The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Seminar #46: Life and Mind ‘As-It-Could-Be’

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on January 19, 2009

This will be a joint seminar between the E-Intentionality seminar series and the Life and Mind seminar series.

Life and Mind ‘As-It-Could-Be’: Technological Methodologies for a Science of Subjectivity

Tom Froese

4:30 p.m. Thursday, 22 January – Pevensey I 1A1

In this seminar I want to reflect on the role of recent technological developments, in particular the creation of artificial intelligence and sensory augmentation interfaces, in relation to the goal of gaining a better understanding of life and mind. I will argue that both forms of technology are indispensable if we want to obtain insights into the essential aspects of the phenomenon of subjectivity in terms of both its living (third-person) and lived (first-person) features.

Generally speaking, in order to determine the essential aspects of a particular phenomenon it is necessary to know its ranges of variability and conditions of break-down, namely those situations when it ceases to be the type of phenomenon it originally was and becomes something else. However, since the appropriate kind of variation is often hard to find in terms of factual cases, technology might be of help here. It has already been recognized, for example, that the field of artificial life can make a substantial contribution by mapping out the domain of life as-it-could-be (Langton).

But what about the first-person aspects of subjectivity? Here I will try to show that there are some essential similarities between the methods of artificial modelling and those that have been developed by the phenomenological tradition of first-person study. Moreover, I will argue that a similar technological supplementation of this first-person research might be possible, for example through the use of sensory augmentation interfaces. The starting point for this endeavour thus could be a systematic investigation of perception as-it-could-be.

All welcome!

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