See also: telepresence

Dennett’s 1981 “where am I” story

Secret experiment, Dennett’s brain is removed, kept alive in a tank of nutrients, and equipped with a multitude of radio links by means of which it executes all of its normal bodily control functions (very related to Brains in a Vat example)

Dennett’s body is then equipped with receivers and transmitters so that it can use its built-in sensors (eyes, ears, etc.) to relay info back to Dennett’s brain. This is effectively a stretching of the nerves.

“here I am, suspended in a bubbly fluid, being stared at by my own eyes …” — still can’t manage to convince himself to place himself in the tank

Dennett’s body is then trapped under a rockslide and as the radio links slowly give away, a shift in point-of-view occurs.

Is Dennett really in the tank of nutrient, really trapped beneath the soil, or really no-place at all (or both places at once)?

Point of view is a construct grounded in the brain’s experiences of control, communication, and feedback. This leaves it open to rapid and radical reconfiguration


Communication on a higher level of abstraction in which the human communicates goals and the robot comes up with the plan to achieve it

Example of going to a shop:

  • We never think of each individual muscle movement or thought
  • It’s more of a general “I need a soda, I’m gonna go to the store”
  • Most of what ‘I’ did, ‘I’ seemed to have very little to do with the vast bulk of neural activity leading both to, and away from, this tip of the metaphorical ‘I’berg is unconscious.

Our conscious high-level decisions thus serve as the impetus for the other systems to do their stuff, while still devolving substantial sub-problems to other internal agencies.

This is what T. Sheridan (1992) originally dubbed “Supervisory Control”: a type of control in which only goals and high level commands are communicated to the slave robot.