A Neural Copy?

Kenneth Coane '10, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

In the show Max Headroom, Edison Carter a reporter from the fictional futuriistic news network 23, has an accident, and in order to retrieve information from him, the ace computer user, Bryce, makes a copy of Edison's neural pathways since he was unconscious. This process resulted in making a digital copy of Edison's ghost or personality. While this resulting copy of Edison, which names itself "Max" is far from being a perfect copy, as it is rather skittish, and at times very childish, it still is a copy of Edison's personality. It is unclear whether to call this copy an AI, or artificial intelligence since the process used to create him was more or less taking a copy of Edison's brain and letting it exist as computer data on the network's computers. In this sense, it is an artifical copy, but the original was decidedly biological. Does this make Max a cyborg in this sense? A ghost without a definitive shell except for the computers in which he is residing in at the time?

Discussion Questions:

Bryce compares the human brain to a computer when he encodes Carter's brain as a computer file. While this is alluded to in other stories, like Ghost in the Shell, or in Gibson's works, would this make the spirit or ghost of that brain a form of software?

If copying of people were possible, would this allow for them to exist indefinetly?

Is the existance of Max, any different than an AI's existance?

If a copy from the brain is possible, should a copy back into the brain be possible? If it were, would this allow for excursions from the body to occur, where eventually the ghost is copied back to the original brain, or merged with, perhaps for learning or entertainment purposes?


The Max Headroom TV series (copyrighted Warner Bros.)

Cyborg OV Max Headroom

Last modified 30 December 2006