Human Mind and Its Carriers: Is It Possible to Transform Ourselves into Robots?

12 September, 2021

Vasilyev V.
Published in: Вопросы философии. 2021. Т. № 9. С. 105–117.

In this paper I discuss some aspects of the problem of carriers of human mind and person. The main emphasis is placed on the origin of our idea of the identi­cal self in the stream of perceptions, the need for a physical carrier of our self and person, and on possibility of replacing the biological carriers of self and per­son with artificial analogues. I argue that the idea of identical self is constructed by reflection on memories, that its truth is guaranteed by continuous stream of perceptions kept in memories, and that the stream of perceptions presupposes the presence of a normally functioning brain, which can be considered as a car­rier of our mind and person. Therefore, personal identity turns out to be depen­dent on the identity of the brain in time. An attempt to copy the structures of mind and person onto other possible carriers can thus only lead to creation of duplicates of the original person, but not to the continuation of its existence on another carrier. I argue that the gradual replacement of their components with artificial analogues is a more promising way of transforming the biological carri­ers of human person. To access the possible consequences of such a replacement I analyze arguments of John Searle and David Chalmers, designed to show, re­spectively, the disappearance of consciousness and person with such a replace­ment and, on the contrary, their preservation in a previous state. I explain why Searle’s arguments are unconvincing, and demonstrate that Chalmers’ arguments are based on a hidden premise, the confirmation of which is possible in the con­text of dubious theories of mind-body identity, epiphenomenalism or panpsy­chism only. I conclude that in the current situation it is impossible to predict which consequences for our person would follow such a replacement.