Friday, 14 July 2017

Telepathy Versus Philosophy of Mind

Mary Lou Jepsen, a former Google employee, has founded a startup called OpenWater which aims to develop technology for enabling people to communicate with other individuals and even computers through the medium of thoughts. (Here and Here)

But the idea of mind-to-mind communication, or telepathy, is a violation of the law of causality which says that only material entities can have interactions with other material entities.

It is not clear what is Jepsen’s understanding of the mind. In the articles that I have read, there is no information about her view of mind-body relationship or the method by which she believes the mind can communicate its thoughts to computers and other individuals. She says that her startup needs to file for patents before it can provide any proof of feasibility.

According to Jepsen, telepathy technology will make it possible for human beings to download their thoughts, dreams and inspirations, and send the digital version to the printer.

If telepathy becomes a reality, our understanding of the mind will be revolutionized—the entire philosophy of mind will have to be rewritten. If it is conclusively proved that a non-material mind can directly communicate with material entities then that will certainly grant a new lease on life to traditional theories like  Cartesian dualism. Our understanding of the human society and basically the entire universe will undergo a sea change.

Jepsen claims that OpenWater will develop technology for telepathy in less than eight years. If she is right then we can rest assured that an authoritarian dystopia is only eight years away.

Also, OpenWater is not the only company pursuing the odd idea of telepathy—Elon Musk's Neuralink is also in the fray. Musk claims that within eight to 10 years healthy people could be getting brain implants as new computer interfaces. My own assumption is that now it is a race between Jespen's OpenWater and Musk's Neuralink—who gets bankrupt first!

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