Philosophy of Mind

99% of the human body is composed of just six elements. We are all 65% oxygen, 18% carbon (the basic component of all organic molecules), 10% hydrogen, 3% nitrogen, 1.5% calcium and 1% phosphorus (the other 1% is primarily composed of potassium, sulfur, sodium, and magnesium). On the open market the appropriate quantities of these elements to construct a person would sell for less than $10. What else goes into making a human? Information. There are between 20 and 25 thousand genes in human DNA, which carries the biological instructions that make each species and each individual unique. But DNA is simply made of chemical building blocks called nucleotides and during cell division DNA is copied and the copies are transferred to new cells. Just as the body can be explained in terms of its physical composition so too can the “mental” be explained in terms of the physical composition of the brain, which is constructed out of 86 billion specialized cells called neurons. Neurons transmit nerve signals to and from the brain at 200mph. While no one neuron is conscious, the system as a whole certainly is. In this sense, we are all simply a complex organization of matter that is capable of processing information. While brain neurons cannot be purchased on the open market, computer processors capable of carrying out 33,000 trillion calculations per second (a much higher rate than brain neurons) can be purchased. Given such speed it would not take anywhere near 100 billion such processors working together to surpass the computing powers of the human brain. Would a sufficiently complex but artificially arranged configuration of such elements and processors be conscious? What does your answer have to say about philosophy of mind? 2. Global warming has rendered the continuation of life on Earth impossible. Luckily, we have been able to melt the polar ice caps on Mars which has created the atmospheric conditions necessary to sustain human life. You have no choice but to make the 36 million mile journey to Mars. However, you can choose your method of transport. One method is teletransportation. You will step into a scanner here on earth which will destroy your brain and body, while recording the exact states of all your cells. This information will then be transmitted to a replicator on Mars. Travelling at the speed of light, the message will take three minutes to reach its destination. The replicator will create, out of new matter, a brain and body exactly like yours. The person on Mars will look like you, think like you, in fact be indistinguishable from you. He or she will feel as though they have merely fallen asleep on Earth and then woken up on Mars. This method is 100 percent reliable. The other choice is to go by spaceship. This is very risky and there is a 50 percent chance that the ship will not complete the journey and you will die in transit. But if you do successfully take the spaceship, then your body and brain won’t at any stage have been destroyed. You must make the choice which you think will give you the best chance of surviving. What does your choice say about your philosophy of mind? Before answering, consider this interesting fact from Steve Grand: Not a single atom in your body today was there when you were born

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