Future Thinkers Podcast with Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova. Individuality, Consciousness, The Borg, Body Hacking, Singularity.

FTP006: What Makes You YOU? Individuality, Consciousness and The Borg

I’ve been thinking about the concept of individuality a lot lately. What makes you YOU? Is it your personal preferences? The things you own? The things you do? The things you create? Your consciousness or soul?

Many people today would say that you are the things you like: what clothes you wear, which car you drive, what type of coffee you drink, which bands you listen to. But when you really think about it, all those things are just the stuff you buy. Companies just encourage us to “express ourselves” through our purchase decisions, so we get emotionally attached to their products and buy more stuff.

When you take away all your possessions and personal preferences, what’s left? It’s the things you do in life, and your ideas. But even those things are fluid; they change over time as we become more mature and have different experiences. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. I don’t do the same things or have the same ideas.

So if it isn’t your actions or ideas that make you you, could it be your consciousness? Energy concentrated into a cluster of atoms that make up your brain and produce an experience, which we perceive as consciousness?

Or could it be that none of us are really all that unique, and we just think we are because our own experience is the only one we have access to?

These are some of the questions Mike and I discuss.

In this episode of the Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • What is individuality, and what factors define it?
  • Consumerist individuality vs. individuality of ideas
  • Privacy in the internet age and beyond
  • Individuality after the technological singularity
  • Body hacking and the quantified self
  • How networks become conscious
  • Why we started a futurist podcast, not a business podcast

Mentions & Resources:

Question of the day:

What do you think makes you YOU? Do you think individuality will matter in the future? Answer in the comments below!

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2 Comments

    • June 13, 2014
    • Reply

    Hi there Mike and Euvie, got to your podcast while researching for the Fermi paradox (#3 in your series). I love your thinking on AI and your perspective on near future technologies. However, I would like also to weigh in the aspect of culture. Why are the so many UFO sightings since the nineteen fifties? Because a war (WWII) made us looking at the skies. Those kind of things. Let alone these ‘aliens’ had a tendency to encounter with drunken truck drivers or sailors or otherwise funny or silly people. Never a scientist ;-)
    Anyway, the enhancements you are talking about that humanity will apply as AI will kick off to accelerate technology and science will somehow ‘bump’ into biological barriers and cultural ones too. Biology: as we reproduce the way biological species do, once AI will be the new standard, will biological reproduction with a certain level of randomness (creating new biological beings that are to a certain extent ‘copies’ of their parents but still different enough to gradually evolve and enhance by a certain way of natural selection, some randomness and adaptation) be replaced by copying and merging into just one ‘personality’ or being a logical advancement or is this advancement too much culturally coloured to be true? Anyway, just some thoughts. Maybe you could consider the cultural perspective as a viewpoint colouring our ideas of the future. Everytime a generation is asked how society and technology will enhance in a century we are basically extrapolating our current cultural perspective into the future. And because culture evolves too, our predictions neglecting this will mostly be wrong as we come to think of current culture as an end-state of evolution. It’s never an end-state but just a snapshot of evolution up to the point of current perspective. Anyway; keep up the good work!! Love to listen in to new episodes!!!

      • July 15, 2014
      • Reply

      Great point! I wonder about that too. I’ve changed as a person in the few decades I’ve been alive; the societies I have interacted with have changed a lot too. We’re in a perpetual state of flux. I don’t think of AI as an end-game of evolution, but just as the next step. An AI can “evolve” and rearrange itself faster than genes can through biological evolution, so in that sense it is more adaptive.

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