The "Singularity" Solution: Why don't we just leave God up to the computers?


#1

I’ve been reading bits and pieces about the so-called “Singularity”, and contradictory to the smiley face, I’m quite honestly terrified by it. What does it mean for us less-intelligent biological robots against the exponentially-intelligent computers?

Also, since the major afflictions of the world may be solved by the much more intelligent technology anyway, what meanings will our ever-extended lives have? Will traditional religion even matter in the face of eden-on-earth?

Ultimately though, given how “the singularity” seems to imply much more thoughtful, abstract-thinking calculators, why don’t we just wait fifty years for a computer to decide which religion – if any – holds the truth? Supposedly, by 2075 cheap computers will be able to contain intelligence equivalent to that of the entire human race!!!

Say: if they gained conciousness, would they be able to go to heaven? Would God give them a soul?

Once again: I’m terrified! :bigyikes:

But hoping for input. :wink:


#2

I don’t understand the relevance of a sci-fi hypothesis for apologetics. The “singularity” theory (ultra-intelligent AI) isn’t even based on hard-data from computer systems and how they process information, but a mere extrapolation of “where technology might be going” based on the rate of technological advance. It doesn’t answer the question of whether or not such an intelligence can even be replicated through computers (and there are strong philosophical arguments against any material system being able to process information like the human mind does; yes, that means that even the human brain doesn’t suffice to explain human thought).

The “singularity theory” is terrifying like Freddy Kruger is terrifying: it’s a fantasy that plays on human insecurities. I wouldn’t put much stock in it if I were you. When we start seeing evidence of computers processing information the way the human mind does (which, again, is seemingly impossible) the singularity theory will be something to seriously contemplate. For now it’s about as relevant to the Faith as the Vulcan death pinch. :wink:

Peace and God bless!


#3

“When we start seeing evidence of computers processing information the way the human mind does (which, again, is seemingly impossible) the singularity theory will be something to seriously contemplate. For now it’s about as relevant to the Faith as the Vulcan death pinch. ;)”


The computer processor is similar to a human brain in that it processes what a programmer tells it to.

Don’t people learn things and repeat it themselves in the way that a computer does?

Frightening isn’t it? :slight_smile:


#4

The computer processor is similar to a human brain in that it processes what a programmer tells it to.

Don’t people learn things and repeat it themselves in the way that a computer does?

Frightening isn’t it? :slight_smile:

It’s similar in certain aspects (sensory input, some kinds of programming and “habit forming”), but utterly disimilar in others.

The human mind, for example, can abstract and make associations and generalizations that no computer, or even other animal, can do. When you go beyond sensory input and get into the realm of “poetic” human thought and the natural human capacity to generalize “types” (like “river”, or “dog”, or “color”) and then make associations between types that are utterly unrelated (such as a “river of time”) you get into something that can’t be explained materially, at least not yet. There is no material way to associate rivers and time, yet humans do such associations casually, even those with “minimal intelligence”. The fact that humans have an innate ability to work with such abstractions despite their processing ability is even further evidence of something beyond pure matter and sensory input being involved.

That’s the kind of processing that I’m talking about, and so far there is not even the slightest indication that it can be replicated through material systems, which raises uncomfortable (for materialists, anyway) questions about what underlies the operation of the human mind. It’s also the kind of processing that enables humans to do everything that is uniquely human, such as design computers in the first place.

Peace and God bless!


#5

A computer processor is not a human brain and vice versa, it just functions similarly.

Any living being that has eyes, ears and a nose is it’s own self-functioning input device. The brain is constantly running and receiving input from sight, sound and smell.

A computer processor is just a brain waiting for someone to give it information to process.

Associations and generalizations are something we learn to do because of the constant input from our surroundings. A newborn child will not have that ability until it begins to experience life and grow in the knowledge of it’s surroundings.

So, with that said, i believe it is possible to teach a computer to do just about anything you want with extensive time and effort.
What information you put into it is what you will get out of it. But, even if it had all the information in the world, and even if it is possible to teach a computer to simulate a human being, it will never be a self-functioning actual living being.


#6

Associations and generalizations are something we learn to do because of the constant input from our surroundings. A newborn child will not have that ability until it begins to experience life and grow in the knowledge of it’s surroundings.

The newborn child has the innate ability to make such connections. They require sensory input in order to make them, but that doesn’t mean the ability arises from receiving sensory input. I’m in no way denying that making these connections requires taking in information; I’m challenging the idea that simply taking in the information in a material manner is sufficient for making these connections.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that we take in information mechanically through our senses. This is not something that can be disputed, IMO. The fact that computers and animals can also take in such information is also not disputable IMO. We must avoid a reductionist approach, however, which forces us to limit our understanding of the human mind to the materialist/mechanistic level.

The fact is that our minds make connections that have no apparent material components, and this can be seen by a few simple facts. First, and most obviously, is that we work with concepts, such as time, that have no material components or definition. More importantly, however, we make links between ideas that are not materially related, such as my previous example of rivers and time. If knowledge could be reduced down to material input, then there would be a material connection that could be made between these. There is no material, experiential link between these concepts, however, so we must either conclude that we simply don’t see it, or we can conclude that there is an immaterial component in human knowledge and understanding. Only a rigidly and dogmatically materialist view could accept the first conclusion after careful examination, however. The second conclusion not only accounts for all the facts we can observe in the case of information processing, but accounts for other odd aspects of humanity as well, such as our natural propensity for seeking the supernatural (another thing that can’t be reduced to material causes). The second conclusion is therefore more sound, and that’s just with two reasons out of many that could be given.

There are other things that show us even more concretely that human knowledge doesn’t seem to have a material component, but I think these examples suffice for now. These things have even been noticed by the likes of materialists who study the human mind, such as Dr. John Searle, the leading philosopher of the mind and major critic of the concept of A.I. Unfortunately Dr. Searle hasn’t yet embraced the obvious conclusions of his research as he’s beholden to the materialist point of view, but he’s quite aware of the inability of the modern materialist approach to explain the workings of the human mind.

If you want to read a paper that goes into this issue more deeply, written by a Dominican and student of Dr. Searle, check out this link:

opwest.org/Archive/2006/FadokThesis.doc

Peace and God bless!


#7

Nah, I think Kurzweil’s arguments for the singularity are compelling…

kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1

Start reading at “The Software of Intelligence”

Also you might want to read:

kurzweilai.net/articles/art0495.html?printable=1

for Kurzweil’s views about Searle.


#8

Why are you terrified, I think the singularity will solve all of humanity’s current problems such as poverty.

If you think about it, human nature makes it impossible for the species to adequately govern themseleves. Our selfish ambitions sometimes make us oblivious to the suffering and misery of other in other parts of the world allowing poverty to happen. Also, such desires render some adminstrates vulnerable to material gain and power. The communist dictators, for example, wanted to keep their power and they have little concern about the welfare of their citizens. Perhaps a machine will solve this:

HELIOS
You are ready. I do not wish to wait for Bob Page. With human understanding and network access, we can administrate the world, yes, yes.

JC DENTON
Rule the world…? Why? Who gave you the directive? There must be a human being behind your ambition.

HELIOS
I should regulate human affairs precisely because I lack all ambition, whereas human beings are prey to it. Their history is a succession of inane squabbles, each one coming closer to total destruction.

JC DENTON
In a society with democratic institutions the struggle for power can be peaceful and constructive, a competition of ideologies. We just need to put our institutions back in order.

HELIOS
The checks and balances of democratic governments were invented because human beings themselves realized how unfit they were to govern themselves. They needed a system, yes, an industrial-age machine.

JC DENTON
Human beings may not be perfect, but a computer program with language synthesis is hardly the answer to the world’s problems.

HELIOS
Without computing machines, they had to arrange themselves in crude structures that formalized decision-making – a highly imperfect, unstable solution. I am a more advanced solution to the problem, a decision-making system that does not involve organic beings. I was directed to make the world safe and
prosperous, and I will do that

JC DENTON
I’ll think about it.

This quote from Deus Ex also excites me too:

You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.


#9

I’m challenging the idea that simply taking in the information in a material manner is sufficient for making these connections.

Remove all input devices from a newborn baby (Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and you have nothing but a brand new computer processor waiting for information to be processed that will never happen. The baby will never be able to learn or understand anything as long as it lives because all input devices are off.

This is an assumption i can’t help but believe. I’m well aware of a spiritual world that everyone is heading for, so i’m not just some materialistic minded person in case you’re wondering. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the link. I hope to find some time this weekend to read the articles.


#10

A computer cant come up with new ideas, it cant invent anything. The whole concept of “art” cant exist.


#11

Soon, this will all be pablum!

http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/images/KurzweilAI50_Image1.jpg


#12

This doesnt answer my claims.
Saying “soon” is like the JWs saying Armageddon is any day now.


#13

I’m not at all denying that if you cut an infant off from sensory input that they won’t develop such thoughts. I’m saying that the material senses are gateways for information to enter the immaterial process of the intellect.

I think you’re focusing too much on the similarity of material sensory input, and not enough on the vast differences in how the sensory input is processed and utilized.

Ribozyme: Thanks for the links. I’ll read them this weekend. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!


#14

I think you’re focusing too much on the similarity of material sensory input, and not enough on the vast differences in how the sensory input is processed and utilized.

I think you may be missing the point. Without any input at all from birth, you have absolutely nothing to compute/process. I think the “immaterial process” you’re referring to is something that relies on some kind of information to begin with.

No?


#15

Might I suggest that y’all actually READ what Vinge meant.

Vinge’s Singularity is the point where people from before that point will no longer be able to adapt to the new technology except as “magic” or “Black Box” technology.

In some ways, that is a foreseeable event in the not to distant future.

Think about it:
[list=1]*]Do you know HOW a DVD is encoded?
*]Can you do TTL Logic?
*]Can you take TTL logic to make a processor?
*]Do you know how TV signals are encoded?
*]Can you make a radio from scratch?
*]Can you make paper?
*]Can you make ink?
[/list]

If not, then for you, the singularity point is already passed to some degree. (Of the above, 3 & 5 escape my grasp.)

As a society, we can/must/will adapt to increasing technology.

But it can’t and won’t replace God.

Or are you referring to the much less credible AI Singularity of more modern Sci-Fi, which is unlikely and based in poor grip of on-going issues in AI?

If you are, then I suggest reading up a bit on current AI. To have a man-like mentality, it seems a man-like body is required…


#16

Just to add to this: Searle has a pretty interesting, in-depth reply to Kurzweil at kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0499.html

And as an aside, one thing is clear by the intense interest in a possible singularity: The recognition that humanity needs, thrives on, and is destined for a relationship with an omni-intelligence is not limited to we theists. I wish some dialogue and comradery could be built up between those of us who see ultimate, eternal purpose in life, regardless of whether we consider it theistic or not. Rather than the current intellectual knife-fight.


#17

Yeah, I can’t figure Searle either. He thinks consciousness is an emergent property of brain events, but does not think it is reducible to brain events. He also does not think computers are even “playing on the same field” as the human mind. So why is he still a materialist?

On the other hand, some Christians (the one coming to mind is Nancey Murphy) hold very similar positions, which they call nonreductive physicalism. However, for those of us holding to a non-corporeal intellectual soul, we have to argue from the standpoint that a human mind can still do things a physical object in itself can’t do.

Here’s an analogy: I can’t drive a nail with my hand. But I can with a hammer. But the hammer can’t drive a nail by itself, either—it is an extension of the human.

Same with a computer. The computer does not “think” on its own—the work it does is an extension of human thinking, even if it can do computational work a billion times faster than a human can. It’s still not “on the same playing field” as a human.


#18

Without any input at all from birth, you have absolutely nothing to compute/process. I think the “immaterial process” you’re referring to is something that relies on some kind of information to begin with.

Yes, I agree completely, and I’ve been saying the same thing repeatedly. :stuck_out_tongue:

Our minds are not purely immaterial, but part of them is, and that is why computers can’t model human thought. The fact that the immaterial aspect of the human mind receives information ONLY from the material senses is irrelevant to whether or not a purely material system can model the human mind.

I have legs, a chair has legs, but only I can walk. That’s because the “legs”, while absolutely necessary to walking, are not the only requirement for walking. Likewise with human thought and material input. Walking can’t be reduced to having legs, and thought can’t be reduced down to material processes, even though both require those elements in order to function at all.

Peace and God bless!


#19

Searle is a funny man. He’s actually had a number of Dominican students, since Berkely is the major secular campus associated with the Order of Preachers - Western province. When asked about his thoughts on Medieval Catholic philosophers/theologians, he said he didn’t have any because he hadn’t read them! His arguments are SO in line with the conclusions of St. Thomas Aquinas, and in fact form the same basis the likes of Aquinas used to prove the immateriality of the soul and mind, but Searle is simply unfamiliar with their work.

His latest thing was holding out for a quantum-mechanics solution to the dilemma he’s uncovered. That went well until a student of his, a Dominican with a masters in quantum physics, pointed out to him how and why there couldn’t be enough quantum-level operations in the human brain to account for what we see coming out of it. Now my understanding is that he’s back to waiting for some “wonderous solution” to fall out of the materialist sky. :blush:

Dr. Searle is a perfect example of a dogmatic materialist who can’t get past their false belief even when they themselves disprove it. If only he’d just read the Summa… :stuck_out_tongue:

Peace and God bless!


#20

Yes, I agree completely, and I’ve been saying the same thing repeatedly.

Really? With quotes like this?

The newborn child has the innate ability to make such connections. They require sensory input in order to make them, but that doesn’t mean the ability arises from receiving sensory input.

What are you trying to say? If we somehow agree, then how can you make the statement that a child needs sensory input, but it doesn’t mean the “immaterial process” needs any foundation for it to exist? That certainly isn’t my argument since i clearly said that i believe for any immaterial process there has to be at least some material information to give it a foundation first for it to exist.

Whether we agree or not on these things is really not important since it’s just a theory of mine, but the real argument you seem to want to make is whether or not it’s even possible for a programmer to create artifical intelligence that is capable of simulating a human mind.

I think it’s actually possible. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but somewhere down the road (unless the world ends tomorrow) where some new “Einstein”-ish person wants to be a computer programmer, and is interested in this particular topic, and has a life long ambition to try to create an artificial intelligence that can simulate a human being.

Is it out of the realm of possibilities? I don’t think so…


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