Prosthetics, A.I., and Art
The development of prosthetics raises interesting questions about dualism. Now, prosthetics are becoming so well developed that people who could not move their arms before can do so now with the surgical insertion of a chip in their brain and extension of a mechanical arm. In a TED talk in 2011, Anthony Atala explained the use of 3D printers to create a transplantable kidney. The 3D printer could use living cells to create organs that functions and looks exactly like a human organ. Physicalism states that everything in human nature can be explained by physical means. In the perspective of the physicalists, prosthetics shows that the physical material of the brain and its actions account for movements of our bodies. Furthermore, identity theory, explains that even mental states could be correlated with physical events in the brain. Hence, a 3D printed organ that allows the firing of C-fiber would lead to the body experiencing pain. Considering Functionalism, mental states, both introspective values or sensory reactions, are explained by causal organization. Then I must ask: if one were to create a human out of all synthetic organs that still carry out the same functions as the human body does, are they the same person? My immediate thought tells me that they are not.
A synthetic human, a robot, could carry out all the basic mental and physical functions to stay alive. With artificial intelligence, robots can learn, detect emotion, perhaps feel “pain.” However, as a visual artist, I question if synthetic humans can ever be able to imitate human creativity. Admittedly, creativity has strong relation to the brain. As many say, if your left brain is more developed, you are more “artistic” than “mathematical.” However, novel ideas and creative thoughts are not originated from firings of different neurons in the brain. True creativity, at least within the realm of visual art, springs from a magical fusion of infinite nodes that constitutes psychological associations, environmental stimuli, and visual sensibility. A robot could be programmed to look at one thing and feel a certain emotion. However, a robot cannot look at a thing and think of a new idea that connects the visual experience with past experience, knowledge, emotions, and many more infinite nodes that connects instantly.