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Organoid Sentience

Verma, Shourya (2024) Organoid Sentience. [Preprint]


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Recent advances in stem cell-derived human brain organoids and microelectrode array (MEA) technology raise profound questions about the potential for these systems to give rise to sentience. Brain organoids are 3D tissue constructs that recapitulate key aspects of brain development and function, while MEAs enable bidirectional communication with neuronal cultures. As brain organoids become more sophisticated and integrated with MEAs, the question arises: Could such a system support not only intelligent computation, but subjective experience? This paper explores the philosophical implications of this thought experiment, considering scenarios in which brain organoids exhibit signs of sensory awareness, distress, preference, and other hallmarks of sentience. It examines the ethical quandaries that would arise if compelling evidence of sentience were found in brain organoids, such as the moral status of these entities and the permissibility of different types of research. The paper also explores how the phenomenon of organoid sentience might shed light on the nature of consciousness and the plausibility of artificial sentience. While acknowledging the speculative nature of these reflections, the paper argues that the possibility of sentient brain organoids deserves serious consideration given the rapid pace of advances in this field. Grappling with these questions proactively could help set important ethical boundaries for future research and highlight critical avenues of scientific and philosophical inquiry. The thought experiment of sentient brain organoids thus serves as a valuable lens for examining deep issues at the intersection of neuroscience, ethics, and the philosophy of mind.

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Item Type: Preprint
Keywords: Brain Organoids, Sentience, Consciousness, Ethics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence > AI and Ethics
Depositing User: Mr. Shourya Verma
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2024 14:35
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 14:35
Item ID: 23552
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence > AI and Ethics
Date: 10 June 2024

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