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

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Faith-Based Digital-Utopian Accuses Skeptics of Magical Thinking

Another illuminating exchange adapted from the Moot --
a religious belief that a mind can only exist in the form of a biological brain... implies something magical about brains
One can easily concede the possibility in principle that phenomena legible as "minds" might be instantiated on non-biological structures while at once taking seriously that all consciousness properly so called has always been biological, that our understanding of consciousness and intelligence as phenomena is conspicuously incomplete, and that believers in the program of building artificial intelligence as a cohort often exhibit overconfidence incompatible with their history of failure, rely on reductive understandings of mind that have gotten them nowhere for good reason, regularly exhibit pathological hostility to the biological incarnation of mind and sociopathic hostility to the social performance of intelligence. You can dismiss those who don't ascribe to the faith-based initiative of good old fashioned artificial intelligence and its digital-utopian, cybernetic totalist, singularitarian and techno-immortal variations as religionists if you like, if that helps you sleep at night, but it isn't exactly hard to discern the religiosity of GOFAI ideology.
you would not be able to tell assuming the machine accurately copies the person's behaviour in every way
Consciousness and intelligence have subjective, objective, and inter-subjective dimensions in which they are substantiated -- when you claim your ideal machine "copies the person's behavior in every way" you must be presuming the machine is physically indistinguishable from the person and would be so even for a physician or a lover; you must also be proposing that the narrative continuity of this person would be subjectively and objectively coherent -- for instance, nobody would have witnessed the death and replacement of the person by a machine. Quite apart from the fact that none of this remotely accomplishable and so there is no reason to regard any of this as relevant to pubic policy or investment or as anything but a distraction from actually urgently relevant questions and problems (some of them related to computation and networks), to be honest your thought experiment seems to rely on a premise of indistinguishability which either disregards as irrelevant differences that actually make a difference to anybody who isn't a sociopath or which sets such a high bar for indistinguishability that it isn't clear why it wouldn't be pathological to claim the person in question had been "replaced" by a "machine" in the first place.


Lorraine said...

You, you, you bioconservative, you!

Dale Carrico said...

Hey, you laugh, but I really do think one of the impacts of the transhumanist/superlative-futurological derangement of technoscience deliberation is the way every position gets skewed to technophilic/technophobic poles neither of which is of much use for understanding or policy-making and both of which are politically reactionary.

jollyspaniard said...

Folks who say "religious belief" to attack an idea annoy me. It's something of a bugbear.

Dale Carrico said...

And hearing it from the robocultically-inclined always strikes me as an especially hilarious turn.