Artificial Brains and Hybrid Minds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The paper develops two related thought experiments exploring variations on an ‘animat’ theme. Animats are hybrid devices with both artificial and biological components. Traditionally, ‘components’ have been construed in concrete terms, as physical parts or constituent material structures. Many fascinating issues arise within this context of hybrid physical organization. However, within the context of functional/computational theories of mentality, demarcations based purely on material structure are unduly narrow. It is abstract functional structure which does the key work in characterizing the respective ‘components’ of thinking systems, while the ‘stuff’ of material implementation is of secondary importance. Thus the paper extends the received animat paradigm, and investigates some intriguing consequences of expanding the conception of bio-machine hybrids to include abstract functional and semantic structure. In particular, the thought experiments consider cases of mind-machine merger where there is no physical BrainMachine Interface: indeed, the material human body and brain have been removed from the picture altogether. The first experiment illustrates some intrinsic theoretical difficulties in attempting to replicate the human mind in an alternative material medium, while the second reveals some deep conceptual problems in attempting to create a form of truly Artificial General Intelligence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-96448-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-96447-8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Event3rd Conference on Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence - Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Nov 20175 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics
ISSN (Print)2192-6255
ISSN (Electronic)2192-6255


Conference3rd Conference on Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence
Abbreviated titlePT-AI 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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