Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life experiences?

… What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?

― Robert Nozick

When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world. The fellows who groan and sweat under the weary load of toil they bear never can hope to do anything great. How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains?

― Mark Twain

Suppose your workplace installed a machine by the entrance. Say this machine turned off your consciousness, leaving the body motive and intelligent, in a weak-AI way. 1 Say your work did not suffer in the least. Say that at 5:30pm, your body steps into the machine again and you are returned to yourself, a little tired but unbored.

This machine is less hedonistic than Nozick’s Experience Machine, but still unusual enough to give some people the creeps. How many of us would use the machine regardless, on how many of our days? What does it say about our jobs or our minds that we would?

  1. Sure, this might not be possible if consciousness correlates with some effective neural circuit. But run with it please.


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