Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sue Barnes and Marvin Minsky Challenged

While no one has directly responded to the readings yet, I wanted to address a couple of things I thought about in CH. 14.

It was suggested that "By connecting ourselves to artificial worlds in cyberspace we not only leave our physical bodies, but also the physical world in which we live (p. 233)." I believe that this may conceptually be possible when one enters a MUD, MOO or themed chat room however, often times I believe that what one does online often overlaps into the real world. Personas lived in VR as described by Barnes on pg. 243 with her example of "The Naked Lady," prove that the development or change of self in the real world can be a direct result of one's connection to virtual worlds. Another way in which online communication and social interaction overlaps into our every day life is with the use of social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. From my experience, people on these sites primarily interact with friends and family. Besides the "edited" version of one's personality given in one's profile, people tend to try and represent who they actually are in the real world through customizing profile settings. It is less likely for someone to develop an entirely new persona or "character" in this environment where they are affiliated with the same people in the real world. And because they are dealing with friends and family, the CMC occurring here becomes more of an extension of one's real life into cyberspace.
Another point I wanted to debate was Minsky's discussion about replacing one's brain (or biological brain cells) with computer chips. Minsky says that microscopic difference between the human individual and the digital self would have microscopic differences because "it would be impractical to duplicate with absolute fidelity, all the interactions in the brain (p. 235)." He argues that these microscopic differences would not matter "because we are always changing as we age. Because people are never the same from one moment to the next, you cannot claim that your brain machine is not you...Therefore, from Minsky's view, there is no difference between the real you and your digital clone." .... I disagree.
Although we do change with age, the digital replication of you could not compare with you or be you as you might age. As we grow, new life experiences affect how we will react to certain situations in the future. As we learn/grow as individuals and have new experiences, we often change how we will react to certain situations in the future create new emotions. Your digital self cannot replicate these new emotions, reactions or sense of logic unless they are streamed data on your every new experience directly as you experience them and can learn directly from your reactions. Still, as a result your digital self would only be mirroring you current personality. An equal, individual/independent growth of the digital self that might parallel your physical self (like a clone) seems impossible. I think that the differences matter.
Also check out an interesting and kind of relevant link to this chapter about "Robots [Who] Learn To Lie".
See you all in class!

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