Enter the Cortex
What is Dreams In Vitro All About?
Welcome to Dreams In Vitro. This site is the personal weblog of Myles O’Neill. It is updated sporadically on a variety of topics including: philosophy, (mad) science, religion, biology, the future, politics, programming and other academically intriguing subjects. The blog aims to be interesting and provocative of further thought. Information is not dumbed down, nor is it written in overly complex jargon but it is written for the thinking reader. In addition to the blog this site aims to be a nexus for Myles’ life linking to the projects and communities he is involved in.
What do the links on the right go to?
Dreams In Vitro is a themed website and as such a little bit of creativity has gone into the aesthetics and naming of links. The theme of Dreams In Vitro is one of consciousness – a reference to the sites aim of making you think. As a student of programming and biology above all the site sits in the middle of the two, combining computer terminology with neuroscience terminology with just a little bit of mad science thrown in. So links like “Root Access” mean “Home” and “Recent Neural Misfirings” refers to my twitter feed. By following the links you can easily determine the rest.
A Sampling of Dreams
Interested in Dreams In Vitro but don’t know where to start reading? Here is a short list of some of the most popular blog posts made to give you a good starting place:
- Could we and should we become the Zerg? – An essay on genetic engineering, taking inspiration from science fiction.
- Simulation – An essay on the power and significance of simulation and the universe.
- Void – A short story dealing with the mind-body problem.
- The Teleportation Conundrum and The Soul – A detailed look at this important philosophical problem and the implications on our view of ourselves.
What is up with the name?
The name Dreams In Vitro was chosen for a number of reasons and I believe it embodies the central theme and concept of this site well. Dreams are interesting things and the subject of much speculation in both spirituality and science – we still don’t know their purpose in the body and for this reason they are still a great mystery. Furthermore they represent simulation and the significance of a mind which can imagine things – is the dream any less real than the reality itself?
But why Dreams In Vitro? In vitro is latin for “within the glass” and is commonly used to mean the isolated examination of something as opposed to the holistic examination of it. It also strongly connotes that the thing being examined is biological in nature and it is for this reason the phrase is used. So I am claiming that my blogs are dreams – biological dreams which are under isolated examination.
Biological may seem a weird thing to associate with something which is simply words and numbers, something invented in my mind and something which in the end is nothing but a long stream of ones and zeroes. The ancient philosopher Democritus once said:
Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.
This is an important truth and it helps us understand how today the lines between technology and biology are starting to blur. On a molecular level the difference between a synthetically generated bacteria and a small nanorobot is becoming very blurred. I believe this will work its way up the line and we will soon see that really there is no fundamental difference between biotic and abiotic.
And if there is no difference, then what is the difference between a biotic brain and an abiotic computer? Specifically a lot, in function not much. The two are convergent and over time will become more and more similar. The human brain is the seat of our consciousness, our mind and an important product of these – our dreams. So what is the mind of a computer? Does it have one? Will it have one? These are interesting and important questions which I believe sit at a crossroads between philosophy and science.