Published: March 29, 2022

By Nathanial White (MEngl'09)

Conscious Designs (Miami University Press, 133 pages; 2022)

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In the near future, Eugene, a wealthy executive for a company that grows organs for human transplantation, looks for ways to escape the pain and disability of his biological existence as a paraplegic. Eugene considers purchasing a Second Self from Conscious Designs, a company that claims to be able to replicate his consciousness into a digital utopia where he may be free of the pain that torments his physical existence. A relatively new technology, the ethics and philosophy of digital life remain disputed.  Eugene’s wife, Corina, questions his motives and his understanding of what it means to be human if consciousness can be copied.  The more Eugene understands about digital replication, the more he begins to question the nature of personhood, love, and reality. In their journey of self discovery, Corina and Eugene learn the value of suffering, empathy and mortality. Conscious Designs explores the boundaries between body and mind, self and other, neurology and cybernetics, reality and simulation.