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Mechanical bodies and body image
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Please forgive me if I have misinterpreted you, the subject seemed to broad.


Not a problem, mirrormirror. I think the question was pretty specific, as I wanted to narrow or pin down the whole Cartesian dualism thing:

Quote:
The socialogical impact of this might make a resurgence of the ideals of Descartes, claiming that the body and mind are two seperate items. Our bodies could be viewed as vehicles for our minds.


I was directly asking if you view mind as something separate from matter/the body. I'm not sure that's any broader than saying that customized the body will revive Cartesian dualism; I intended the question as a way of learning what you think about the relationship between mind and matter, and as a way of raising the point that Descartes' notion of "mind" is pretty close to that of a "soul".

(I've alluded on this thread to research which suggests that what we sometimes take to be simple mind/body dualism is more akin to an information network or system of subroutines and feedback loops; I might come back to this at some point.)

To get back to your response:

Quote:
If we were to look at the mind from a completely mechanical perspective, it would be the unit of the body that assigns all functional commands. Respiration, heartrate, motor function, and etc.


But is the mind a single unit, or do we just think of it that way? Neuroscientists, neurophilosophers, and evolutionary biologists might take issue with your characterization of the mind as a single unit. Certain areas of the brain perform specialized functions, and evolution seems to have provided our brains with a remarkably interconnected series of functions, routines, subroutines, and behaviors. You can damage a given part of a person's brain and cause specific bodily functions to cease. Some of those functions can be run by implanted devices, or by other mechanical means. But other sorts of damage to the brain can have a negligible impact on the system as a whole. (I'm including both brain and body when I speak of the "whole system".) And other kinds of damage can result in memory (and by extension identity) loss, not to mention brain death.

To put this in more specific terms, and to illustrate my problem with your point: By itself, a brain cannot "feel" pain in a physical sense. (Cut open someone's head and poke the brain, the person doesn't have a neurochemical, neurological, or experiential pain reaction; what happens is something quite different from stubbing your toe or putting your hand in an open flame or having your limbs blown off, and each of these experiences creates a different response from the others.) But the brain can process information and assign something a pain-value based upon the body's reactions to the stimulus, and it can recognize the location and source of a pain.

Even depression requires more than "just" a brain. It requires a system to be depressed...

Pain itself is a complex reaction or series of reactions. And pain can vary in kind and in degree.

Thinkers such as Patricia Churchland, Paul Churchland, and others would argue that the broadness or generality to which you allude can only be addressed by an empirical and scientifically-based reductionism. In short, we have to study brains as parts of bodies, examine how specific stimulus-response relationships and particular neurological and neurochemical processes work, and rethink the way we use certain terms-- possibly jettisoning some terms altogether in favor of accuracy and rigor.

Such reductionism doesn't necessarily imply a purely mechanical reading of the relationship between mind and body. In fact, it implies that the relationships between mind, body, and world are more complex than a simple mechanical model would suggest. (I suppose one could call eliminative reductionism a mechanical model, but it's a model that wants to describe something more complex than any human-created machine, and many proponents of eliminative reductionism would argue that the machine analogy breaks down on a simple level and is therefore of limited value. Neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and neurophilosophers of this sort admit that La Mettrie's "man as machine" model was a forerunner of current thinking but stress that the 18th Century philosopher's post-Cartesian descriptions were limited and based upon certain misunderstandings of how people and machines function, of how the two are different. In this account, La Mettrie couldn't observe certain processes, and his thinking was therefore limited-- as our present thinking and models will seem limited in the future, thanks to improved measurement and recording technologies and better models based upon more and more accurate data.)

This sort of thing comes up a lot in debates over artificial intelligence, and it has a lot to do with how we think about our bodies (and about our body-image).

Quote:
I doubt that we would try to alter the "mind" in the sense that would alter our sense of identity.


A few questions (and again, I'm trying to determine precisely what you mean when you say these things, and I'm offering you feedback on your statements): What makes you doubt that "we" would try to do this? When you say "we", do you mean people living at present, some people living at present, or all people at all times? And don't science, philosophy, and technology change our sense of identity anyway? (One could argue that scientific and mathmatical breakthroughs result in technological advances result in social changes result in new models of self and identity, and that altering our brains would be merely an extension of this sort of process or dialectic. One can think of how the concepts of "possession", "madness", "insanity", and "mental illness" imply different notions of identity, different models of the Self...) And it seems to me that you're using "mind" and "brain" and "identity" interchangeably, or at least as related... If you think they're interchangeable terms, why do you think so? If you think they're related, what is the precise relationship between the terms, from your perspective?
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Lightice



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: Mind Body Dualism Reply with quote

mirrormirror wrote:

I doubt that we would try to alter the "mind" in the sense that would alter our sense of identity. However we would probably build electronic extensions of the mind and command them in the same fashion that we command the motor functions of our own bodies. Thus making us the ultimate user.


But changes on the body always cause changes in the mind. Severe physical injury also causes psychological trauma. In turn, expanding the body's or the brain's functions will undoubtedly expand our sense of identity outside it's current borders. Also, considering that the most severe negative emotions such as depression are today considered as illnesses and treated with medicine, I don't doubt that if a method to get rid of them alltogether is found, it will also be used, even though it could be considered as tampering with the sense of identity.
As such, changes on the body cannot clearly be separated from the changes of the mind. That doesn't follow the Cartesian dualism, in which the mind is a separate entity from the body, rather than it's property or extension. Since we need to consider the body's effects on the mind and other way round, I don't think that Cartesian dualism is the right approach.
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Gillsing



Joined: 25 Nov 2005
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Location: Karlstad, Sweden

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mirrormirror wrote:
In the first movie we see an American programmer that has his prosthetic hands modified in such a manner that allows him to operate a keyboard in a much more efficient manner. Instead of using a mere ten digits, he is using at least twice as many. The human mind is only capable of processing information at a limited speed and our ability to multitask is even more limited. Could it be that this character, is in fact, using data jacks to enhance his ability to assemble/examine code at a much faster pace. I doubt that a typical human mind could operate efficiently 20 fingers without some kind of programmed assistance.
The plotline did not imply that this character was special in any fashion (like say... genius or idot savant: typical plot devices) except that he has cybernetic implants which seem common in this fictional universe.

Way in the back of my version of the manga there's commentary for the pages, and this is the commentary for page 245, where the man with prosthetic hands appear:

Masamune Shirow wrote:
In this story, people of Willis' generation are often not directly linked with cyberbrains because they don't want their own brains fiddled with by cyberbrain doctors young enough to be their children. But since this also limits their dealings with the world, they try to bridge the gap through cyborgization. Willis is a good example.


So it would seem as if Willis does not have a cyberbrain, though I agree that he would most likely need something to keep those fingers moving quickly and accurately enough for them to matter. Perhaps some kind of command parser which... nah, I don't know how he could have a machine read his thoughts without connecting his brain and thus making it a cyberbrain.
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-concept-of-mind



Joined: 15 Dec 2006
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Location: uk Norwich

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

getting mechanical upgrades would not necessarily improve self esteem, but you have to look at it from a bigger perspective, for one thing age would no longer be an issue nor would dying (unless by some freak accident) the definition of human existence for one part is evolution, why should we stay in human bodies when all they do is decay and rot, crossing roads with cyberisation is the next step in defining who we are and improving our lives.


for example:

to be able to examine and touch and feel a certain object through a computer via instant messaging would improve communications and realism though not even being able to be there! connecting your brain through a link to your computer could even impose on sexual nature, though not its most direct reason for being but thats where I can see most people using that technology from when it becomes a thing of the past or distant lovers.


body upgrades would prevent disease's, infection, and of course dying. people that would object morally about cyberisation would be in the wrong what ever concept they derieve from this new technology, sooner or later evolution will surpass even morality and definition of human existence.
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Lethagrin



Joined: 02 Jul 2006
Posts: 9
Location: eastern part of New York

PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply because society is able to assimilate according to their physical appearance doesn’t mean they will jump on any opportunity to do so. Humans want to be unique and customizing your appearance could be just as regular as choosing your avatar. I know that I am always annoyed when I'm playing an RPG and I'm in a group of people who look exactly like me.

If you are expressing yourself and its safe then I don't see any problem in it. However I do expect there to be some who decide to express themselves similarly but that doesn't mean they are assimilated on the inside.

Personally I would prefer a body which the skin produces orange pigment and the hair produces blue pigment. But does this mean I am stepping off of the accepted line? Where is the drawing point to personal alteration? Who gets to decide? Hopefully no one does.
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Jeni Nielsen



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 405

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lethagrin wrote:
Simply because society is able to assimilate according to their physical appearance doesn’t mean they will jump on any opportunity to do so. Humans want to be unique and customizing your appearance could be just as regular as choosing your avatar. I know that I am always annoyed when I'm playing an RPG and I'm in a group of people who look exactly like me.

If you are expressing yourself and its safe then I don't see any problem in it. However I do expect there to be some who decide to express themselves similarly but that doesn't mean they are assimilated on the inside.

Personally I would prefer a body which the skin produces orange pigment and the hair produces blue pigment. But does this mean I am stepping off of the accepted line? Where is the drawing point to personal alteration? Who gets to decide? Hopefully no one does.


I agree that humans want to be unique, but we also want to be unique in acceptable ways. Which is why the human condition is so weird and screwed up if you ask me.

I think what's acceptable fashion is never really "decided" by anyone in particular. Which is why its so insidious. Nobody ever really directly tells girls that they'd be liked more if they wore makeup and wore the trendiest fashions, but a lot of the time that's the message they get. The media is saturated with images of popular idols dressing and acting in certain ways. People see those images and then feel like they should copy those people in order to fit in. I believe that this is how things become fashionable. Which sucks.
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Lethagrin



Joined: 02 Jul 2006
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Location: eastern part of New York

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So personally what do you think people will do? Conform to the same body type and create the end to all we know as personality? Personally in my world (high school) this has allready happened except for a select few. I know what it's like to feel insuperior but I also know what it's like to feel unique in a sea of people who exactly alike.

However, out of high school I know noone who is assymilated and noone who even wants to...

So to me, I dont see a problem like that ever happening on a large scale. Those people you see on TV who have an "addiction" to changing their body are one in a million I would think. Otherwise why would it be shown?
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Jeni Nielsen



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 405

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lethagrin wrote:
So personally what do you think people will do? Conform to the same body type and create the end to all we know as personality? Personally in my world (high school) this has allready happened except for a select few. I know what it's like to feel insuperior but I also know what it's like to feel unique in a sea of people who exactly alike.

However, out of high school I know noone who is assymilated and noone who even wants to...

So to me, I dont see a problem like that ever happening on a large scale. Those people you see on TV who have an "addiction" to changing their body are one in a million I would think. Otherwise why would it be shown?


Well if you think about it conforming is what you make of it. Somebody said that if you look at it even all the goths and punks wear the same uniform. They are actively trying to be non-mainstream, but they're doing it in stereotypical ways. Show me people who are pushing the limits of society and I'll show you something that will be pase in a few years. Just look at avant-garde art.

I think that having a cyber-body would make it much easier for people to change how they look. Plastic surgery would be no less drastic than putting on a new arm or having a new wrist installed. Though it may end up being just as time consuming and expensive. I personally don't think that the human mindset is that easy to change. If you grow up in a society that's body/image conscious then it isn't going to change much if you throw cybernetics into the equation, but then again who knows? I only posed the question to see what other people think.
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Epiphany



Joined: 08 Dec 2006
Posts: 260
Location: South Florida

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I would end up with several faces and bodies in my closet.
One for every occasion.

I wouldn't want to get my formal face and body wet surfing or diving
Or heaven forbid. Use my everyday body at a job interview. The I would also need several ethnic bodies and faces for when I go clubbing in Miami.

then I would have to have a copy of the flavor of the month celebrity body / face.

Then I would also need a mans body for those days when I just can't deal with the double standards my sex has to deal with.

Oh yeah. I would need one that looks like me for those family type get togethers.
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Lethagrin



Joined: 02 Jul 2006
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Location: eastern part of New York

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I guess I would end up with several faces and bodies in my closet.
One for every occasion.

I wouldn't want to get my formal face and body wet surfing or diving
Or heaven forbid. Use my everyday body at a job interview. The I would also need several ethnic bodies and faces for when I go clubbing in Miami.

then I would have to have a copy of the flavor of the month celebrity body / face.

Then I would also need a mans body for those days when I just can't deal with the double standards my sex has to deal with.

Oh yeah. I would need one that looks like me for those family type get togethers.


But if you did that... then what would happen to you? Wouldn't there be some mental breakdown of not having a physical identity to associate yourself with? Also how would anyone know who you were? Of course when you linked up with them they would know for sure but... would you know yourself?
To some people physical identity is a major part of their life. Take that away and what do they have? How strong is the human mind alone without a secure "shell" to hold on to.
Like the Major said, most people who enter the net as a lone consciousness become eventually part of it... unable to break free.

So if you change your physical identity as many times as you change your socks then... what is there to really hold on to? Yes maybe some strong minded people could cope with the changes, but for how long?
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Phalanx Observation



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before I begin, I would like to mention that I recently registered for this forum because it attracted me with its members' maturity and the board's topics. I'm probably not as educated as most of you as I have only just began college this year, but I'd love to add my thoughts into this delicious stew.

Regarding the topic at hand, I would like to introduce the idea that in the future, it's possible that society may not be as focused on physical appearance. Consider the following: If what Jenni (and Shirow) suggests the future entails of humans and cybernetic bodies, we can assume that cyberized brains we closely follow, or maybe even precede bodies. If not only because of the belief that the mind is inseparable from the body, than for legality purposes as well. When you think about it, if people can change their appearance at will, than the main source of identification must come from communicated internal data, similar to an IP on a computer. Would you agree that this is the most logical way to identify people in the society aforementioned? Similarly, we could assume that from a social standpoint, individuality will be based on internal data like memories, beliefs and preferences. A probable way to emulate a unique persona would be something like uploading in mind-speed a general profile of you to someone else, void of your true physical appearance, but rather a mental image on how you perceive yourself. Or perhaps an image created by an AI that may emulate your character into a visual form. For instance, on a basic level, an overly aggressive personality may cause the AI to add more prominent frown lines and a wilder look in their eyes. (Perhaps I may be fictionalizing this too much, but to me this is completely plausible.)

I've drawn to the conclusion that with restriction authorities may enforce (IP’s) and the desire to be unique by uploading “instant profiles” would, ultimately, make this new “Internally Constructed Persona” the new basis of attraction and ultimately eliminating society’s body/image consciousness.

I feel like I’ve left gaps, but it’s difficult to fill them unless I was asked specifically in regards to them. I apologize, but it seems that my mind is not as mature as some who can get a solid view of their posts. I’m eager to hear responses.
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Epiphany



Joined: 08 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was being sarcastic in my earlier post. I don't think the human mind can handle anywhere near the social implecations alone, not to mention the legalalities that would be placed on such technologies. Yet when you add to that the fact that people are judged way to often by the way we look it is reasonable to assume that body changing technology would be a social and legal nightmare without some form of strict control. Would we have to be licensed like a car and carry a title and registration form around with us. How would the government handle all this body changing. Would we have illegal body swap shops in every large city. ( Reminds me of the "New You" shop in Logans Run )

I got a boob job last year and it drastically changed my self image and not all for the better. Physical change directly effects the mind.

Would Steven Hawkins have done all he's done in physics if he could have been out snowboarding? Would Pamala Anderson ever leave the body shop? Would anyone ever just leave well enough alone? The spy in GITS that was kidnapping all the young girls looked 30 at the most but she was in her 80's I think. Would we look like a teenage when the effects of aging sets in on our gray matter? Would all orginized crime sydicates have their own body swap shops?

I know I wasn't ready for the simple change I made. How would our minds and our society cope with the drastic changes all this implies.
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Lethagrin



Joined: 02 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a response to Phalanx Observation's idea,

So what do you think, the human body will just become a public output on one's current emotional situation.

That's pretty much already programed into us, i.e. tears, smiles, frowns, wrinkled forehead. But what you are saying is make the human body language more intense? Or... are you talking about even more drastic changes such as weight, height, skin color, ect...

When couples break up they turn blue and big eyed or when someone is embarrassed they shrink to one third their size.

Curious
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Jeni Nielsen



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lethagrin wrote:
As a response to Phalanx Observation's idea,

So what do you think, the human body will just become a public output on one's current emotional situation.

That's pretty much already programed into us, i.e. tears, smiles, frowns, wrinkled forehead. But what you are saying is make the human body language more intense? Or... are you talking about even more drastic changes such as weight, height, skin color, ect...

When couples break up they turn blue and big eyed or when someone is embarrassed they shrink to one third their size.

Curious


That would lead to something like a physical emoticon. Curious indeed.
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Phalanx Observation



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, not exactly what I envisioned, but the use of emoticons are accurate. Although I'm envisioning an instant "download" of, say, a profile of yourself that's open for the public. Say You were at a grocery store and a man/woman smiles at you. You're intrigued, so you instantly look up their "profile." "Well, look at that--s/he likes the Shins as well," or "Oh, s/he's a vegetarian...s/he'd never like my bbq ribs I make."

As far as the emoticons was concerned, that's pretty much on the nose. I think of the overall idea something like a MySpace profile (I know, how cliche.) Of course, that's not to say that the 'user' could not hide their emotional felings from the public, which is understandable. I think this system would be much clearer, since body language nowadays can be ambigious and hard to to read for some. Was that a little clearer?

ADD: However, I don't think the emoticons would be, say, a smiley face or something of that nature. I believe they would stimulate their brain to emulate your feelings, maybe a dulled down stimulation as not to affect the person viewing as much, but enough to convey your thoughts. A true emoticon! Haha, you guys think I'm insane, don't you?
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