Monday, April 19, 2010

Life is an amazing experience!

On Friday I became the proud owner of a MacBook! Recently, in an episode of House, the patient (”the patient”) was a blogger, and kept reaching for her MacBook. I think it was a picture which I enjoyed, and now that I have my very own MacBook, perhaps I can get back into blogging.

Of course inspiration helps, and there is something about Europe (ahem, even Norway apparently :-) which seems to work in that respect, but to achieve everything which I would like to, I am going to have to be profoundly self-disciplined, which at the age of 37 will be no joke!

But to today’s comment. I love Star Trek. Not that I am a major "trekkie", in the sense that I do not know all sorts of arbitrary information about all the planets and humanoid species! But on an episode to episode basis, how things are treated raise wonderful questions about human life and consciousness. I have not read much fantasy or science fiction, but what I have read I have enjoyed for the most part, especially the latter (until this moment I hadn’t really separated the two in my mind, but after being at the library yesterday I have suddenly realised that there is a distinction, and I may be a greater fan of science fiction than of fantasy, but I digress).

I have just watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on television. In it, an old, dying scientist manages to "cheat" death by inserting his consciousness into that of Data, an android. In the episode which I caught last week, Professor Moriarty (of Sherlock Holmes fame) was created by the computer when the charceter Geordi asked the computer to create an adversary in the holosuite which was capable of defeating Data, thereby requiring a programme with a consciousness, capable of learning. (I may have to learn more about the Star Trek technology and terminology if I am going to make a habit of writing about this).

These two episodes raise interesting questions about consciousness and intellect. The 24th century (??) Professor Moriarty, quite a formidable bad-guy you may imagine, who connects to and learns from the computer, nevertheless agrees to be ”saved” and be switched off (after putting in place an override which prevented the holosuite programme from being shut down). A somewhat tame ending (bearing in mind that the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie is fresh in my mind) to such a character. Does this mean that the Professor Moriarty-”consciousness” is now lurking around the computer of the Starship Enterprise! Furthermore, Ira Graves, the brilliant scientist who inserts his intellect into Data, after realising that while he did not respect the rights of Data as an android, did not want to harm humans, then puts his intellect into the ship’s computer, and without Data’s consciousness, is no longer a danger. So yes, both of these intellects, with or without consciousness are now part of the computer of the Starship Enterprise. Hmmm, why does it not all add up somehow? Or perhaps it was only his intelligence, not his intellect, what is the difference between the two anyway? And consciousness, where does that fit in? From both of the above episodes I would think that it might be in the ability of both Professor Moriarty, and Ira Graves to make the decision to give in. Ah, rational man to the end.

Ironic, as while I write there is an episode of ”Nuremburg” on National Geographic, with film footage of the disposal (there is no other way of putting it) of bodies at Buchenwald.

Indeed, rationale man. Science fiction is a product of humanism, that humankind is essentially rationale and well, good. Though, to be fair. the darker side can be present in some cases.

Hmm, this will require further consideration.

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