The Consciousness Cop-out
It’s far from the first time he’s explained this perspective, but during today’s 3rd Annual Terasem Colloquium on the Law of Transbeman Persons, the immortal Marvin Minsky reiterated the position that the term consciousness is really a cop-out. I was grateful to catch the last few hours of this event via phone-in conference call and equally grateful for the impressive transcription provided during Michael Anissimov’s impressive live blogging performance. Minsky’s position, as logged by Anissimov:<blockquote>I don’t believe there is such a thing as consciousness. Consciousness is a high-level word we use as an abbreviation for about 20 types of mental activities: remembering what we have recently done, reflecting on whether what we’ve done is consistent with our moral model, etc. I believe humans have used “consciousness” for several centuries as an excuse for not thinking about what’s really going on.</blockquote>Irrepressibly engaging Terasem maven, CyBeRever, and Lifenaut Martine Rothblatt wrapped up the session by extending and further developing some of the implications of Minsky’s view of consciousness and reiterating the now-familiar concept of transbemanism, juxtaposing that against the pros and cons of corporate personhood, and then proposing a new type of personhood test, derived from the current “real life test” required prior to gender change; as she put it, “Turing meets Freud meets Christine Jorgensen.”
Be sure to catch the entire live blog entry of this fascinating and productive session over at Accelerating Future. If I understand correctly, video and or audio may also be available, soon.