Why Cyborgs are Conscious
Organização:  CFCUL & CIUHCT
Ciências ULisboa
23 / 06 / 2022

In recent years the idea that humanity will, or already is, enhancing itself technologically is becoming more obvious. Not long ago, creatures such as cyborgs only existed in the sci-fi culture, i.e. in movies like “Star Trek”. However as the technological evolution advances, we see potential or even actual development towards enhanced or cyborg-like human beings. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves whether or not our sci-fi idea of cyborgs is still accurate. This means, the answer to the question ‘What is a cyborg?’ is becoming more and more pressing. To help overcome this challenge, this paper seeks to investigate the possible restriction of what a cyborg is. The objective is to re-evaluate the original definition of cyborgs, first presented by Clynes and Kline (1960). To do so, I will take at face value the recently introduced Mind-Technology Problem (Clowes, Gärtner and Hipólito, 2021). This successor problem to the Mind-Body Problem claims that we need to re-conceptualize the nature of mind and its relationship to technological artifacts by asking ourselves how the mind is transformed, extended and enabled by our advancing (smart) technologies. To limit the scope of this rather vast enterprise, I will concentrate on merely one key element of the mind, namely phenomenal consciousness. Consequently the question I want to explore here is how phenomenality and human technological enhancement interact. The goal is to think about possible limits of how phenomenal consciousness can be transformed, extended or enabled by our (smart) technologies which, or so I will argue, also provides limits to what a cyborg is.

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