Outrageous philosophical questions

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Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 07:44 am
I probably have a bit of a mean streak and I like to ask questions for which there are either no answers, or unsettling answers.

My favorite is: "What distinguishes the human brain from a sufficiently advanced artificial counterpart?"

This one is great. Even if, like me, you make provision for some kind of anima mundi which serves as a metaphysical canvas for thought, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with reasons why a machine can't think. Searle's "Chinese room" argument, though spirited, is ultimately an oblique appeal to absurdity: our brains, like their artificial equivalents, are symbolic computers. Namely, they are electrochemical neural networks. If anything, Searle shows that neither we nor artificial computers, at least not without some additional semantic faculty...

That being said, the most recent neuroscience and artificial intelligence research is eroding our privileged status at the tippy-top of the natural world. Indeed, what would stop a machine from having thoughts, having feelings, maybe having greater minds than our own, given that at least the mechanics of mind can be explained in materialistic terms? Even atheists, or maybe, especially atheists don't like this one. People often protest that machines can be better at math or something, but can't have emotional experiences, based on their muddled image of what a machine is: we are also machines; we have computers in our heads, made of billions of mushy threshold gates that break easily.

In truth, I don't want to see the human race die out. The reason I pose this question is to shock people out of their complacency and realize they are not all that, they don't own the planet, they don't have a free pass to go unreasoning through their unexamined little lives ...... if they don't start reasoning, something else will eventually do it for them. Occasionally this approach even works, and I am glad.

Do you guys do this as well or am I just a jerk?
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:13 am
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;66527 wrote:


That being said, the most recent neuroscience and artificial intelligence research is eroding our privileged status at the tippy-top of the natural world. Indeed, what would stop a machine from having thoughts, having feelings,

It's absurd to suppose that computers could have thoughts and feeling's and people who promote this view are still intertwinned with Descarte's, in supposing that emotion's are some purely mental property which hold a secluded existence from the rest of the world. Rather than something that is observable in both people's behaviour and in the working's of there neurology.

It's absurd of talking about a computer being in pain, how would the computer exhibit this pain. Emotive predicates can only be applied to a creature that has the ability to manifest such capacities in behaviour in speech, action and in reaction to the circumstances of life.
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:31 am
@RDanneskjld,
R.Danneskjöld;66570 wrote:
It's absurd to suppose that computers could have thoughts and feeling's and people who promote this view are still intertwinned with Descarte's, in supposing that emotion's are some purely mental property which hold a secluded existence from the rest of the world. Rather than something that is observable in both people's behaviour and in the working's of there neurology.

It's absurd of talking about a computer being in pain, how would the computer exhibit this pain. Emotive predicates can only be applied to a creature that has the ability to manifest such capacities in behaviour in speech, action and in reaction to the circumstances of life.


But we are computers.

Neurons are the threshold gates, dendrites are their inputs, and axa are their outputs. The brain is an electrochemical neural network.

So a sufficiently advanced machine would be able to experience nervous transmissions through, say, being hit by a large rock, carry them up to its electronic brain, and interpret the message accordingly, just as we do, and say: "OW! DAMMIT!"

You can easily build neurons, or emulate them in software, as I have done before:

Neil Fraser: Hardware: Artificial Neuron

"Your brain is made up of neurons. Each neuron is a cell that sums its inputs, then if the total is greater than its threshold, it fires an output. That's basically all you and I are: 100 billion little adders, all running in parallel, cross-connected in interesting ways."

That said, illustrate the difference between man and machine in this respect. You can appeal to metaphysics to explain aspects of thought, if you like. I do; I think it's reasonable. But I don't see how people and artificial neural computers are substantially different.
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 11:56 am
@odenskrigare,
You can build Artificial software which you could simulate both the inputs and outputs of the brain, I dont deny that. But it is still senseless to talk about an artificial neural computer being in 'Pain'. When we talk about someone being in 'pain', 'worried' or 'upset' we are not reffering to the whats going on within there neurology, it may be one way to quantify if someone is having that particular emotive experience. But we talk about pain were talking about a set of behaviour's, of a living creature with a body. What would an upset computer look like?
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 12:12 pm
@RDanneskjld,
R.Danneskjöld;66577 wrote:
You can build Artificial software which you could simulate both the inputs and outputs of the brain, I dont deny that. But it is still senseless to talk about an artificial neural computer being in 'Pain'. When we talk about someone being in 'pain', 'worried' or 'upset' we are not reffering to the whats going on within there neurology, it may be one way to quantify if someone is having that particular emotive experience. But we talk about pain were talking about a set of behaviour's, of a living creature with a body. What would an upset computer look like?


What does it matter what it would look like?

Inject a paralyzing agent into a person's face and injure him. Maybe an expression of pain will not appear on his face. Is he still in pain? I would say so.
 
validity
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 05:07 am
@odenskrigare,
I see the hurdle as not a question of whether computers can (or do) have thoughts and feeling's. The hurdle I see is that when I can objectively demonstrate that other humans experience thoughts and feelings in a manner identical (or similar) to mine, then I have something that will allow me to answer these questions.
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 12:02 pm
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;66527 wrote:

My favorite is: "What distinguishes the human brain from a sufficiently advanced artificial counterpart?"
From the point of view of "capacity to hold a human counsciousness" I would say nothing.

R.Danneskjöld;66570 wrote:
It's absurd of talking about a computer being in pain, how would the computer exhibit this pain. Emotive predicates can only be applied to a creature that has the ability to manifest such capacities in behaviour in speech, action and in reaction to the circumstances of life.
Whats the difference between an human in pain and a computer simulating pain? Whats the difference between and human simulating pain and a computer in pain? Smile

As for software simulating neurons, there is a game wich uses this concept along with simulated dna and biochemistry to simulate quite realistic "pets": Creature Labs

As far as I know that is the closest that currently exists of computers having emotions... at least acessible to the average citizen Smile
 
nastrothomas
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 09:18 pm
@odenskrigare,
This is a question way beyond its years but still a valid one. Computers do exactly that compute, therefore a computerized brain structure would compute with complete logic, assuming that it had the compacity for it. Only to its demise would this "brain" of yours be able to do just that and no more. Logic by definition means a being is aware of its external environment and the internal impact of its mechanics. Abstract thought witch is necessary for life and reason, This sentient being would not be capable of.
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 09:58 pm
@nastrothomas,
nastrothomas;67248 wrote:
This is a question way beyond its years but still a valid one. Computers do exactly that compute, therefore a computerized brain structure would compute with complete logic, assuming that it had the compacity for it. Only to its demise would this "brain" of yours be able to do just that and no more. Logic by definition means a being is aware of its external environment and the internal impact of its mechanics. Abstract thought witch is necessary for life and reason, This sentient being would not be capable of.


What is the biological neural network then? Magical?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 10:14 pm
@odenskrigare,
People can make machines (e.g. a computer). Computers cannot make people.

Rich
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 10:30 pm
@odenskrigare,
That's irrelevant, and in the future it may not even be true.

What is the essential distinction between a natural and artificial neural network?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 10:38 pm
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;67265 wrote:
That's irrelevant, and in the future it may not even be true.

What is the essential distinction between a natural and artificial neural network?


Irrelevant? Not only is it relevant. It is the irrefutable difference. Sometimes, things are much more simple than you would like it to be. You can pack natural and neural networks away in a bag. If you can show me a computer than can make a person, then I will call them equivalent. BTW, anyone should feel free to use my answer in their next philosophy class. It will end the discussion very quickly. Smile

Rich
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:02 pm
@richrf,
richrf;67268 wrote:
Irrelevant?


Yes.

Being able to create X has nothing to do with intelligence.

Incidentally, according to the concept of seed AI, recursive embellishments to a sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence would divorce it from human understanding entirely.

(I shouldn't even have to mention this, but I'm also not talking about your laptop or desktop model, but an artificial brain with at least 100 billion neurons and one quadrillion interconnects.)

richrf;67268 wrote:
If you can show me a computer than can make a person, then I will call them equivalent.


Show me a human that can "create" a person from scratch. (Protip: Your comparison is unfair.)

Show me a human that can outperform a relatively crude collection of algorithms at genetic pattern detection or, hell, chess.

richrf;67268 wrote:
BTW, anyone should feel free to use my answer in their next philosophy class. It will end the discussion very quickly. Smile

Rich


Cheap rhetoric often does.

In fact, your argument is just slightly above Kent Hovind logic, and that's not saying much.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:08 pm
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;67272 wrote:
Show me a human that can "create" a person from scratch. (Protip: Your comparison is unfair.)


Uh?? Do we need a lesson on the birds and the bees. It does take two to Tango, but that is the way it is.

As for what is Intelligence and what is Creativity ... well, suffice to say there is no definition of either. Was Einstein creative or was he intelligent? Was Deep Blue, intelligent or just more creative than Kasparov. It can be argued. I am sure, for amusement, it can be discussed for another 5000 years. And why not?

Rich
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:14 pm
@richrf,
richrf;67273 wrote:
Uh?? Do we need a lesson on the birds and the bees. It does take two to Tango, but that is the way it is.


That's the point: your test is rigged and bogus. Besides, there are plenty of things that humans can't do and even crude computers and artificial intelligences can.

Have you even considered that a sufficiently advanced AI would probably have no desire to create humans?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:24 pm
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;67275 wrote:
That's the point: your test is rigged and bogus. Besides, there are plenty of things that humans can't do and even crude computers and artificial intelligences can.

Have you even considered that a sufficiently advanced AI would probably have no desire to create humans?


I'm an observer, not a science fiction writer, so I won't try to predict what may happen 1000 years from today. But sounds like a good Sci Fi story to me, and you may have a best seller on your hands. No kidding.

Computers basically add, subtract, and compare. Most children can do that. Not a very novel ability. All the claims of AI and such are great for getting grant money, but computers cannot do any better than what humans tell them to do - albeit very quickly. Computers can't make humans. They can't make other computers. Even a roach can make another roach. They are nice things to have on lonely evenings when it is cold outside, and I need something to do - so I blog. However, should they evolved so that they can make decent philosophical conversation, I will be more than happy to converse with them. There is a lot I would like to find out about them.

Rich
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:31 pm
@richrf,
richrf;67276 wrote:
I'm an observer, not a science fiction writer, so I won't try to predict what may happen 1000 years from today. But sounds like a good Sci Fi story to me, and you may have a best seller on your hands. No kidding.


It has taken less than one hundred years to advance from ENIAC to projects like Blue Brain and the NEC Earth Simulator, orders of magnitude less time than the advance from the earliest hominids to humans. (That analogy is tenuous, but it sheds some light on the rapidity of progress in this field.)

A 100 or 200 year time frame would be more appropriate according to most experts.

richrf;67276 wrote:
Computers basically add, subtract, and compare.


Guess what neurons do.

I am starting to doubt you have any understanding of computer science or neuroscience or anything like that.

richrf;67276 wrote:
but computers cannot do any better than what humans tell them to do - albeit very quickly. Computers can't make humans. They can't make other computers. Even a roach can make another roach.


Self-replicating machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And another thing: we are machines. Don't you get that?
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 12:01 am
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;67277 wrote:
I am starting to doubt you have any understanding of computer science or neuroscience or anything like that.



Self-replicating machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And another thing: we are machines. Don't you get that?


Well, I now I know what you think of yourself and me. Did you tell your wife (or girlfriend) what you think of her?

Seriously. Put a computer in the middle of a desert (with or without another computer of same or opposite sex), come back in a thousand years, and see how well they have multiplied.

Rich
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 12:09 am
@richrf,
richrf;67280 wrote:
Well, I now I know what you think of yourself and me. Did you tell your wife (or girlfriend) what you think of her?


Don't try to derail the argument with cutesy appeals to the consequences of beliefs, they're fallacious.

richrf;67280 wrote:
Seriously. Put a computer in the middle of a desert (with or without another computer of same or opposite sex), come back in a thousand years, and see how well they have multiplied.


That really depends on what kind of abilities the machine is endowed with.

Indeed, nano-robots could become very prolific.
 
richrf
 
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 08:52 am
@odenskrigare,
odenskrigare;67282 wrote:
Don't try to derail the argument with cutesy appeals to the consequences of beliefs, they're fallacious.



That really depends on what kind of abilities the machine is endowed with.

Indeed, nano-robots could become very prolific.


In terms of potential science-fiction, nano-robots may become quite prolific, and humans will be able to make computers out of pure thought (like the Krell civilization of Forbidden Planet), something that computers won't be able to do.

Everything is evolving. I have no idea what is going to happen five minutes from now, much less hundreds or even thousands of years from now. Computers may be able to develop the ability to create humans, and humans may develop the ability to obliterate computers via pure thought. All good sci-fi speculation, but as of the Present, humans create computers and not vice-versa.

Rich
 
 

 
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