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The Singularity Delusion

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  • The Singularity Delusion

    Good evening all. Just wanted to share one of my more recent articles. Explores the topic of the technological singularity/biological robot narrative that is often a topic of keen interest in the "consciousness wars". Thought some of you might find it interesting. Tried not to make it too long or involved as the nuts and bolts of this topic can get a little brain-numbing at times. Thanks for taking the time to check it out, much appreciated.

    The Singularity Delusion | J.C.M Blog

  • #2
    Interesting

    I enjoyed your blog post.

    I wonder if science fiction has given people the false sense of AI being something we will create soon?

    I find it hard to believe that anyone that has actually worked with industrial robots could think of people as robotic.

    Similarly I find it hard to believe that anyone purchasing a robot dog finds them anywhere as satisfying as a living dog.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by North View Post
      I wonder if science fiction has given people the false sense of AI being something we will create soon?
      In the 1980's and 90's the proponents of AI created incredible hype - basically in order to drum up equally incredible sums of money!

      David

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by North View Post
        I enjoyed your blog post.

        I wonder if science fiction has given people the false sense of AI being something we will create soon?

        I find it hard to believe that anyone that has actually worked with industrial robots could think of people as robotic.

        Similarly I find it hard to believe that anyone purchasing a robot dog finds them anywhere as satisfying as a living dog.
        Well I'd say almost certainly. It's not the only thing but certainly a significant factor. Similar to how the Time Machine by H.G. Wells laid the groundwork for accepting the many strange time paradoxes that accompanied Relativity. Obviously Relativity is more airtight than the idea of the Singularity, but the time paradox stuff associated with it, to me at least, shows there is something quite wrong with its conceptual view of the universe and/or our interpretation of it.

        Regards.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
          In the 1980's and 90's the proponents of AI created incredible hype - basically in order to drum up equally incredible sums of money!

          David
          And equal parts new religion for the "new atheists". If they're so comfortable with their view of no after life, I find it interesting why many of them invest so much time theorizing about, and dialoguing about, downloading their brains into computers, etc. The singularity is simply a new eschaton, a new end times scenario, for techno-fetishists. Beyond silly in my view.

          And this is not to say there are not "mechanistic" parts of the brain (especially the lower functioning parts of ourselves). But to push that analogy too far is beyond foolhardy. I suggest the Ari Schulman article on New Atlantis linked in my article for anyone interested in a really balanced and thorough accounting of this debate; a herculean effort for a technology article.

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          • #6
            A good article exploring some of the reasons a strong AI "singularity event" such as forecast by Kurzweil or Vernor Vinge is extremely unlikely or even impossible.

            It occurs to me that in the unlikely event it is possible and practicable at all, inevitably somewhere in the Galaxy or the Universe some other species or multiple species will have already achieved inconceivably great intelligence and power. If so we are already living in some sort of alien (God?) Matrix. Is this possible, and if so are there any signs? I don't think so.

            I think a main factor is that we have no theoretical framework of understanding of cognition and consciousness and especially, how it is supposedly mechanized in the brain of 100 billion neurons and maybe a quadrillion synaptic junctions. Incredible computing power is indeed coming about but it will be useless without this understanding, which is a very long way away if it is even possible. There have been no major theoretical advances in AI since the 1960s, and progress in understanding consciousness as a product of neuronal activity has been very slow. The creation of such ideas and theories is running into a sort of neurological "complexity brake" and doesn't follow an exponential curve or a Moore's Law-style acceleration. The kind of multiple fundamental neuroscience breakthroughs required are extremely unlikely to happen in the near future or perhaps ever.

            Finally, the trumping factor is that the existence of psychical phenomena shows that consciousness is not a function of the brain, but that some sort of transmission or transceiver theory is needed to understand consciousness. If this is the case neither a brain neuronal emulation approach or any other AI approach will possibly be able to produce consciousness, much less human consciousness. I guess time will tell, but it will take much more time than any of us will be around.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
              A good article exploring some of the reasons a strong AI "singularity event" such as forecast by Kurzweil or Vernor Vinge is extremely unlikely or even impossible.

              It occurs to me that in the unlikely event it is possible and practicable at all, inevitably somewhere in the Galaxy or the Universe some other species or multiple species will have already achieved inconceivably great intelligence and power. If so we are already living in some sort of alien (God?) Matrix. Is this possible, and if so are there any signs? I don't think so.

              I think a main factor is that we have no theoretical framework of understanding of cognition and consciousness and especially, how it is supposedly mechanized in the brain of 100 billion neurons and maybe a quadrillion synaptic junctions. Incredible computing power is indeed coming about but it will be useless without this understanding, which is a very long way away if it is even possible. There have been no major theoretical advances in AI since the 1960s, and progress in understanding consciousness as a product of neuronal activity has been very slow. The creation of such ideas and theories is running into a sort of neurological "complexity brake" and doesn't follow an exponential curve or a Moore's Law-style acceleration. The kind of multiple fundamental neuroscience breakthroughs required are extremely unlikely to happen in the near future or perhaps ever.

              Finally, the trumping factor is that the existence of psychical phenomena shows that consciousness is not a function of the brain, but that some sort of transmission or transceiver theory is needed to understand consciousness. If this is the case neither a brain neuronal emulation approach or any other AI approach will possibly be able to produce consciousness, much less human consciousness. I guess time will tell, but it will take much more time than any of us will be around.
              Definitely agree. Thanks for the compliment and good overview of the subject matter, especially as I see it.

              Take care.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
                Finally, the trumping factor is that the existence of psychical phenomena shows that consciousness is not a function of the brain, but that some sort of transmission or transceiver theory is needed to understand consciousness. If this is the case neither a brain neuronal emulation approach or any other AI approach will possibly be able to produce consciousness, much less human consciousness. I guess time will tell, but it will take much more time than any of us will be around.
                If so then it is plausible that:

                Any more advanced species in this universe would have worked out how to create machines which could house consciousness. No need to create 'AI', just the machinery to house consciousness. If possible, then this has many practical applications in this universe.

                We could conceivably eventually do this same thing.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
                  Finally, the trumping factor is that the existence of psychical phenomena shows that consciousness is not a function of the brain, but that some sort of transmission or transceiver theory is needed to understand consciousness.
                  A small correction: consciousness is a function of the brain but the transmission theory is correct, it may be a permissive function, non-productive:

                  Human Immortality by William James

                  It is assumed that function is always productive function, which is wrong.

                  But I agree with that transhumanists have underestimated the difficulty of building AIs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                    In the 1980's and 90's the proponents of AI created incredible hype - basically in order to drum up equally incredible sums of money!
                    David
                    I agree, that seems to be the problem.
                    I've recently discovered this youtube channel:
                    Nikola Danaylov - YouTube

                    There are some interesting interviews including one with S.Hameroff talking about these issues.

                    In this interview, Marvin Minsky argues that lots of money from the golden years of AI research (80's - 90's as you said) has been deflected to other fields that have more immediate paybacks.

                    Marvin Minsky on Singularity 1 on 1: The Turing Test is a Joke! - YouTube

                    I am no advocate of transhumanism but found some of those interviews interesting and pretty "creepy" in terms of the perspective that they paint for the future. The attempt to redefine the human being with technology doesn't look very promising.

                    Natasha Vita-More on Whole Body Prosthetic - YouTube

                    How do you redefine something you haven't defined yet?

                    Cheers
                    Last edited by Bucky; October 1st, 2013, 05:03 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Jmag, you blog is superb. I think, you can start several more threads based on your blogposts - about LENR/cold fusion, for example.

                      I want to ask you a pair of questions...

                      1) About your blogpost "The Introspective Value of Conspiracy"... Jmag, did you read Robert Anton Wilson (RAW)? If you did, was he your source of inspiration, along with Philip K. Dick? And if you not, I highly recommend you to read RAW - you'll like his works for sure! Many of his books can be found as free PDFs via Google...

                      2) I actually had some thoughts which may be a good addition to the ideas expressed in your "The Introspective Value of Conspiracy" blogpost. Please read my post #73 on "214. Dr. Suzanne Gordon Looks Deeply Into Near Death Experience Cases (Podcast)" thread - I'm really interested on your opinion regarding it!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Vortex,

                        Much appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

                        I took your advice since your post and watched some RAW videos, and watched his 2003 Documentary Maybe Logic. Brought a lot of emotions to the surface for me. Rarely can someone communicate in such a disarming, funny way about some of the deepest and most meaningful aspects of reality. Some of my preferred authors are definitely influenced by RAW (such as Alan Greene for example), but I had never engaged with him directly. Thanks for that. Philip Dick has definitely been a catalyst/influence on my worldview, and someone I think had one of the most extraordinary spiritual experiences imaginable. I think this even after having corresponded with Ray Faraday Nelson, one of Dick's best friend, who basically thinks he was only doing it to build up a cult of personality. I do not think that for various reasons that I won't get into now.

                        I will dig into that thread this evening, as it's rather long and haven't had the time to view it in depth this week. I'll be getting back to you in that regard.

                        Thanks again.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A good interview from Sync Book's 42-Minutes podcast w/ pop-media contrarian Dough Rushkoff. They dig into transhumanism more toward the end, but the interview overall touches on the human condition and technological cross-over generally.

                          The Sync Book ? 42 Minutes

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dominic777
                            Most transhumanists also believe in what’s known as the Technological Singularity; a moment fast approaching when machines will hypothetically eclipse human intellect and in effect render us all obsolete. In this view Artificial Intelligence (aka Strong AI) will become pervasive, all knowing, and all powerful.I totally disagree with this notion, we know very little about the brain and its functions, most transhumanists are trying to find the keys to immortality, longevity...only by raising ones consciousness will that happen.
                            Exactly right. We're in agreement (I think, unless I'm misunderstanding what notion you don't agree with).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just finished watching this interview with Noam Chomsky:
                              Noam Chomsky: The Singularity is Science Fiction! - YouTube

                              Comment

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