Inside Rensselaer
* Andy Clark
Andy Clark
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Lecture To Examine Lines Between Man and Machine

Andy Clark, professor of logic and metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh, will discuss “Natural-Born Cyborgs? Reflections on Bodies, Minds, and Human Enhancement” for the 2011 Vollmer Fries Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Clark will discuss implications as we enter “an age of widespread human enhancement.”

“The technologies range from wearable, implantable, and pervasive computing, to new forms of onboard sensing, thought-controlled equipment, prosthetic legs able to win track races, and on to the humble but transformative iPhone,” Clark said. “But what really matters is the way we are, as a result of this tidal wave of self re-engineering opportunity, just starting to know ourselves: not as firmly bounded biological organisms but as delightfully reconfigurable nodes in a flux of information, communication, and action. This gives us a new opportunity to look at ourselves, and to ask the fundamental question: where does the mind stop, and the rest of the world begin?”

Clark has written extensively on the blurred line between man and machine in his books, which include Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension, published in 2008, Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence, published in 2003, and Mindware, published in 2001.

His research interests include robotics and artificial life, the cognitive role of human-built structures, specialization and interactive dynamics in neural systems, and the interplay between language, thought, socio-technological scaffolding, and action. He is currently working on predictive coding models of neural function.

Prior to joining the faculty at Edinburgh University in Scotland, Clark was professor of philosophy and director of the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University. Previous posts include professor of philosophy and cognitive science at the University of Sussex, U.K., and professor of philosophy and director of the Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis.

The presentation, which will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Auditorium, is open to students, faculty, staff, and the community. The Vollmer Fries Lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. The Vollmer Fries Lecture Series was established by Fries, who graduated from Rensselaer in 1924 with a degree in electrical engineering. He led several manufacturing companies and served as deputy chief of the War Production Board during World War II. In 1950, Fries became a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 1, January 21, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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