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December 21, 2006

Comments

Zippy

Hey, I love it when you post something and we completely agree :-)

People who are troubled by the idea of conscious machines should read up on John Searle's (conclusive in my view) Chinese Room thought experiment, as well as Nagel's classic What is it like to be a bat?.

bill912

This reinforces the old saying: "There are some ideas so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them."

bill912

It also reinforces the fact that there are some people who have waaaaaaaay too much time on their hands.

Tim J.

I can see it now... grant legal rights to machines, but keep aborting unborn humans.

Moral vertigo.

Kasia

Amen to both of those, Bill. I'd ask how on earth anyone could believe that kind of tripe, but I don't have to - I work on a university campus.

That said, it's a nice ad absurdum (or maybe not so absurd) counter to people who argue that consciousness is necessary to human-ness. Next time someone tries to tell me that Terri Schiavo or an unborn baby didn't deserve rights, I may bring this up.

A.M.

In a world where the Ninth Circuit has actually entertained the possibility that [u]animals[/u] may have standing to file lawsuits, what do you expect?

Realist

Although the complexity of the human genome will in the near future prevent the generation of human life without the current method of procreation, one must conclude, however, that such generation in a test tube of artificially prepped biochemicals followed by proper feeding techniques to full human development is theoretically possible. Will we treat these "test tubers" as human?

http://www.kaleo.org/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/04/13/407b83e38aad5

Martin

Realist:
Yes, well maybe. Catholics will see them as human thus ensouled creatures capable of salvation. Common society will use a utilitarian view and deem them as machines thus disposable. Unless a movie star creates them. Then it's a child. ...blanking out on the 1950's SF author...short story called, "CMell". He created a society of animal/humans created to do the ugly jobs. they were treated as less than animals.

MissJean

Well, Jimmy, you've thrown a wrench in my scheme to rule the world. I was planning to wait for the "Robots Rights" legislation to passed, then unleash my army of robots to vote me into the presidency, the UN, etc.

Now I'll have to go back to training gerbils for armed combat and building cow-based ballistic missiles. Thanks a lot!

Seamus

Good post, except for the title. I don't think there's anything that I'd want to leave to "the moral theologians" -- the same gang that gave us Human Sexuality, by Anthony Kosnik and his buds at the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Tim J.

"Good post, except for the title. I don't think there's anything that I'd want to leave to "the moral theologians"

Well, sounds like those are IMMORAL theologians.

Magdelaine

This concept is one of the reasons that Battlestar Gallactica is one of my favorite shows; they play on the philosophical razor's edge of the nature of consciousness and being "human" in man and in something man creates. It is, however, science fiction. I do not think that conciousness as we know it will ever be possible in an artificial construct, so I have to agree with Jimmy on this. It's just more relativistic nonsense based on "feelings" rather than reality.

A.Williams

"I can see it now... grant legal rights to machines, but keep aborting unborn humans.

Moral vertigo."

...Yes, but by then these thinking machines will also be breeding! And then, FOR SURE, it will be ILLEGAL to abort the machine pregnancies. Such robots are valuable!!!

Alexander of Macedon

You'd think Jimmy's point would be obvious, even to someone like Asimov, who explored questions like this years ago. Asimov wrote about the "three laws." You'd think that anything subject to basic laws, which we program, definitionally couldn't be fully conscious because it couldn't be fully free.

DJ

Once all of the low hanging fruit in AI had been plucked back in the 60's, nothing new has appeared (CA's, NN's, GA's and Fuzzy Logic are about it folks..maybe add agents and Expert Systems in that list as well.) Nothing more powerful than LISP has been developed.

I'm just curious to know what people think about when it comes to Transformers. They're more than meets the eye you know...

DJ

You'd think that anything subject to basic laws, which we program, definitionally couldn't be fully conscious because it couldn't be fully free.

Yeah, but look at complexity theory. Simple rules produce complex patterns.

Anyways, Asimov's rules are moral guides, not in any way related to how the posotronic mind supposedly works (which always sounded like a neural network to me.)

Jeff Miller

Jimmy,

Have you read SF Author John C. Wright post "How long til the Singularity?" An excellent post where the author explains why AI just won't happen anytime soon or perhaps never.

http://johncwright.livejournal.com/21240.html

Especially interesting since he is an atheist turned Christian who wrote the Golden Age trilogy where AI's were prominent.

Dharmashaiva

Whoa, Nelly. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Fully-inorganic robotic AI is just one possibility. Another chimerical possibility is an human-organic/inorganic robotic hybrid AI, where some aspect of the human organism (specifically, brain and neural networks) is synthesized with an inorganic foundation. Would such a being have 'rights', or a 'soul'? How much of an organic structure must one lose, before one ceases to be human?

Esau

Actually, one ideal test of whether or not an AI is truly conscious is if it can demonstrate any evidence of actual creative thought such as writing a book that's completely original (not based on previous works of current or past human authors) and so forth.

I have yet to witness this even in the most sophisticated AI systems that claim they can configure the most basic of novel plots de novo.

Even then, can any evidence of such creative thought actually prove the existence of a soul within the frame of an AI machine?

It often goes back to that Modern Promethean tale of Frankenstein, to say the least!

Esau

Dharmashaiva:

About what you said -
Another chimerical possibility is an human-organic/inorganic robotic hybrid AI, where some aspect of the human organism (specifically, brain and neural networks) is synthesized with an inorganic foundation.


ACTUALLY, THIS HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE:

OXFORD, England -- A British university professor has been fitted with cyborg technology enabling his nervous system to be linked to a computer.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/03/22/human.cyborg/

Esau

-- Not really, but I'm sure there'll come a time judging from the above!

Dharmashaiva

Esau,

Yes, I read of that, which seems to be only a first step towards an even more intensively human-inorganic hybridization. Would it be possible someday to simply grow a brain-neural network within an inorganic frame? What percentage of 'organic' material would there have to be, for it to still be 'human', or 'ensouled'?

I question whether novel-writing should be a test for AI. I know lots of people who are intelligent, but who can barely write their names; so I don't know the usefulness of demanding such a feat from a computer.

Jim Whall

""I can see it now... grant legal rights to machines, but keep aborting unborn humans.

Moral vertigo."

...Yes, but by then these thinking machines will also be breeding! And then, FOR SURE, it will be ILLEGAL to abort the machine pregnancies. Such robots are valuable!!!"

My guess is that it would be okay, no matter how fully formed and functional, to take an axe to the robot as long as you did it before it left the factory.

Esau

What percentage of 'organic' material would there have to be, for it to still be 'human', or 'ensouled'?

human? perhaps.

ensouled? that depends on your definition.


I question whether novel-writing should be a test for AI. I know lots of people who are intelligent, but who can barely write their names; so I don't know the usefulness of demanding such a feat from a computer.

Yes, but people can demonstrate creative thought on a variety of levels. Writing is just one of them. Certainly, there are many other ways in addition to this one.

Tim J.

"Would such a being have 'rights', or a 'soul'? How much of an organic structure must one lose, before one ceases to be human?"

Here's a thought... how about we just don't try to find out?

A. Williams

We have a worse problem in the present, and don't really need to look too far ahead. We realize that a robot is really a dead thing. It has no spiritual life..this is easy. However, the Lord recognized that there are also living dead HERE and NOW...ie. "Let the dead bury their own dead". So too, some humans are also equated to be on the level of animals.."Is it right to throw the bread of the children to the dogs?". So my point is this, if Jesus made such comparisons to show that there are countless living humans which are currently, by the definition of Jesus, in the 'dead' state of both Robots and animals...do we really think a mechanical creation will be able to surmount this level of spiritual scrutinization or distinction? I seems that there might be enough difficulties just being a human in the state of grace.

Esau

A. Williams:

About what you said:
Let the dead bury their own dead". So too, some humans are also equated to be on the level of animals.."

This is not what Jesus meant at all!

Look, in both the Jewish and the Hellenistic world, it was regarded as a filial obligation of the highest importance to bury the dead.

In context, Jesus actually meant that people should place high on the list the business of honoring God and not be distracted by all kinds of other concerns.

He was actually pointing out how 'spiritually dead' some people have become.

Esau

Read the Scriptures for the context:

Luke 9:59-60:
59 But he said to another: Follow me. And he said: Lord, suffer me first to go and to bury my father.
60 And Jesus said to him: Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

-- AND --

Matthew 8:18-23
18 ¶ And Jesus seeing great multitudes about him, gave orders to pass over the water.
19 And a certain scribe came and said to him: Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou shalt go.
20 And Jesus saith to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
21 And another of his disciples said to him: Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
22 But Jesus said to him: Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.
23 ¶ And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him

DJ

This throws the novel writing idea out the window. jk :)

So here's a question:
What about the field of artificial life (ie, developing 'organisms' in software.) Is that life or not?

Esau

DJ:

That was hilarious!!!

Funny -- it seems as if it's often the brilliant students at M.I.T. who are the trouble-makers!

Wasn't it M.I.T. students who also broke the bank in Vegas???

http://semyon.com/abc%20primetime.htm

Esau

Put it this way:

"They took over $400,000 in one weekend out of the casinos in Las Vegas," says Gordon Adams, a casino security investigator.

DJ

Here's the same story that Jimmy linked to from the BBC.

Tim J.

Would Nixon's head in a jar have rights?

Kevin Jones

As I see it, a major problem with AI is trying to get qualitative judgments from quantitative systems. Many AI philosophers try to dodge the problem by reducing human thought and experience to the quantitative realm, but that's a bit self-serving.

As for Asimov's famous laws of Robotics, wouldn't a true AI be able to break those moral codes just as easily as an intelligent human?

A.Williams

Esau,
I agree with you that we are talking about..
"..how 'spiritually dead' some people have become"...as you say. And I'm trying to relate this lack of spiritual life to the subject of robotic souls, and their potential for both 'life' and more than that.."spiritual life". What I was interested in trying to point out is that Jesus terms people without 'spiritual life', as "dead".(ie. spiritually dead"..but still dead. Also, I can't see in any way how terming something dead, even though it is still phisically alive, can be considered in any sort of positive any way. If Jesus is saying, Go..."preach the Kingdom of God", it is for the sake of bringing 'the spiritually dead'..to 'spiritual life'...not just life, which they already have. The important part then is the 'spiritual' part, in these definitions. Relating this to Robots, I was just trying to make a comparison to 'spiritually dead' persons and obviously spiritually dead robots. If, therefore, it takes the preaching of the Kingdom of God to raise a soul to spiritual life, as Jesus insinuates, then, no Robot will acquire this without the comprehension of the "Word of God" and to the level that the Lord requires. (ie.."..pray that you might be held worthy to stand before the Son of Man.") If he can do this, then yes, He will be truly alive.. Robot or no robot. However, I think only humans and angels have such potential.

Tim J.

I've wondered - really wondered - if there are sometimes people born without a conscience, just like there might be those born without a limb or without eyes or a brain.

Moral monsters.

But this is a question only God could answer, and one we should truly not even ask, especially in regard to any real individual.

I sometimes see things in the "papers" that make me wonder, though.

Monica

Tim, ever see The Bad Seed? It's a creepy movie about a little girl born with no conscience.

Labrialumn


What is the substrate required for consciousness? The arguments against AIs - should they ever exist - sound strikingly like the arguments for enslaving the blacks and the central American indians.

I'm thinking we may need better-formulated principles.

Realist, these test-tubers were called "tanks" on Space:Above and Beyond, and the question of their rights, as well as those of the "silicates" were big issues on that show.

Alexander, Calvinists and, if I'm not mistaken, Thomists and Augustinians deny -human- free will.

A. Williams, don't confuse the metaphor of dead as in "doomed to die" or "dead meat" with actual, ontological death. Calvinists make that mistake.

An AI which cannot be distinguished from its responses from a human being could a) have been given a soul by God, b) be possessed of a demon, c) be a very elaborate form of the old ELIZA program.

But if you can't tell the difference, should not the benefit of the doubt be given? OR were (some of) the conquistadors and Southern slavers right to regard their slaves as submen?

Esau

The arguments against AIs - should they ever exist - sound strikingly like the arguments for enslaving the blacks and the central American indians.

Oh brother!

Alexander, Calvinists and, if I'm not mistaken, Thomists and Augustinians deny -human- free will.

Double Oh brother!

An AI which cannot be distinguished from its responses from a human being could a) have been given a soul by God, b) be possessed of a demon, c) be a very elaborate form of the old ELIZA program.

Triple Oh brother!


Really, now, what planet did you come from?

(There, now that, my friend is an insult. I don't believe Tim J.'s post to you wasn't as harsh.)

Esau

Nix that, I don't believe that Tim J.'s post to you was insulting and violated the blog rules as you claim he did.

Esau

Labrialumn:

To end -

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Esau

But if you can't tell the difference, should not the benefit of the doubt be given? OR were (some of) the conquistadors and Southern slavers right to regard their slaves as submen?


REALLY NOW???

DJ

Maybe I'm missing something in the conversation (were some posts deleted?) But I don't think Labrialumn's comment (which I've pondered myself many times)..

An AI which cannot be distinguished from its responses from a human being could a) have been given a soul by God, b) be possessed of a demon, c) be a very elaborate form of the old ELIZA program.

was so bad...

now statement about Thomists and Augustinians was...

Dean Steinlage

What about something like David Brin's Uplift series, where animals (chimps and dolphins) were genetically modified for a human level intelligence.
Hopefully with better spelling than I have also.

Esau

DJ:

Did you read his entire post???

Here's an extract:

What is the substrate required for consciousness? The arguments against AIs - should they ever exist - sound strikingly like the arguments for enslaving the blacks and the central American indians.

-- and --

An AI which cannot be distinguished from its responses from a human being could a) have been given a soul by God, b) be possessed of a demon, c) be a very elaborate form of the old ELIZA program.

But if you can't tell the difference, should not the benefit of the doubt be given? OR were (some of) the conquistadors and Southern slavers right to regard their slaves as submen?

How can anyone equate the situation with sophisticated AI systems to that of the slaves? Not only is this ridiculous but racially offensive since you're putting machines on par with slaves, who are actually members of the human race and, thus, deserve to be regarded with human dignity!

You mean to tell me that sophisticated AI units should be regarded with the same human dignity as members of the human race simply because their actions, to the delusional few, appear indistinguishable from those of humans?

A. Williams

"And Jesus being come out of the temple, went away. And his disciples came to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And he answering, said to them: Do you see all these things? Amen I say to you there shall not be left here a stone upon a stone that shall not be destroyed".

So with all the works of men. And arn't intelligent robots just sophisticated works of men, building blocks just as impressive as the Temple of old but repackaged for our modern time?? Jesus wan't impressed with such technology, obviously not the tower of Babel, nor the Temple built by Herod... nor any other work of man. Intelligent Robots are just another example of man's attempt to do something somewhat divine, which from this quote above appears that no matter how interesting, will never compare to the glorious creation of Nature itself. This is the Lord's work. We can only tinker.

Esau

Thanks, A. Williams, for the sanity check!

Can you imagine???
I guess Jesus died for 'dem robots, too!

Esau

Not to sound Protestant, but does anybody know how to say, "Do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord & Saviour" in machine language?

BlackSun

You guys all need to read your Kurzweil.

StubbleSpark

Anthony Rizzi put AI in its place when he said no matter how intelligent the program it is still ARTIFICIAL.

And that is fundamentally what is at issue here. One of the most devastating effects of the Great Endarkening is the superstitious belief that science will save us. Science is nothing more than a collection of quantifiable data based on experiments that are designed to create an expected result.

But science cannot possibly encompass the entire scope of human existence. By definition it cannot quantify the unquantifiable (ie, how much love is there between a given man and woman) nor can it make qualitative evaluations (ie, is loving a monkey better than loving your neighbor).

In fact, even the full observational powers of mankind cannot fully take in all aspects of existence. It is because we realized through Thomistic metaphysics that there is more beyond the five senses, emotions, and intellect that we began to use science in the first place.

And now to use that same tool as a philosophical cudgel to try to once again LIMIT the scope of human existence is dangerous, wrong, and oh so backward.

Ironic that those who cry the loudest about the advantages of a purely "rational" and "scientific" existence (the evangelical atheists) are the same people who are the least advanced in terms of human understanding.

If their narrow understanding of humanness were true, then of course machines would deserve human rights. Humans are nothing more than squishy machines to them anyway.

But if they think that by advocating human rights for toasters, that they may be doing something noble in freeing the toaster from fleshling oppression, then they are gravely mistaken. Giving universal rights to toasters will only result in the greater enslavement of man to toasters -- not in toaster liberation.

What about its freedom could a toaster possibly enjoy?

Unfortunately because the advocates of toaster-totalitarianism utterly deny free will in their mechanical understanding of humanity, they will not even begin to argue the question of whether a liberated toaster would prefer to toast bread according to the purpose for which it was made or if it would rather not toast bread because serving man would be too much of a burden.

No, the followers of scientism draw the line delineating the full scope of human existence long before desire.

I for one, refuse to assumed into the collective.

StubbleSpark

"You guys all need to read your Kurzweil."

If you think god-created man can live wholly in the confines of a man-created machine, then you are welcome to blossom into the bobblehead doll you always believed you could become.

The point is: your soul is a supernatural phenomenon and any process wherein you attempt to change it into something purely natural, you will lose the most important part.

Kurzweil is quaint (in a Lex Luthor kind of way) he strikes me as the kind of person who thinks Lawnmower Man and Matrix are religious experiences. His little theory displays an incredible faith not only in the belief that one day science (quantifiable data) will conquer all limitations but also the amazing naivete that of course all things done by scientists in the name of "progress" is righteous. You know,

In a universe where planets and electrons fly in purposeful, fixed orbits can we assume that some things were MEANT to be? Or should we take the brave scientist's view that eventually everything can and should be violated?

The victims of scientism all believe the ability to do a thing is the same thing as license to do it. Free will has nothing to do with it. There is no natural order to be guilty of overthrowing in the first place. Power and will are all that we need to make progress.

And we all know, progress is inherently good. Especially when the witchdoctor in the white labcoat is the one leading the way.

Sheesh.

I find it oddly fitting then that so many of these evangelical atheists and believers in scientism eventually end up in the ideological pit of Gnosticism where they become convinced there is no real world except that which is in their heads.

The nice thing about Catholicism is that it saves you from the tyranny of self by taking your tiny limited faculties out of the center of the universe.

This whole argument shows the importance of ideologies. It is almost as if, in believing in a purely quantifiable, limited and purely natural (not supernatural) existence that the believers of scientism virtually hand over their souls.

Or hand over their virtual souls ... Mwa ha ha ha ha! I made a funny.

Kreeft said the reason God is as hidden as he is is because he requires humility to see Him. By being so presumptuous as to believe ourselves gods, the scientism-ist ensures he will never see the true center.

He may in fact one day achieve his precious godhood, but any godhood the likes Kurzweil can dream up is kind of a cruddy little god.

Admiral Ackbar

And now to use that same tool as a philosophical cudgel to try to once again LIMIT the scope of human existence is dangerous, wrong, and oh so backward.

I haven't read all of the comments so I'm sure it's already been said - but this is precisely why giving rights to anything other than humans is so attractive to humanists. Since humans are merely a sophisticated animal that has evolved without a creator, rights can only be a construct of man to begin with. We can hand them out as we so choose. Think animal rights. Giving animals, machines, or whatever "rights" is an extension of atheistic humanism, and is being promulgated regardless of morality or logic.

Tim J.

"Nix that, I don't believe that Tim J.'s post to you was insulting and violated the blog rules as you claim he did."

Did I miss something? Did I insult somebody without knowing it? It could happen.

francis

Jimmy,

society will not in the foreseeable future be stupid enough...

Never underestimate how stupid our society can become (have you seen reality shows lately?).

A. Williams

I think with a topic such as robotic intelligence there needs to be debate argued from within one's own belief system, wherein an athiest will obviously have a highly different argument or opinion than a follower of Christ. Athiest's prefer their own limited logic for their guide, whereas Christians use, and believe in an inspired "Teacher" from GOD. According to Christians, Christ came to reveal "secrets hidden since the foundation of the world", some of which secrets being the true nature GOD as LOVE, and the nature of our own souls potential as possessors of GOD and LOVE. Many profound questions can be posed by episodes of'Battlestar Gallactica' or 'Star Trek',such mysteries and questions that even the greatest of the philosophers, prophets and wise men through the centuries have long pondered and theorized. However, for Christans, the answer's will never be found with pagan or atheistic logic, philosophy, deduction or scenarios. Even St.Paul knew better than to go with this useless and time wasting route. He didn't waste his time because these philosophers have only the questions, but no substantial answers. Hence, Christian's go to Christ, because, herein are found the answers: and one answer taught by Christ, is that to fully participate in the Life of God we need the assisitance of THE GRACE, WISDOM, KNOWELEDGE and GIFTS of the HOLY SPIRIT through Jesus Christ. Now, relating to robots?? It's not hard to speculate that a Robot will NEVER be authorized to be baptized by the Holy See of the Catholic Church. Therefore it is the Catholic Church who will define the truth that NO ROBOT, however intelligent,cunning,apparently loving and spiritual, cuddly or convincing, will ever possess true life. Just as we don't baptize dogs, legitimate beings's created by God, how much less could we think about baptizing a .....robot?? These are only the time wasting fantasies of the faithless...but entertaining none the less.

Aumgn

'Anthony Rizzi put AI in its place when he said no matter how intelligent the program it is still ARTIFICIAL.' (Stubblespark, above).

'Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both the servants of his providence. Art is the perfection of nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world, and art another. In brief, all things are artificial; for nature is the art of God.'
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici. Sec.16

Marty

I taught a course many (about 20) years ago that I could refer to as "Computers For Poets". It covered some basic computer skills, including some programing (in Pascal), and also touched on the ideas and issues of AI. We covered the Turing Test, on which the students wrote an essay. I marveled that in all the times I taught the course, I read nothing really new, interesting, or imaginative. I was tempted to propose an "inverse Turing Test" that would look something like this: "If a student writes an essay that cannot be distinguished from a machine-generated regurgitation of what he has been fed, then the student is a machine." A bit cruel, I know.

I have since decided that teaching and studying AI tend to have a soul-shrinking effect on the student and the researcher.

Marty

By the way, it's probably already worse than the pessimists think: http://www.newscientisttech.com/channel/tech/mg18624963.700.html

StubbleSpark

Aumgn,

Tolkein clarifies. He makes the all-important qualitative distinction between Creation, as a product of an all-knowing all-loving God and SUB-creation as the product of man working in imitation of God.

It's been said a hundred times on this post: those who advocate robot rights are logically incapable of making qualitative distinctions. One creation is as good as the other.

All in all, I would say the sub-created Aragorn in Tolkein's writing has more soul than any imitation some techie makes in his lab. And still we do not baptize copies of Lord of the Rings.

How hard do you have to train a monkey before it becomes a frog? I mean, not just look like a frog and act like a frog but actually ceases to have any semblance of monkey-nature and has only genuine frog-nature?

How much training, how many tricks, how much technology will you have to throw at this problem before you succeed in creating a frog from a monkey? (Keep in mind the goal is not to create a creature of a higher order from a creature of a lower order but to just change the nature of a creature without going up to a higher order.)

Even if you could succeed (I am granting this just to humor the robot-rights crowd) so what?

It is not the creation of a frog ex-nihlio the way God creates. And it would certainly be much easier to just make a frog from other frogs. So what would be the point?

Are these the types of pointless exercises that give your life meaning? All mathematicians and physicists know that nature will not abide such a colossal waste of energy. So what does such an accomplishment mean in the end?

Most people with half an IQ point know a much easier way to create organisms that undeniably should be granted human rights.

And our way (ahem, HIS way) is a LOT more fun.

Enjoy your monkey wrench, fool. I'm getting a wife.

Esau

Did I miss something? Did I insult somebody without knowing it? It could happen.

Tim J:

In the thread "Shooting Down Hijacked Planes",

Labrialumn said:

Oh, and Tim, aren't you violating the blog rules with your insults?

A. Williams

Another moral question might be: How sacriligious would it be for one just to ATTEMPT to artificially create a living, human soul? Even if it isn't capable of being done? As was the case with the 'Tower of Babel', there is certainly great sin....which was the very reason Babel was destroyed and mankind recieved a just punishment. Nebecanezer also recieved 7 years of insanity for a similar offence.

StubbleSpark

I think one of the strengths of adhering to a traditional religion is you have enough of a historical context to not take it for granted that a civilization will implode and disappear with all (or most or much) its technology and wisdom.

Stable religions tend to outlive civilizations and acquire in the process cautionary tales and prophecies of doom that help their adherents deal with future catastrophes and challenges. This is not just true of Catholicism, but also of Judaism and Buddhism as well (Islam, however, seems to be more of a perpetual apocalypse machine).

This is something secularists, with all their supposed love of knowledge, seem to be unable to glean from history. They always take it for granted that we will continually get better and better. People like Kurzweil are incapable of taking into account the probability that we may all be living in caves tomorrow.

Information and technology, being natural creations are not eternal. Though wonderful additions to our lives, we cannot put our faith in these.

Matt

Whenever I've thought of the Singularity and AI I can't help but think of Adam and Eve:

God prohibits eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, along comes the Serpent and gets Eve to eat and then she gets Adam to eat. When God confronts the trio Adam says: "Yeah, I ate, but Eve tempted me." Eve says: "Yeah I ate and tempted Adam, but the Serpent tempted me." And the Serpent says: "Yeah, I tempted her, but Satan is possesing me." None of them admit that eating the fruit (and tempting others to eat) was an act they did, they each were irresponsible and blamed someone else for their failings.

Having machines think for ourselves (weather they can really think or not) is irresponsible. Once we start we won't be able to think anymore.

Then there's the trio's punishment. God introduces pain and suffering into the lives of Adam and Eve and all their progeny, not specifically because of disobedience, but because knowledge was involved. Knowledge is power and power corrupts unless tempered by wisdom and you gain wisdom through suffering.

So a robot with a real consciousness would be corupt almost by definition.

I also wonder why we would want AI. What benefit is there? Is thinking too hard for modern man? But then I realized this is the post-secular era: they no longer believe it's a material universe, but rather that everything is binary code in a gigantic computer.

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