Thursday, December 6, 2012

On being "alive" in a cybernetic/robotic/symbiotic future.

The notion of created entities exhibiting behaviors that bring to mind the concept of being "alive" have existed in fiction for some time (e.g. Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" or in a more "modern" vein Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot"). A more subtle type of created entity exists today beyond mechanical cybernetics or robotics, but entities that can be virtually alive, as characters in games, cyber-worlds, or online-networks.

The inter-actions and relationships we have with such entities is as real as with a live human, for whom such virtual presentations are an avatar. As such, the notion of what it means to be "alive", in some sense, needs to be revisited, in much the same vein as Descartes observation, "cogito, ergo sum." By this I mean a phrase such as, "I interact, therefor I am" or "ego penitus, ergo sum."

My good friend Camilla Corona SDO has been criticized, in spite of inspiring and exciting people about space and science around the world, of being a "dead rubber chicken." Au contraire, I say, she is alive as you or I. I would compare her work and record of accomplishment against any who choose to cast a stone... How many of you have been the subject of a Wired magazine article, after all: "How a Rubber Chicken Became a NASA Celebrity"

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