didn't stick around for it.

I'm supposing the broader aspect of the question is whether or not souls and machines have anything intrinsically in common... "ideas", for instance... and for an answer to that I quote Charlie Brown, who once said: "AARGH!!!"

(Sorry folks, my over-loaded brain just crashed and shut down...beep beep and out...)


  1. The "soul" is merely the intangible bits of the human biological machine (assuming the theological bent that animals do not possess this particular unseen component) - so....given that humans create machines - can the intangible be somehow transmuted to reside within the machine? I think...once a quantum level of complexity has been achieved, we may well see what could very well be the 'soul' in AI.

  2. Ah, so that's it! The "soul" is merely a collection of bits and bytes and buckyballs... I did wonder.

    I guess the key word is "intangible", cause, hey, can't argue with that!

    The idea that animals do not possess "souls", however, is something you'd have to run by my friend, Moo. She'd probably nail your balls to the wall. (She's positively, well, animalistic about the subject...)

    I don't know that merely the ability to create a machine, however, enables one to endow it with... shall we say, animism (?)... I also don't know that...

    Oh, you're just trying to provoke me, aren't you? ;-)

  3. BG,

    Then again, I do rather lean towards the Asian perspective when it comes to soul-consciousness-spirit... specifically Shintoism... which, if I'm getting this straight, professes that all matter, organic and inorganic, is composed of "spirit" and has consciousness. Even your toothbrush! So, be kind to your toothbrush - it might just bite back at you!


  4. Dia, Thanks very much for kindly mentioning my post. I think that we are in danger of being mesmerized by our own creation. Really, cyberspace is a reflection of us and we created it in our own image. If we believe that we have souls (and even most non-religious people do, as well as those more inclined toward faith and spirituality), then we will have created the Internet to be a place where our body-soul dilemma is somehow repeated. It will mirror our metaphysical problems, not just capture aspects of them. That's why I think Paul Laroquod's work is so fascinating.

  5. ToB,

    Thanks for dropping by!

    Re: " then we will have created the Internet to be a place where our body-soul dilemma is somehow repeated. It will mirror our metaphysical problems, not just capture aspects of them."

    I agree... I think we're doing just exactly that (via the internet)! Perhaps its inevitable... humans, I'm afraid, are not, perhaps, the brightest bulbs in the galaxy. And we are such a multitude of fragile, lost articles...

    That being said, one can still place their money on the ideas of "potential", and "evolving". ;-)

    I'm not familiar with Laroquod - please do inform me!