Quick question Dale. I was having a discussion in my class yesterday about thought and consciousness (though quite frankly I am doubtful/skeptical of such things), and we all wondered what would happen if you transferred a persons brain into another body? Akin to how a heart transplant is done. The individual has died and has a written will deciding to donate their brain tissue to someone who is need of it. Better yet what if you took the lobes of a persons brain and transplanted it into two distinct living bodies? I have my own speculations on the matter, but I wanted to read your thoughts on the matter. Especially since you correlate the brain to a gland, which I am inclined to agree with. I am well aware that brain transplants are not possible as of today, but seeing as how adaptable the physical body is, and how transplants of every kind and type have been/are being tested, and have been successful, I wonder what will happen when surgeons successfully migrate brain tissue or cells from one patient to another.Well, I daresay a dead brain will remain dead even after finding its way to another head, but a sybil shouldn't quibble -- to misquote Noel Coward. As to your larger (is it "larger"?) point, though, I do think we are all much better off crossing this bridge only if we come to it -- as I very much doubt anybody living or even thought of ever will, since I share your skepticism about the proximateness and possibly the very possibility of such techniques. Needless to say, the introduction of tissue or cells into a brain from elsewhere in the body or from somebody else's body or from a lab somewhere, for whatever reason, wouldn't be the same thing as a "brain transplant" in the sense I think you are meaning to evoke, and I am not sure the figure I would mobilize to describe such a modest procedure (let alone the more drastic postulated one) is "migration," with all its baggage of citizen-subjects crossing borders and so on. While I think colorful analogies used in theory can sometimes clarify perplexing conceptual or ethical dilemmas, I wonder whether they sometimes introduce perplexity where they there is little use in it. Robot Cultists rely on such befuddlement (and on general technoscientific illiteracy coupled with irrational passions like fear of aging/death and greed for effortless riches) to peddle their faithful wares, for instance. Nota bene, by the way, that in declaring the brain to be more like a gland than a computer I am not identifying it with a gland so much as dis-identifying it with a computer for the benefit of Robot Cultists who rather ridiculously propose the latter identification. I will add, however, more in the spirit of the thought experiment/romp you have generously invited me to indulge in here, that I do not agree with those who would insist that "I" am only my brain, nor do I concede that the brain alone is the site of the phenomena loosely evoked in the folk terminology "mind" "psyche" "affect" and so on when, to point to the obvious, say, the nervous system extends throughout the body or when there is such inter-implication in what we deem perception, interospection, introspection, and so on.
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Friday, March 22, 2013
Brain On The Train
Upgraded and adapted from the Moot: