Showing posts from April, 2015

The cognitive short-circuit of 'artificial consciousness'

The new sci-fi film Ex_Machinahas been teasing back into the cultural dialogue dreams of artificial consciousness: the idea that we humans, through the Faustian power of technology, can birth into being mechanisms capable of inner life, subjectivity and affection. Since these dreams are entirely based on implicit assumptions about the nature of consciousness and reality at large, I thought a few observations would be opportune.

The first thing to notice is the difference between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness. The former entails the ability to process information in ways that we consider intelligent. In particular, an intelligent machine should be capable of constructing an internal, symbolic representation of its environment so to interact coherently with it. We can test whether a machine is intelligent or not purely by observing its behavior in the environment. Alan Turing's famous test aims precisely at that. However, none of the symbolic information proc…

My social media policy and useful references to my philosophy

[Updated 9 April 2016]
This post aims to calibrate expectations about my social media presence, as well as to provide useful resources that could avoid the need for you to wait for a social media reply from me. As the visibility of my work increases, it has become impossible for me to maintain the level of social media engagement I used to have. Therefore, I will from now on refer to this post in situations wherein I cannot engage as extensively as before.

1   Explanations of my philosophical system

I have now written six books, dozens of essays, and recorded several videos. My philosophical system cannot be explained in a couple of brief online comments. Therefore, please consider looking up some references (see below) if you are curious about my ideas. This is likely the best and fastest route for you anyway, since I can't properly or timely convey the scope of my ideas through short messages on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, comments on my blog, or even my own discussion f…

Beyond Reason

By Aditya Prasad
(This is a guest essay submitted to the Metaphysical Speculations Discussion Forum and voted for publication by forum members. All opinions expressed are those of the author.)

It is very hard to know at any moment whether or not you are dreaming. I taught myself at age 4 to dream lucidly, and have had over a thousand lucid dreams since, and I still find myself frequently generating false positives when I investigate whether or not I'm awake.
On the surface, this might seem absurd. Surely when green dragons are flying around your living room, and you even have the presence of mind to check whether you're dreaming, you cannot fail to discover that you are.
And yet, this kind of thing happens all the time for me. Even if my suspicion is aroused by oddities and absurdities, it is apparently trivial for my mind to generate a perfectly satisfying explanation and convince me to move right along. Oh, those are just my pet dragons. I thought they were blue for a sec.

The Reality Nervous System

"When you see the world you see God. There is no seeing God apart from the world. Beyond the world to see God is to be God."*
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
One of the most important ideas discussed in my new book Brief Peeks Beyond, particularly in Chapters 2 and 9, is the notion that empirical reality – all things we see, hear, touch, smell and taste – can be understood as a nervous system. This may sound extremely counterintuitive at first, even absurd, but it elegantly solves many of the most important unanswered questions in science and philosophy today, such as the nature of matter and the so-called 'hard problem of consciousness.' The simplicity and parsimony of this interpretation of reality, together with its surprising explanatory power, render it nearly self-evident in my view. The point is so important that I decided to summarize it in this essay, so to give you a brief sense of its logic and perhaps encourage you to explore it further in the book.

I will lay …

Muddy sea monster reveals the meaning of life

Someone very close to me – a person intimately connected to the matrix of life and nature, as expressed in her highly symbolic art – had a dream this morning that I found extraordinarily significant for reasons I'll soon explain. In her words:

I remember being chased by a huge mud monster that came to the shore from the sea. It would eat anything in its path: bushes, plants and eventually all humanity, because it was heading inland. I and my colleagues managed to run and find shelter in some sort of laboratory, where we would be temporarily out of the path of the monster. While in the lab, I and another woman were supposed to take a test (as in a school test), but we had to choose the test ourselves. I assumed that the more exciting and difficult the chosen test was, the higher the grade could be. I found an interesting crossword puzzle with images, but I thought it would be too easy and not the type of test I was expected to choose. At some point, I dropped the test and left the …