AI? Brain intelligence? What else comes to hand?

What if survival depends upon more than intelligence as manifested in what neuroscience identifies as the human brain? Or to turn it around somewhat, to what extent may intelligence alone be insufficient to guarantee survival? It might be helpful in our continuing deliberations on the evolving balance between human and Artificial Intelligence that we ask if the parameters of the former “artificially” narrow the terms of reference by equating our intelligence with what goes on within, and only within, the human skull?

We will leave for another time deliberations on extended cognition, considerations of the brain-in-the-world, and the impact on our thinking of the working of our gut.

It is the role of the hand in the evolution of human intelligence that might possibly inspire greater deliberation than it does, and not just because the gap between human and chimpanzee hand functioning is greater than that between human and chimpanzee brains. (For the doubters, and especially those who fancy the curious notion that a monkey, given enough time on a typewriter, might tap out Hamlet: consider how long we will wait for it to play us some Rachmaninov.)

Going back at least as far as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and coming up to today and the work of such philosophers as Colin McGinn and Raymond Tallis, there has been a great deal – though arguably not enough – fascinating speculation on hands and the role they have had in shaping our role as thinking moral agents.

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