ghost in the machine


Also found in: Acronyms, Wikipedia.

ghost in the machine

1. Human consciousness and thought as an entity distinct and separate from the body. Of course, our mental state is so inextricably linked to our physical state that it is at best purely speculative to think of the mind as some sort of ghost in the machine.
2. By extension, virtual consciousness resulting from artificial intelligence inside of a computer system. The novel, set in the very distant future, imagines a world where the line between human and artificial consciousness is blurred, leading many to wonder who is truly human, and who is simply a ghost in the machine.
See also: ghost, machine

the ghost in the machine

the mind viewed as distinct from the body.
This phrase was coined by the British philosopher Gilbert Ryle in The Concept of Mind ( 1949 ) for a viewpoint that he considered completely misleading.
See also: ghost, machine
References in periodicals archive ?
The doctrine of the ghost in the machine is that people are inhabited by an immaterial soul that is the locus of free will and choice and which can't be reduced to a function of the brain.
reason: Why is the ghost in the machine doctrine a myth?
Pinker: I think part of the fear of biotechnology really comes from a notion of the ghost in the machine. One of the great fears of cloning--the absurd idea that cloning is going to create an army of mindless drones--comes from a mental model of cloning that says that it's duplicating the body without a soul.
Robert Bresson's 1967 film Mouchette, in which the fourteen-year-old protagonist is driven to suicide, might seem a grim premise for a website, but www.mouchette.org transcends the merely macabre to offer a gripping prototype for Net artist as ghost in the machine. Begun in October 1996 by an anonymous Amsterdam-based artist who calls herself "Mouchette" and (still) claims to be "nearly thirteen," the site has evolved from simple character impersonation into an interactive narrative, attracting devoted fans who send its heroine gifts and advice, including novel ideas on how to kill herself (for a 1997 work titled Suicide Kit).
An enigmatic local boss, Takahashi (Takeshi Kitano), is "spoken to" through his computer by a "ghost in the machine," which insists that the information in Johnny's head is extremely important.
Most important though, is Cronenberg's suggestion of a purely digital life form at the very end of Videodrome--"The New Flesh." While it is unclear what the evolutionary mechanism for this life form might be--and, frankly, I doubt if Cronenberg cares; speculation about future life forms is really not his project--it shares undeniable characteristics with the Gibsonian "ghost in the machine" and seemingly infinite replication with the screamers.