I'm extremely skeptical of this, even though I spend a good deal of my time trying to automate machine 2 machine communication (which gets me thinking about this a lot). I also think that there's a good amount of hubris in these scientists believing that the brain is something that can be emulated by computing power of any kind...are we sure it's an apt analogy (brain as computer)?
Why not? I keep seeing these discussions pointing out the futility of thinking about the brain as a computer, but still don't see powerful arguments to back that postulate up, other than the 'brain too hard, computer too easy, so brain no computer'.
Brain as a computer, in my opinion should be the default state for this discussions. Why? Consider the old and tired brain-made-of-matter argument. There's no reason to think there's something magical or supernatural inside the brain, so treat it as an organized collection of atoms doing cool stuff. The default state cannot be magic, it has to be something that can be disproved or ruled out.
Some parts of it seem to work, as fas as we know, in a (suspiciously) algorithmic way, or in other words, a highly abstract step-by-step chain of actions can be identify for a given part of the brain.
Why not start with the crazy assumption that the whole brain acts as a computer (the theoretical concept), and then identify which parts of it fail the analogy? The key part here is the word 'fail': it should not mean 'too complex for any computer we have built' nor 'we don't know any algorithm that does that', it should mean that there are parts that inherently cannot be modelled, under any circumstances, like the definition of algorithm.
If some part is discovered not to hold the analogy, you should just then question if the analogy is question is apt or not.
It's totally fair for one to start with that assumption, and stick with it until proven otherwise. But it's just as fair for me to be skeptical of the analogy. Before the concept of computers existed, people (very smart people) thought the complex organisms worked just like mechanical machines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_philosophy), and I'm sure there were - and are - many similarities and likenesses to be drawn. However that analogy wasn't correct as we now know. So we're on to the current thinking. Fair enough.
I also think it's a jump to go from "if brain isn't a computer - then magical". There's a lot of room in between. And there are plenty of reasons to think that what goes on inside the brain cannot be mimicked by a computer or algorithms as we currently know them. We don't even know what consciousness is! We should at least admit as much...
I really liked the point of mechanical philosophy you made. This is science in action, when one paradigm can no longer be a valid model, a revised one with none of its weaknesses but with more virtues arises, in this case, the computing machine philosophy.
>And there are plenty of reasons to think that what goes on inside the brain cannot be mimicked by a computer or algorithms as we currently know them. We don't even know what consciousness is! We should at least admit as much...
I agree, it's a huge jump! And that's precisely my point. The brain as a computer paradigm has nothing to do with the idea that an i5 core can't recognize cats, is the theoretical aspect of a computing machine that is used when trying to argue in favour of the BaaC paradigm.
Conciousness is precisely what doesn't fit in the BaaC paradigm. So the research should start from there.
I'm curious if the definition conciousness will have to be changed in the near future. Exciting times!
Where is the hubris in attempting to do something without knowing whether it's possible? What is it about AI that seems to make people defensive? Is it the idea that human intelligence might not be as special as we think it is?
Religious people, even if not strict, have this reaction always. I don't see this clashing with religion, but 'they' do. Then again, i'm not religious although I was raised with the bible at home and in school and know it by heart.
I guess that if you're religious, then yeah, almost by definition, you would be skeptical of assertions like these. Although to the parent comments point, I'm not defensive at all about looking into AI. I find it fascinating and exciting and though I'm not trained in it, I read as much as I can about it and don't want to stop any research or questions into it at all.
But hubris - yes it is hubris. Because there is no scientific basis for the assertion that we will cross that chasm into 'true' AI, and thus it's based just as much on faith as any religious belief. And it's hubris because they claim a scientific basis where there is none.
When there is a scientific basis or proof that we've reached (or will reach) this 'singularity', you won't see me complaining. I'm not anti-science. I just don't think it's ever going to happen.
On a semi-related note, doesn't anyone find it kind of odd that Ray Kurzweil's calculations for when the singularity will occur happen to be just about the time his natural life will end (statistically speaking)? These projections are all driven by ego and faith, very little by science...
I said exactly that about Kurzweil his predictions here on HN a while ago; others have the same issue; fear of death moves their predictions near the end of their own life. That's not weird though; if you don't get to see it yourself, what's the point? Sure it's nice for the future generations but that's not really how most people think.
About religion and science; it is about definition where there difference is; IF you accept some definition X as being strong AI then when we reach that we have a scientific reality. The chasm and 'true' AI and what these are in scientific terms are vague, however in science we accept definitions of how nature works and if those definitions are things you hold true there is no reason why it won't be reached as there is not 'special' in the fabric of our brains which we couldn't copy given advanced enough ehm, take your pick; biology, nanotech, electronics, 3d printing etc. If you however cannot agree on definitions and have that (to me alien) quality of accepting mystery above all, then sure it's all believe or not. Not a good conversation maker as we are done after 2s, but he.
I don't know tluyben, we've been having this conversation now for....24 hours or so. I think 2s is a bit of a low estimate ;)
Seriously though, I don't think the Conversation needs to end there (conversation with a capital C - ours can end whenever we want). I do indeed believe in 'mystery above all'. I actually think that's a lovely way of putting it. Because mysteries are just unknowns, and without unknowns, what happens to scientific exploration? Do we just assume we know everything? And then the exploration stops. I'll be more explicit than that as well - I believe in God, and I am somewhat religious. I don't think that cancels me out of any interesting conversations.
I think you're making an assumption when you say that if you hold scientific definitions true then there is no reason why it won't be reached. Science says nothing about the future certainty. It is composed of models whose intent is to reflect reality, testable hypotheses to build and refine those models, and the results of the tests of those hypotheses to validate or disprove the hypotheses. We have no model (other than some vague calculations of processing power of the brain), no testable hypotheses and no results for these projections. It's not science.
But I would say I've proven you wrong that this isn't a good conversation!
You are right, it's a good convo. And one worth to be continued. I also do not assume we know everything, but I think we can. And I also think that it's giving up to just assign stuff we don't get to 'something we cannot understand or see or ever find but is there and is intelligent on top of all that'.
Also like I mentioned before, I have no clue how AI would clash with the existence of a God or religion. And so I don't understand why religious people get so upset about it. There are many things we improved on where we don't try to take god's place (as I guess that's what it's all about) according to religious people; like when we made a wheel, did we better God's work or try to out-do His work by showing that wheels are more efficient for a lot of things than legs? I don't see the difference with copying or even improving on intelligence. So what that clash is I don't know but religious people seem to get downright aggressive when you talk about strong AI which gives me, and many others, even more incentive to just side them with the crazies.
I was born in the Dutch bible belt and I was raised with religion in school where I had to learn verses by heart and recite them every day; the people too stupid to learn them (small village with lot of inbred) were punished for not being able to learn them and I was punished for asking questions like didn't God create these stupid people too, why punish them for something they cannot do? My aunt used to give me physics books for my birthday written by religious professors; actual physics books with quantum mechanics and string theory. And although I did not believe in god at all from a very early age (mostly because none of the people who tried to push me into christianity wanted to answer any critical questions) and I don't and never will understand how someone can believe in most of the the things religion dictates, those books my aunt brought showed not everyone was a crackpot and actually there is no reason (and there isn't ffs) why physics, AI, evolution theory would not simply rhyme with religion. They are not mutually exclusive as so many (I cannot find another way of saying it) misguided individuals seem to think especially in the US. I assume you are not one of them as you don't mind critical discussion etc.
No, I'm not one of those people. And I agree with basically everything you've said here (except for the part about the possibilities of AI and the limitations of mystery - but we've covered that!). I find the closed-mindedness of many people so disappointing. I think asking these questions is so important. I also find others' experiences with religion fascinating. Thank you for sharing. My experience was extremely different - and the community I was (and am) part of doesn't strike me as closed-minded. As you note, there are many religious people who don't see a conflict between science and religion. I count myself as one of them.
Yeah, agreed on the car thing. Last year I bought a used '09 Accord V6 fully loaded for $17.5k with great maintenance records and low miles. My other car is an '08 Outback, which I bought in '09 for $18k and it had extremely low miles.
You DO NOT need to spend over $20k to get a great, reliable used car. I am guessing your standards for fun to drive might be different than mine, but an Accord V6 has plenty of power and you just never have to worry about maintenance.
I agree. It seems to me that we're dealing something whose potential we don't yet fully understand. It might very well fail, but a declaration by the IRS changes nothing except the behavior of speculators.
If all Bitcoin is good for is a way to replace Visa/MC then there is nothing all that fundamentally different about it. Dwolla and/or others will take care of that.
It is clear that it will take time for the really interesting uses of Bitcoin to emerge (if it survives). Until then, it doesn't matter what anyone declares about it.
It won't. We have many decades of evidence that 'back-to-basics' will never be more than a niche movement. The world is very large, and Google, Apple and co, are much more vested in the folks coming 'up' (3rd world developing) than in the tiny minority of people who can even afford to think about back to basics.
You are very clearly being anti-semitic. I don't have the power to downvote, but comments like this should always be repudiated. Putting the word "community" in quotes, talking about "rich Jews" as the only victims of the Holocaust, and strongly implying that Jews control the media narrative because of some unified global economic power make you an anti-semite of the worst kind. You can't just say "not trying to be anti-semitic" and think that gives you a pass. You are anti-semitic based on what you are saying. Everything you are saying is unfounded and based on bigoted tropes that have been around for centuries. Own what you say and what you explicitly imply, and defend it if you think it's true.
Look, this isn't the right forum and I'm not the right person to engage in this. Though I appreciate that your are engaging in a civil manner, I don't think you're being honest with yourself here either, and I recommend you take a deep look at the precise words of your post to understand why.