Is it a comedy gig? A hip hop gig? A neuroscience lecture? Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide To Consciousness is all three. You may well walk out laughing, humming and wondering if you are a human being or a robot.
Leave any Vanilla Ice expectations in the cloakroom and imagine if Eminem had read philosopher Daniel Dennett. Brinkman wittily weaves together accessible ideas and inventive rhymes. Discussing artificial intelligence he sings “From Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas, people thought if you wanted design, you need a mind first.”
The locquacious Canadian employs case studies in an attempt to clarify what consciousness is. In one adorably cute sequence he raps about his new baby Dylan, while an image of his smiling offspring flickers onscreen. Has Dylan got self-awareness yet? And if so did he have it as a tadpole-like embryo, dad asks.
There is lots to take in. Is there free will or are we all just glorified machines, slaves to our firing neurones? Apparently most of you reading this will have a “Jennifer Aniston neurone”, triggered whenever you think of the Friends star, whether you like it or not.