Art and Science

A world without art has no love, a world without science has no warmth. The empowering feeling of artistic creation is rivaled only by the sensation of uncovering another truth of the universe. They are symbiotic, artistic endeavor explores the fringes of our understanding; scientific rigor widens the understanding.

"Art for art's sake is pointless."

"Knowledge without application is pointless."

A naive statistician might even agree at first glance, almost all children are given the tools of art in school. Few try and most who do fail to become professional artists. Similarly, almost all children receive science education, most will end up working in retail. But in that lies the secret of evolutionary success, maintain the status quo and where you can afford spending resources - probe the unknown.

Knowledge enhances art, art sheds light on where to seek new knowledge. The stunning vistas of Interstellar are made only more stunning by our knowledge of cosmology. The consequences of interstellar travel are made only more wrenching by our experiences of love.

Modern technology makes survival easier than ever. Now is the time to wrestle against our evolutionary baggage, our desire to simply maintain status quo. It's time now to paint more, to sing more, to write more, to explore more, to study more, to learn more, and to love more. Live long and prosper.

Rest in peace Leonard Nimoy.

Speciated Speciation

It may be possible at some point the future, to convert your biological consciousness into engineered/manufactured consciousness. The method I find the most logical is the neuron-by-neuron replacement strategy. It entails replacing small numbers of neurons in the brain with manufactured neurons while the subject is conscious.

A single neuron being destroyed and quickly replaced with an artificial neuron of identical performance should in theory preserve the consciousness of the human being "upgraded". You continue this process over a period of time (it may take weeks or even months) until all of your neurons have been replaced.

At that point you now have killed your own biological nervous system. Continuing this line of logic until its ultimate conclusion: what if you replaced every component of your body with engineered replacements? I think the term robot would be a poor descriptor, cyborg might be better but it implies at least some vestige of natural biologic matter remains - for the sake of convenience I'll call these altered humans cyborgs.

These changes could very well eradicate the altered human's ability to reproduce with unaltered humans. If the altered human was completely unable to share genetic material with other altered humans they would no longer be rightly categorized as a human, or even a member of any species at all.

For any human to take on such radical changes the advantages of being a cyborg must greatly outweigh not being one (especially if it prevents sexual reproduction). Increased sensory, physical, mental, and creative abilities; improved longevity; improved survivability; and many others would be necessary to sell the idea of eliminating ones own flesh.

Such upgrades might include a way to self-monitor and self-analyze. Continuously collecting data that, just like selective pressure on DNA, could be used to improve future cyborgs. In fact the data could be used to improve the very same cyborg who collected it, a significant improvement from our current biological model of passing on a dice-roll of upgrades/downgrades to your offspring.

Such a state of existence would be a fundamentally new way to evolve and speciate, genetic information would no longer be passed from one generation to the next in series, but from one member to any others in a network.

I think it's going to be very cool, and very interesting.

Transporter of Theseus

Identity persists despite massive change.

Let's start with Lego bricks. If I create something with a single brick, then replace it, no one would argue it's the same something. The bricks are indeed quite similar, they were created in the same mold with the same plastic. But they are not the same.

When we start adding more bricks to whatever it is we are building, replacing a single brick becomes less and less significant. If we have a small lego house and substitute a roof tile it's still very much the same house.

Therefore at some point there was sufficient complexity in the system such that replacing a single component of the system does not fundamentally alter its identity.

In life this is much the same, your body is constantly turning over cells internally. Some die, some replicate, others persist. There is real, measurable replacement happening on multiple levels of scale. The smaller you go, the more often replacement takes place: cells replace less frequently than organelles than proteins than molecules than atoms.

Some of the atoms that you are made of are not the same atoms you had yesterday. The further back in time you look, the more change we will see. Internally, the only persistent connection we have to our past arrangements of atoms is through memory, which itself is plastic and malleable.

This notion of identity carrying over despite internal replacement is the Ship of Theseus problem. It has serious implications about what identity really means, and Star Trek transporters.