“Neuro-bashing” as successor to the “vegan bashings”

Thomas Metzinger over the brain research and the will-free debate. Part 1

With his book of ego tunnel, the philosopher Thomas Metzinger has drawn a debate on the transferability of results from neuro science into philosophy and to the autonomy of the will. To the extended new edition of the book, Telepolis talked to the author.

Mr. Metzinger, which revealing findings has made brain research in the public – and how they are fertile for everyday life and other sciences?

Thomas Metzinger: Since they had to ask a brain researcher as a philosopher. Real revolutions are rather rare in science, because the strong of the scientific method is just that they progress incrementally (in many small steps). Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis are now understood, for example, the underlying mechanisms much better, but depression and schizophrenia are examples of the fact that knowledge progress does not always reflect directly in new, functioning therapies. On the other hand, there is an interesting part aspect of the current development: neurotechnology arises from neuroscience, and a small subset of these neurotechnologies will also be consciousness technologies. I head in Mainz the research center Neuroethik, as I made clear in the expanded new edition of my book, we basically even need something like one "Consciousness": In the future, there will be technologies that always access more direct, pracisers and even more selective on the neural correlate of subjective experience itself. But what is one "goods" State of consciousness? In it we have to understand ourselves socially. We do not come around an ethical basic discussion. Important objectives are suffering, self-knowledge, sustainability and the increase of mental autonomy. You can concretize that a little?

Thomas Metzinger: Take like research on the virtual embodiment and robotic re-embodiment :: verreproject.EU as an example. If the basic idea of self-model theory is correct, then there is a whole series of empirical predictions that have to be experimentally confirmed. One of these predictions is that it must be in principle possible, the conscious self-model in the human brain direct to connect with external systems – for example with computers, robots or with artificial corporation images on the Internet or in virtual realities. This prediction has recently been confirmed. In the latest time there are namely gross progress in the field of so-called brain computer interfaces (so-called bcis; in German one says "Brain Computer Interface", sometimes too "Brain-machine interface" or "Calculator brain interface"), and these progress makes it possible to examine the empirical aspects of the self-model theory from philosophy more precisely.

"PSM actions": Direct action with the conscious self-model by Robotic Re-embodiment: The aim of this pilot study was to be a test person in Israel "Direct thought control" About the Internet to verify a robot in France: a subject is in a core spin resonance tomograph at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. With the help of a data goggle she sees an avatar, which is also in the scanner. The goal is to create the illusion that she is torched in this avatar. The motion performances of the subject are then translated into commands that put the avatar in motion. After a training phase, the subjects were able to reach the Internet a distant robot in France "directly with your mind" to control, where you could see the environment in France through the camera’s eyes of the robot. Illustration with friendly permission of Doron Friedman. The special feature of such brain computer interfaces: without activating the peripheral nervous system, the body or any limb, a connection between the brain and a computer can be established. In this way, new ways arise to act in the world. For example, it can be framed "with thought" Control Arms Taxes or Perform Mal Programs, healthy have already sent out directly from your own brain Twitter messages or even spells in groups together words. For this purpose, either the electrical activity is recorded today (for example by means of EEG or by implanted electrodes) or certain properties of blood flow in the brain are measured (for example, functional magnetic resonance tomography or near-infrared spectroscopy). The data is then analyzed with the help of computers and the found patterns are converted into control signals. This technical development is philosophically interesting from a number of grounds, because it not only allows it to be very largely "past the organic body" to act in the world, but also allows theories to test the origin of the ego garment, the prareflexive self-confidence, more precisely than ever. Many of these developments are historically new. The pilot study shown above our VERE project is a good example of what I have one "Consciousness technology" call. She is already very targeted by the functional basics of our self-confidence, the body self-firing, in the view. What do you think where this technical development will be in 2050? And what role should play academic philosophy in this situation?

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