Posthumans and Extended Experience
School of Art &
University of Plymouth,
of Evolution and Technology -
Vol. 14 - April 2005
This paper offers a
posthumanist account of the relationship between humans and
technology, the nature of human existence and the potential for
extended life. The paper contributes to the life extension debate
currently going on within posthuman studies, but rather than looking
at extending life-span in a temporal sense I propose a
metaphysically extended view of human existence. Arguing against
those who wish to reduce human essence to a flow of symbolic
information (uploading the mind, etc.), I posit the posthuman as a
radically extended and embodied being whose experience is
potentially boundless. To support this position, I outline the case
for an ontological approach I term 'extensionism', which draws on
recent philosophical notions of the 'extended mind' as well as more
ancient Buddhist ideas of 'dependent origination'. Extensionism
stresses the continuities between objects and events rather than the
divisions. I use this approach to argue for the continuity between
humans and technology, in contrast to those who see an inherent
division, or even antagonism, between them. I conclude by offering a
description of technologically-enhanced (post)human experience that
transcends distinctions but is nevertheless grounded in the world.
One of the most
frequently discussed topics in posthumanist and transhumanist
circles is life extension, which normally denotes the indefinite
prolongation of life through chemical, cryogenic or other
technological means.  Rather than proposing extending life-span,
this paper stresses the potential for extending life-experience,
that is, expanding our understanding of what being human is — even
if that implies, as I will argue, that we consequently find
ourselves becoming posthuman.
This paper presents
a plausible argument about the condition of human existence at this
moment in history. But the picture is very complex, as one expects,
and even observers ostensibly arguing from similar positions can
find themselves at odds. While taking a posthuman[ist?] stance, I
resist the widespread tendency amongst advocates of posthumanism
toward ‘disembodiment’ — the proposed distillation of human essence
into some immaterial form. As I hope will become clear, I do not
believe that humans or human experience can be reduced to an essence
— digital or otherwise — free from the contingencies of
corporeality. Furthermore, there are those for whom rapid
technological progress seems to challenge the authority and sanctity
of humankind, threatening to technologically displace all those
qualities and values we hold sacred – creativity, intelligence, free
will and of course, consciousness. There is understandable anxiety
aroused by the prospect of the human as either technologically
dematerialised or technologically displaced – that is, carrying on
in some new form or not carrying on at all.
How then can we
make sense of these complex and competing ideas — the hopes of
liberation and the fears of displacement? Part of the problem, I
suggest, lies in differing understandings of what ‘posthumanism’
means. Put in polarised terms, there is the posthumanism of
disembodiment, which wants liberation from the encumbering
limitations of the physical realm. Then there is the posthumanism of
embodiment, which recognises hitherto concealed continuities
between realms that were once held as distinct and bounded, such as
mind and body, or human and machine. This includes, as we shall see,
the continuity between humans and everything else in the world, with
a consequent loss of the human supremacy implicit in more extreme
tendencies of humanism. 
By advocating a
post-humanism (literally after-humanism) of unbounded
embodiment, which draws on some ancient and fundamental principles
of Buddhism and places them in a contemporary technological context,
I hope this paper goes some way toward establishing a plausible
world view. In our enthusiasm for the liberating potential of
technology, we should not, I claim, neglect the extraordinary
potential for ‘extended life’ offered by grasping existence in its
To what extent are
humans unique or distinct from everything else in the world? There
seem to be two conflicting responses: that we are essentially
distinct from everything else in nature or that we are not
essentially distinct from anything else in nature. To complicate the
picture, arguments from theology and humanism have been used in
favour of the first while evidence from science can favour both.
In the late
nineteenth century there was vigorous public debate about the origin
of humans and particular resistance to the notion that we descended
from apes. This resistance was based in large part on the assumption
of human uniqueness and supremacy, as the anti-Darwinian Bishop
“Soapy Sam” Wilberforce declared:
discussions about the nature of humanity focused more on scientific
arguments than the religious ones. Scientists studying the
complexity of our cultural behaviour, our use of language and
intricate tools, our specific genetic makeup, or our neurological
specialisation tried to account for human uniqueness according to
the generally materialist principles of anthropology, evolution,
genetics or neurobiology. For some philosophers, such scientific
accounts confirmed a well-established presumption about the
exceptional and distinct status of human beings. Asking ‘what is it
to be human?’, Kenan Malik summarises the historical position:
For much of the past 500
years, scientists and philosophers have taken it for granted that
human beings are exceptional creatures, not simply distinct from
other animals but superior to them, because of our possession of
reason and consciousness, language and morality. 
But according to Malik,
rather than sustaining this tradition of ‘exceptionalism’, some
recent developments in evolutionary biology, advances in genetics,
neuroscience and artificial intelligence pose new challenges to
long-standing ideas of human distinctiveness. He fears humans are
increasingly seen by science as just another kind of animal (which
was at the root of many earlier objections to Darwin) or another
kind of machine – that is, as something not essentially separate
from the rest of the world.
… the attempt to
understand humans in the same language as the rest of nature ignores
an essential quality of being human — our subjectivity. Humans are
simply not like other animals, and to assume that we are is
Like many before him,
Malik posits the human as different from all other creatures and so
implies a notional boundary between the human and non-human domains.
However, such appeals to humanist exceptionalism can seem
anachronistic when set against the trajectory of current science and
technology. Rather than confirming the boundary between the human
and non-human domains, the expectations bound up in technologies
like xenotransplantation, artificial consciousness and intelligence,
synthetic replication, biotechnical integration and cloning tend to
erode the distinction between humans and animals, humans and
machines, humans and the environment, or humans and other humans. We
may expect to share organs with pigs, sport prosthetic limbs, find
ourselves digitally extended into the world by a telepresence
system, or confront identical copies of ourselves.
tradition of exceptionalism (if Malik is right) had led humans to
presume they were physically and mentally distinct, bounded by and
from the world around them. For humanists the world is an object to
reflect upon from the insulated vantage point of a unique
subjectivity, not something humans are. Despite humanist
protestations, however, it seems we are entering a new phase of
social development, one that is sometimes called ‘posthuman’, in
which humans are increasingly seen as less distinct from animals,
machines and the environment. These developments make it more
difficult to maintain the notional boundaries that for so long have
held humans apart from the world and each other.
As already noted, the
term ‘posthuman’, along with ‘transhuman’ and ‘post-biological’, has
been employed in a number of different ways. For some commentators,
such as Francis Fukuyama in Our Posthuman Future, the
posthuman is the biotechnologically mutated non-human — a creature
that remains biologically encased but divorced from its natural
biological origin . For others the posthuman is the
technologically encased successor to the soon-to-be-obsolete
biological human — a cyborg-entity inhabiting data-space, enjoying a
computationally generated consciousness unconstrained by the physics
of materiality and the pressures of mortality.
researcher Hans Moravec has been a prominent and influential
advocate of the notion that human consciousness is essentially a
process of abstract symbolic manipulation, one that in the future
could be simulated in a disembodied computational medium. He has
written enthusiastically about the “bodiless mind”  and in a
recent interview made this claim:
Although a highly
attractive scenario for those wishing to mechanically emulate human
beings, this kind of dualism  overlooks some crucial aspects of
human existence. For instance, we are conditioned by physical and
biological constraints without which our experience would have a
very different meaning, or perhaps no meaning at all. To give a few
brief examples: our sense of subjectivity — the knowledge we have of
ourselves as sentient beings — does not seem to be wired into our
brains in the form of some pre-given ‘program’ (at least I know of
no evidence that it is). Rather it develops as we interact
dynamically with the world and other sentient beings who also occupy
mobile bodies, giving rise to what the philosopher Edmund Husserl
called ‘intersubjectivity’.  Likewise, our sense of desire for
others, or the pleasures of satiation, are physically incarnate as
much as they are mentally experienced; they arise from, and gain
their meaning from, the extended corporeal realm of sensory being.
Finally, our sense of the value of life — with its routines and
vicissitudes — is almost wholly underwritten by our sensitivity to
its annihilation (biological death). 
Support for an
embodied interpretation of posthumanism, and recognition of its
historical importance, can be found in recent critical commentaries
in the field. In How We Became Posthuman, N Katherine Hayles
gives an account of the emergence of posthumanism and criticises the
tendency found in some of the relevant literature to regard human
thought of the future as becoming technologically disembodied. She
argues for the importance of “putting embodiment back in the
By grasping this
historical shift we arrive at a different understanding of our human
predicament from that of our humanist forebears, different even from
some of our posthuman colleagues whose concern with extending life
by migrating consciousness from brains to machines, to some degree,
misses the point. When advocating extended life we should recognise
that we are really advocating extended experience (after all,
what would life be without experience?), and an experience based on
the contingencies of embodied existence at that. The real posthuman,
then, is properly conceived not as an abstract flow of symbolic
information but as a radically extended and embodied being whose
experience, I will argue, is potentially boundless.
We live in a age
characterized by various kinds of technical and social extension:
our capacity to gather information about the natural world at
galactic and sub-atomic scales has been extended by devices such as
radio telescopes and particle accelerators; we can communicate over
immense distances with almost no delay, expanding our purview to an
astonishing degree; global trade broadens markets for goods and
services across national boundaries, extending once localized
commodities and cultures across continents to a greater degree than
ever before. These are obvious and uncontroversial examples.
But there are other
cases of technical and social extension that are perhaps less
obvious. Our propensity to externalize mental data by the use of
recording and retrieval devices has led some philosophers to
consider whether the mind extends into the world rather than being,
as is often supposed, confined to the brain. The philosophers David
Chalmers and Andy Clark have proposed the notion of the ‘extended
mind’ to describe how internal mental states ‘in here’, such as
beliefs, extend into external physical conditions ‘out there’. They
argue that if external objects play a role in constructing or
modifying our beliefs, then those objects can reasonably be said to
form part of those beliefs:
another perspective the biologist Rupert Sheldrake has also written
and lectured on the ‘extended mind’, suggesting recent experimental
evidence demonstrates the mind is not restricted to the brain but
extends outwards to the objects we perceive.  Whether or not one
accepts Sheldrake’s claims, or Chalmers and Clark’s argument, they
are part of a pattern of ideas that could be characterised as
‘extended’ ways of thinking, and would include the debates amongst
ethicists about the degree to which human rights can be conferred on
animals as well as contemporary advances in astronomical remote
sensing that stretch our conception of the scale of the universe.
these different kinds of extended thought have a cumulative effect
on our understanding of what it is to be human. Whereas we might
have imagined human beings to be spatially or temporally localised,
increasingly we might think of them as spatiotemporally distributed
in mind and body. The use of communication and recording devices,
for instance, undermines our habitual notion of the individual as
someone who exists in only one specific place at one moment. When
confronting a person on the phone, radio or television, do you
perceive them or an electronic signal that represents them? Are the
person and the signal identical or separate? And where precisely is
a person who is being broadcast? Surely they are, to some extent,
embodied in the broadcast itself. One could reasonably contend that
the person being broadcast and the signals that carry their sound or
image combine to form a distributed whole through which the original
human agent becomes vastly extended across space, and in the case of
recordings, across time.
To take another
case, think about this text you are reading. It only makes sense
because I use language to express my thoughts in material form,
which you can later reconstruct as thoughts in your own mind. In a
strange way, my mind has been extended through the medium of text to
your mind, and so exists beyond my brain. In a sense, the page you
are reading is partly human, partly me, and now partly you — a state
of affairs that would be consistent with the externalist approach
argued by Chalmers and Clark above.
For the sake of
convenience, I have borrowed the term ‘extensionism’  to
describe this tendency toward extendedness in contemporary thinking.
In brief, extensionism looks at objects and events in terms of how
they extend from one to the other rather than how they are to be
distinguished from one another. In fact, elsewhere I have argued
that there are no essential distinctions between any objects or
events in the world at all, other than the distinctions generated by
human cognition.  As a consequence, the argument goes, objects
and events do not really have boundaries or edges (except the ones
we impose upon them) and therefore, being without edges, extend
I can illustrate
the extensionist approach with a brief example. Think of a coin.
Even though it appears as a discreet object, with clearly demarcated
edges, there are a number of dimensions of its existence that extend
beyond its apparent boundaries. The value of the coin, for example,
is not intrinsic to its material makeup but gained from its currency
within a wider financial system; the emblems and symbols it carries
refer to, and draw their significance from, an extensive cultural
milieu; the fundamental particles composing the metal from which it
is struck were formed in the crucible of the cosmos, with a history
dating back to the beginning of, and with a future as extensive as
that of, the universe.
These few examples
testify to the wealth of associations, purposes, connections,
histories and potential ramifications of each and every object,
which we largely choose to ignore for the sake of convenience,
restrictions of time, or simply because they lie beyond our
perception or conception. Yet despite our ignorance of such extended
dimensions, all objects possess them, and to a degree so numerous as
to be effectively infinite.
There is a strong
resonance between the view just outlined and a founding principle of
Buddhist thought known as ‘dependent origination’. Put simply, the
principle states that no object comes into being or exists in
isolation. Each object depends on an indefinite series of other
objects to give it form and identity. The Dictionary of Buddhist
Terms and Concepts describes it succinctly:
. . . all beings and
phenomena exist or occur only because of their relationship with
other beings or phenomena. Therefore, nothing can exist in absolute
independence of other things or arise of its own accord. 
This insight, at once
simple and profound, demands an extraordinary gear change in our
habitual understanding of the world. Here it informs a mode of
analysis, termed extensionism, which insists on the subjective
contingency of multiplicity. In other words, that the appearance of
a universe made of many things is a construct of the human mind
. It is this appearance of multiple distinctions between
putatively isolated objects that leads us to habitually discount the
dependent attributes that constitute the object’s extended
One could summarize
the extensionist approach, as outlined here, in the following way:
It is not the purpose of
this paper to consider the ramifications of this statement in
detail. This would require another kind of article altogether.
Instead I wish to briefly consider how an extensionist perspective
might inform a conception of human and posthuman existence.
In common respects,
human beings are regarded as specific conglomerations of biological
tissue or as particular expressions of a genetic sequence. For most
social purposes the physical extent of a human coincides with the
boundary of the outer skin. But definitions of humans that rely on a
skin-level demarcation, or genetic sequences, tend to discount many
other ‘extended’ dimensions of human existence that not only compose
the active lives of individual people but also the overall
phenomenon of humanity. If we can accept, as suggested above, that
the repercussions of all objects extend indefinitely through space
and time (whether we acknowledge them or not), then the apparent
boundaries that delimit each individual human are in fact
provisional, since we too extend indefinitely through space and
To give some
examples: just as with the coin, our physical structure is composed
from fundamental particles as old as the universe, particles that
were once immeasurably dispersed across space and will be again when
our bodies decompose; our genetic code can be traced back to the
origins of life on Earth, will be perpetuated indefinitely in some
mutated form (barring an unforeseen cataclysm) and is distributed
across all members of the species ; the stored contents of our
minds (ideas, images, words, etc.) are largely composed of stimuli
drawn from widely-distributed sources in the environment and can be
re-distributed through written or oral communication, as mentioned
The upshot is that
individual humans in the sense of isolated, separate objects do not
really exist, other than in our imaginations. What exists instead
are non-contained beings who, in numerous ways, are distributed far
beyond their local space and time, caught in an infinite chain of
events without beginning or end. Each act I make, whether trivial or
expansive, has further consequences that will ripple through
infinity, just as each act is the extension of an indeterminate
number of prior events.
When viewed from the extensionist perspective proposed here, humanity as a whole is
constituted by the totality of all the repercussions of individual
human existences.. The result is that our conception of human beings
must include our wider cultural environment as well as our physical
structure, and in particular our technological environment, not just
as an external adjunct to the human condition but as an inherent
part of what constitutes us in the first place. To put it
Humanists might regard
humans as distinct beings, in an antagonistic relationship with
their surroundings. Posthumanists, on the other hand, regard humans
as embodied in an extended technological world.
Humans, posthumans and
By including the
extended technological world in our conception of what constitutes a
human being, we further revise the traditional humanist view that
holds we are individuated from one another and separated from the
(technological) world. Posthumanists find themselves extended by and
embodied in the very machines they once regarded as distinct. Put
concisely, technology is embodied humanity.
Yet despite this
unity, there are many futurologists, science fiction writers and
movie-makers still attached to the idea of technology as an alien
predator, a potential impostor with which we are destined to come
into conflict. The premise that machines might usurp human
uniqueness, or turn on their creators and take over the world has
been hashed out in countless plays, books and motion pictures. 
Even sophisticated writers on technology sometimes assume that the
devices surrounding us are somehow ‘other’ than human, almost a
self-sufficient living realm with their own laws of evolution and
logic of existence.  At its worst this conviction leads to
‘technological antagonism’, the belief not only that technology
causes change but that it threatens human uniqueness, even survival
— a view that fails to take account of who creates the technology in
the first place.
technology seem particularly pronounced when a threat to the mystery
and uniqueness of human creativity is perceived. Talking a year
before being beaten at chess by Big Blue, IBM’s RS/6000 SP-based
computer, Gary Kasparov warned:
To some extent, this match is a defense of the whole human race.
Computers play such a huge role in society. They are everywhere. But
there is a frontier they cannot cross. They must not cross into the
area of human creativity. It would threaten the existence of human
control in such areas as art, literature, and music. 
A prima facie case of
such a threat is the work of David Cope, a musician and computer
programmer who, over some twenty years, has developed a system
called Emmy (Experiments in Musical Intelligence) which creates
original music in the style of certain historical composers. This is
achieved by sampling a range of their works and identifying within
them patterns or ‘fingerprints’ that are unique to that composer’s
style. These patterns are then ‘recombined’ to produce new musical
pieces bearing the personality of the composer who was sampled. The
efficacy of his system is demonstrated by an experiment in which one
is asked to listen ‘blind’, as it were, to four short tracks of
piano music, at least one of which is composed by a human and at
least one by Emmy. This is something akin to a musical Turing test
 in which the aim is to distinguish the human composition from
the mechanical one. Very few people are able to do so. 
In Virtual Music,
a volume of essays on Cope’s work, several writers, including the
eminent theorist Douglas Hofstadter, author of a seminal work on
artificial intelligence, Gödel, Escher, Bach , express
deep anxieties about the implications of Cope’s work for the mystery
and uniqueness of human creativity. At one point, talking of the
pattern-based composition technique used by Cope, he says, “. . .
the day when music is finally and irrevocably reduced to syntactic
pattern and pattern alone will be, to my old fashioned way of
looking at things, a very dark day indeed.” 
However, in the
same book the music theorist Eleanor Selfridge-Field reminds us
that, despite those who think of Emmy as an autonomous agent
threatening human uniqueness, the whole enterprise is manifestly
‘human-dependent’. She writes:
To consider that what Experiments in Musical Intelligence does is an
entirely automatic process is to miss the fact of this [human]
dependency. The program’s functional context remains bounded by
human values. 
One could expand upon
her point by arguing that in order for this seemingly autonomous
process to occur it requires the integration of at least three dense
accretions of human skill and intelligence, including:
a. the musical
sensibility of the composer encoded in the work that was originally
b. the quantity of
painstakingly constructed computer code embodied in Emmy (consisting
of some 20,000 lines of Lisp written over 18 years), and
c. the accumulated human
endeavour bound up in the Macintosh computer system through which
the data processing is conducted.
It is only by combining
these and many other materialised accretions of human ingenuity that
the musical experience can be generated.
Once machines are
regarded as the distributed embodiment of human intelligence and
skill, and not as an autonomous or alien force, many of the
philosophical dilemmas associated with technological antagonism are
dispelled. For the music written by Emmy is no more composed by
machine than it is by a human, insofar as the machine is humanity in
extended form. I have the sense that Cope would agree — to an
extent. Speaking of Bruce Mazlish’s critique of the ‘fourth
discontinuity’ between humans and machines , Cope writes,
“Machines do not represent another discontinuity. Computers and
computer programs like Experiments in Musical Intelligence represent
extensions of the human intellect, tools that allow us to
achieve yet greater accomplishments.” 
nature of experience
Things in the
world, as has been proposed, are inherently continuous with one
another, not just because they lack precise boundaries by dint of
their infinitely extended dimensions but also because they only come
into existence, as far as we are concerned, when they impinge upon
our awareness. And, insofar as any number of seemingly discrete
objects impinge upon our awareness, they form a unity of presence
within the mind, a unity of presence that nevertheless contains a
diversity of objects. The peculiar character of daily experience,
therefore, could be said to arise from the state of simultaneous
contradiction whereby we perceive both unity and diversity at once.
Although it seems implausible by orthodox logical standards, our
habitual experience forms a perceptual whole that is also
fragmentary, just as the world appears fragmentary whilst in fact
being a whole. But while we are implicitly aware of the whole with
the potential for expansive existence it offers, we remain
circumscribed by the conceptual boundaries each perceptual fragment
I would contend
that by its very nature this experience is neither primarily mental
nor exclusively physical, as neither are the objects in the world of
which we are aware. The contradictory nature of experience
transcends such distinctions to become the mark of human life; not
life as mere biological or material process, but as the veridical
sensation of presence felt in oneself and the world.
I have argued that we
are entering a period in which we are coming to recognise the
continuities not just between humans and machines but between all
things that might previously have been held as bounded and separate.
At the same time we must recognise the contradiction that it is only
by first perceiving such boundaries that we can then transcend them.
In doing so we are becoming increasingly posthuman – but not in the
disembodied sense sometimes implied by the term. Instead we are
physically grounded but conceptually extended, driven by material
necessity but notionally transcendent. The historical epoch in which
the human appeared to stand as a figure with a unique and permanent
essence in an antagonistic relationship with the technological
environment is closing. And although we are looking forward, we do
so in a way that resonates with some ancient philosophical
traditions. Buddhist thinkers have long spoken of the ‘non-self’ or
anatta whereby the apparent distinctions giving rise to a
sense of unique, distinct self are abrogated:
To recognise the lack of
permanent entities, such as human selves, is to disavow what others
regard as the unique human essence. To recognise the continuities
between domains previously held only as distinct, or even as
antagonistic, is to recognise their interdependence and ultimately
their unity, as the principle of dependent origination holds.
The disavowal of
the unique and distinct human proposed here need not lead to the
abstracted, dislocated existence touted by some posthumanists, but
to a human implicated in a wider corporeal-technological realm. It
will be a being that, if it ceases to be human at all, will not be
abandoned as a redundant shell, but implicated so widely in its
extended eco-technological environment that it can no longer be
demarcated. After all, the machines are really human, and through
our mechanically embodied existence we may yet find salvation from
the limits of bounded experience and the means to a fully extended
 For example, see the
Immortality Institute at
 Humanism here refers
to the belief “in human effort and ingenuity rather than religion”
(Collins English Dictionary) with its tendency towards
anthropocentrism — the view that Man is the central and most
important entity in the universe.
 Wilberforce, 1874.
In Oxford, England, in 1860 Bishop Wilberforce famously engaged
Thomas Huxley in debate about the implications of Darwin’s
evolutionary thesis on the origins of Mankind. It has since become a
legendary encounter in the history of science, in part because the
pro-Darwinian Huxley was reputed to have humiliated Wilberforce.
 For an account of
the implications of Darwin’s ideas, and Huxley’s response to them,
in the context of a discussion of the uniqueness of humans in
relation to machines see Mazlish 1993.
 Wallace, 1870.
 Malik, 2001.
 Fukuyama, 2002.
 Moravec, 1995.
 in Brown, 2002.
 Dualism: the
philosophical view that mental and physical realms are distinct. In
this case it refers to the supposition that the mental realm is
abstract/symbolic in a way that is independent of the physical
 In his excellent
introduction to Husserl’s later thought, Dan Zahavi writes of
Husserl’s analysis of the body in which he claims that: “. . . the
experience of another as incarnated subject is the first step toward
the constitution of an objective (intersubjectively valid) shared
world.” (Zahavi, 2003).
 The full arguments
for an embodied view of cognition are far too complex to rehearse
here, and readers are encouraged to refer to eminent proponents such
as Varela et al. (1991), Damasio (1994), Lakoff and Johnson (1999),
to cite a few. However, it is worth mentioning a couple of further
points in favour of the case. Evidence from psychology suggests that
phenomenal consciousness (the bit we know about) may be but a small
fraction of the total volume of cognitive activity in the subject.
The work of Libet et al. (1983) suggests our awareness of our own
will may lag someway (1/5 second or so) behind the decision made by
our bodies to take an action. This result poses severe problems for
proponents of disembodiment, since it is not clear how one could
separate the phenomenal part of consciousness from the unconscious
parts on which it supervenes in order to upload it, many of which
may be deeply integrated into the body. And a final point: even if
we were to follow those advocating disembodiment in accepting a
silicon-based consciousness, we would be able to point out that it
is still embodied, but in silicon rather than flesh!
 Hayles, 1999. See
also Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism (Weinstone
2004) in which the argument is made for a spiritual posthumanism
constituted by relations between boundless living bodies.
 Chalmers & Clark,
 Sheldrake, 2003.
 A term more usually
associated with the ethical debate about extending human rights to
 See, for example,
Pepperell, 2003. It should be said that this is a philosophical
position held by many, not least by Friedrich Nietzsche (1984) who
writes in Aphorism 19 of Human, All Too Human, “The
assumption of multiplicity always presumes that there is something,
which occurs repeatedly. But this is just where error rules; even
here, we invent entities, unities, that do not exist.”
 Matsuda, 1983.
 This is a situation
verging on paradox: One could say there are no distinct things in
the world, since distinctions exist only within human minds. In this
way human minds are distinct and, since they exist in the world,
distinct things do exist in the world, as do the distinctions that
reside in the minds, one of which is the distinction between mind
and the world.
 In fact although
there are minute variations between one individual’s genetic
sequence and another’s, enough to give a probabilistic forensic
identification, the similarities far outweigh the differences. If
human beings are expressions of genes, as evolutionary biologists
and neo-Darwinists are fond of saying, then the individual
variations are negligible compared to the total homogeneity of the
‘pool’ from which the individual emerges. In this extended sense,
the genetic characteristics of the human are not bound in one
individual but distributed; they act in concert through all the
individuals that share (nearly) identical genes.
 One could also cite
in this regard the ‘quantum non-locality effect’ whereby certain
individual particles making up matter are known to have ‘pairs’ or
‘twins’ that mirror immediately the behaviour of their other part,
regardless of distance. Matter composed of such particles cannot,
therefore, be said to have singularly localized spatial
co-ordinates. For an accessible exposition see Peat (1990).
 There are numerous
examples in recent mainstream cinema, including 2001: A Space
Odyssey (Kubrick 1969), The Terminator (Cameron 1984),
and The Matrix (Wachowski 1999).
 As an illustration,
in his book about contemporary music and technology, Strange
Sounds, Timothy Taylor (2001) criticises technological
determinism as “pernicious” (p. 26). Yet in summing up he cites the
DJ’s use of the turntable as an example of where “human agency
struck back” against technology’s deterministic effects on “peoples’
behaviour with respect to music” (p. 204). Such slips merely
reinforce the notion of technology as some malign force emanating
from an external domain — precisely the delusion Taylor elsewhere
strives to debunk.
 Kasparov 1996
(Quoted in Cope 2001).
 The ‘Turing test’
is the general name for the “imitation game”, the test of machine
intelligence proposed by the mathematician Alan Turing in 1950
 I have tried this
myself and was surprised to discover, along with many musical
experts, that there was no obvious mark or feature by which Cope’s
compositions could be easily differentiated from others. In fact,
my guesses were at least consistent: I incorrectly attributed all
the non-Emmy generated pieces to Emmy and vice versa.
 Hofstadter, 1981.
 Cope, 2001.
 ibid. (My insertion
in box brackets).
 Mazlish, 1993.
 Cope, 2001 (My
 Humphreys, 1985.
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Robert Pepperell is a
writer, artist, and Associate Editor of Leonardo Reviews for the
journal of the International Society for the Arts, Science and
Technology. He has spoken and published on the topics of
consciousness, technology, art and philosophy, including The
Posthuman Condition (1995 and 2003), in addition to exhibiting
in national galleries and museums.