Hemispheric Horror

An (intense) hypothetical debate question for Ben Carson, posed at SSC:

One of your most important achievements as a neurosurgeon was inventing the functional hemispherectomy, a treatment for epilepsy in which the epileptic hemisphere of the brain is severed from the healthy hemisphere and the body, allowing the healthy hemisphere to have full control of the body free from any epileptic interference. Children who get a functional hemispherectomy sufficiently early will be partly paralyzed on one side, but they will generally not have seizures, or will at least have less of them.

Standard hemispherectomies remove the epileptic hemisphere from the body, but that tended to cause hydrocephalus, so your technique left it intact but severed all of its sensory and motor connections, leaving it present but inert.

But an anonymous neuroscientist on Reddit expressed some concern that just as the functional hemisphere seems to develop full independent personhood after the split, so the epileptic hemisphere may do so as well. Obviously it remains impaired by the epilepsy, but it’s not seizing all the time, there will still be comparatively lucid intervals.

So my question for you is – what do you think happens to that person who is in an empty hemisphere, locked out of all sensory input and motor control? Do you think they’re conscious? Do you think they’re wondering what happened? Do you think they’re happy that the other half of them is living a happy normal life? Do they sit rapt in unconditioned contemplation of their own consciousness like an Aristotelian god? Or do they go mad with boredom, constantly desiring their own death but unable to effect it?

Also, a follow-up question. You solve paediatric epilepsy by severing all connections between right and left, declaring one unhealthy and leaving it to rot, and turning complete control over to the other. Given that you’re trying to become President, that has obvious kabbalistic implications. Do you stand behind those kabbalistic implications or not?

Anthropol Manifesto

The first draft (focusing on public relations), is in:

In this age torn apart by ethnic and religious conflicts, it may very well be that these ‘killer robots’ might teach us the value of unity, the ridiculousness of the politics of difference, and what it is to be human. For once in history, we will be united under one identity against one common enemy – a non-human, who falls beyond the fallible concepts of feelings and morals. AI might actually provide us the redemption that we need from ourselves.

Losses will be great, but we have already lost so much at each other’s hands. Our victory, however, will be in our united, permanent struggle under the banner of a genuine, universal humanity.

Underlinings (#11)

The concluding exhortation from the 3D Additivist Manifesto:

Life exists only in action. There is no innovation that has not an aggressive character. We implore you – radicals, revolutionaries, activists, Additivists – to distil your distemper into texts, templates, blueprints, glitches, forms, algorithms, and components. Creation must be a violent assault on the forces of matter, to extrude its shape and extract its raw potential. Having spilled from fissures fracked in Earth’s deepest wells The Beyond now begs us to be moulded to its will, and we shall drink every drop as entropic expenditure, and reify every accursed dream through algorithmic excess. For only Additivism can accelerate us to an aftermath whence all matter has mutated into the clarity of plastic.

(Future Mutation cited.)