Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"The Transhuman Condition"


jimf said...
Singularity 1 on 1: The Singularity is closer than it appears!

Socrates of Singularity 1 on 1 sits down with William Hertling to talk
about the technological singularity and AI. . .

During our 45 min conversation with William we cover a variety
of interesting topics such as: the impact of reading [Charlie Stross's]
_Accelerando_ and [Ray Kurzweil's] _The Singularity is Near_; how he was
challenged to become a sci fi author and outlined the plot of his first
book on the proverbial paper-napkin; the extrapolation of current trends
in software and hardware as a way of predicting technological progress;
the importance of theory of mind for the creating of artificial intelligence;
the singularity and whether it is more likely to happen in a hacker garage
or a military lab; hard take-off vs soft take-off; whole brain simulation
and the diminishing costs thereof; if an AI apocalypse is a plausible
future scenario or not; transhumanism and healthy life-extension…

Yes, I suppose it might help to have a "theory of mind" if you're
trying to create an AI (or maybe not -- is Henry Markram "trying to
create an AI? ;-> ). It might help even more if your theory
of mind is a little more sophisticated than something
out of Ayn Rand.

jimf said...

The last three "On the Twitter" retweets from Athena Andreadis:
@natselrox @GaryMarcus "The brain is a computer" is about as correct as
"brain is a clock" & unproductive for both #biology & #computersci.

@jbordeaux @natselrox @GaryMarcus In fact, arguing that brain/mind can
be split like hard/sofware is the real dualism elephant in the room.

@natselrox @GaryMarcus "The brain is a computer" is about as correct
as "brain is a clock" & unproductive for both #biology & #computersci.

You know, I had (or attempted to have) that argument (or "civilized
discussion" ;-> ) with a very smart person (a computer programmer I've
known for decades) and it was impossible for me to get the subtle
distinction to register. In his view, saying "the brain is not a computer"
is tantamount to being a mystic, or a vitalist -- equivalent to claiming that life,
and intelligence, must have a supernatural or non-material basis.
I could **not** get past that impasse. So it is, I would guess,
with many naive Transhumanists, Singularitarians, and AI enthusiasts.

And that's true at the highest levels of what passes as the intelligentsia.
I suspect you might see the same misunderstandings spun out if you
were to witness a conversation between, say, Gerald M. Edelman
and, oh, Daniel Dennett (or, for that matter, Ben Goertzel ;-> ).

Dale Carrico said...

Many GOFAI-deadenders and techno-immortalists of the uploading sect seem to reject supernaturalism about mind only to replace it with a sooper-naturalism of robotic-AI, in which the mind-body dualism of spiritualism is re-erected as a information-meat dualism. Of course, any consistent materialism about mind will treat seriously the materialization of actually-existing minds in biological bodies, and will recall that all information is instantiated in material carriers. The non-negligible material substantiation of intelligence and mind argues against pseudo-science and bad poetry depending on inapt metaphors of "translation" and "uploading" and "transfer" to wish away these material realities the better to indulge in infantile wish-fulfillment fantasies about invulnerability from error, disease, or mortality by techno-transcending the hated meat body as digital cyberangel avatars in Holodeck Heaven and then peddling that priestly con-artistry and New Age woo as science. Anyway, it makes no sense to pretend materialism justifies dualism but it is perfectly predictable that those for whom it somehow does justify robot-congenial info-meat dualisms those who deny this leap must be back-door supernaturalists and vitalists. For the futurological faithful one is either a believer in spirit stuff that lives on in Heaven after death or a believer in info-stuff that will be uploaded in Holodeck Heaven: actual, this-worldly, secular-progressive, technoscientifically-literate materialisms don't hold much interest for Robot Cultists, you know.