On being a machine

An interesting article about the future of technology. Ray Kurzweil sees a world in which we merge with machines (the Singularity). According to Kurzweil we should not fear merging as it will enhance rather than destroy what it means to be human. For example the coming together of man and machine will enhance intelligence (note, according to Kurzweil there is no distinction between artificial and human intelligence). Kurzweil forsees a world in which the distinction between “virtual” and “real” reality will disappear. We will be able to experience reality as experienced by historical personages or sit on a fence and watch the goings on in Roman times.
There is a lot in the interview to arouse the interest of the layman with an interest in technology such as myself. However I would take issue with Kurzweil’s view that artificial intelligence is, in essence the same as human intelligence. I, as a human respond to poetry both on an emotional level and an intellectual one. For instance I feel the sadness in Dowson’s “They are not Long the weeping and the laughter”, something deep inside responds to the poet’s message that life is brief, that our joys and sorrows are fleeting things which will all pass away. On the intellectual level I comprehend Dowson’s meaning that all is impermanent, that nothing lasts. Here the emotional and the intellectual are interlinked, it is difficult to separate one from the other. I can imagine a machine which could, by clever programming explain the meaning of the above poem and why it is profoundly moving and beautiful, however to go one step further and to postulate that said artificial intelligence really understands and feels the poem is a very different matter.
For the article please visit http://www.kurzweilai.net/katalyst-vs-singularity?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=08623e59f3-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email

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About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at shiftmail.com (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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7 Responses to On being a machine

  1. Ian Moone says:

    In 25 years you may be proved right

    • Proved right about what? That machines can not be “intelligent” in the same manner as humans can? Thanks for your comment, Kevin

      • Ian Moone says:

        About AI understanding poetry and responding on an emotional level, We will teach them that I bet you. I think that the basis of the turing test is no one can tell the difference, which I find very intresting.

      • Many thanks for your comment Ian. I agree with you that the concept of the Turing Test is very interesting. However even if a machine does, eventually pass the Turing Test one could argue that said computer is only able to achieve this feat by dint of clever programming by it’s human programmers, therefore it is not truly intelligent. If one could develop machines which learn (and understand) of their own volition (I.E. without the necessity of human intervention) then, perhaps we would be approaching real artificial intelligence. However for this to happen we would need to understand the complex factors which make up human intelligence. These are comprised of humans interactions with their environments, genetics, the myriad and differing experiences of individuals etc. All of these factors help to explain intelligence and interact with one another to produce it. There is still much debate between those who postulate that genetics is the primary factor in explaining intelligence and their opponents who believe that environmental factors are key so we don’t yet understand what that nebulous concept we label intelligence is. We have humans who are able to real off facts and figures due to their amazing capacity to remember data, however I wouldn’t construe this as constituting intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to understand and utilise the information with which we are presented and from my admittedly layman’s perspective machines remain profoundly stupid in this regard. Best regards, Kevin

  2. Abandon TV says:

    Transhumanism is being massively promoted by corporate mass entertainments, which I think is telling. Young people are being most heavily targeted, unsurprisingly.

    Here are a couple of interesting articles on the subject.

    The Transhumanist and Police State Agenda in Pop Music
    Imma Bee The Future: Selling Transhumanism to the Masses Using Psychological Warfare

    And a good documentary exploring the technological possibilities..


    The ‘transhuman promise’ (the sales pitch, if you like) is of an ‘enhanced’ world where we will become super human beings and life will be as cool as a computer game. Sounds great! (if you’re into that sort of thing). However, in the near future RFID implantable microchips are going to be the first destination for the transhumanism love bus. Perhaps you can see now why so much propaganda is currently being used to sell the idea that merging technology with human flesh is going to be great for us.

    Proponents of transhumanism always skirt over the down to earth reality that high technology is always owned (and thus controlled) by someone else – usually some giant faceless corporation, often having some kind of affiliation to the so called ‘military industrial complex’.

    • Abandon TV says:

      Oops, sorry for the wonky link for that video, just copy and paste it.

    • Thank you for your thoughts and the links on Transhumanism. I’ll take a look. Transhumanism is not a uniform belief system. Anarcho-Capitalists such as those associated with the UK Libertarian Alliance are, on the whole sympathetic towards the doctrines of Transhumanism. On the other hand there are also left-wing Transhumanists who believe that the state/society should fund human enhancements to avoid growing inequalities in society. You also have a variety of other Transhumanist positions. Whether one is (broadly speaking) in favour of Transhumanism or not, I don’t believe that there is any conspiracy at work to turn us all into cyborgs.

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