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08 December 2007



More, more, more! I have read Ray Kurzweil book, to the best of my ability, but welcome a helping hand in understanding some of the more complex issues. Someday we will leave this planet and move on to explore the universe, but we are limited by the ability of our bodies to withstand the riggers so we must evolve to a new species. The time may be upon us, let's explore our options.


I see no reason to lump "intelligence" in a simple metric nor to make such the end-all-be-all of what determines things.

computer intelligence is derivative of human intelligence and achieves its goals via the accumulation of many insights by human researchers/programmers, at the expense of a singularity in focus.

Even if the internet is in fact more complicated than a human brain, it is many degrees less complicated than the network of human brains that produced the internet.


George Rebane

Good points dlw. I would agree that it is *likely* that at some starting point "computer intelligence is derivative of human intelligence". But soon thereafter, we don't know what derivatives will contribute to the then rapid evolution of machine intelligence. And if from the gitgo the Singularity AI does not derive from human intelligence - because, after all, we're just providing components to an unknown complex system - then all bets are off a lot sooner.

As to your second point, any existing "network of human brains" is still not as integrated as the potential of the Internet, if not of today, then of tomorrow. In short, the machine will have an easier time of enjoying the benefits of 2+2=5. We shall see.


Wait a minute. Do you really think intelligence and will are the same thing?

George Rebane

Sorry Megan, not sure where you got that apples and oranges comparison.


How can a computer make choices without will?


"It will then know everything about us and will be able to control everything that we control through such a worldwide communication and control fabric. In this event, I’m not sure that it will even have to offer us terms, but I sincerely hope it will see that we may be of some use."
Just because a computer has knowledge doesn't mean it can choose what to do with it, right? Why would a computer want to control us? How can a computer want? I don't understand how an inanimate object can move from a collection of information to a being that has desires, motivation and the will to act independently.

George Rebane

Megan, good questions. Computers have been making choices for almost 70 years. It's all part and parcel of having a utility function and an optimization routine that seeks to find solutions that maximize utility. Since then computers have 'evolved' to accept evolutionary programming that allows the computer to interact with its environment in unheard of ways in which complex behaviors emerge that were totally unanticipated.

In this manner computers have been able to behave (compete, fight, flee, ...) in ways that allow them to survive in very complex environments. And computers can learn from their experiences to be able to do even more things to better survive the next time around. Their complexity (power) is growing daily, and inducing (programming) them to value survival is a fairly easy thing to do. From there you can see how the 'will' to execute certain behaviors will emerge.

And don't think that these are simple one shot stimulus/response behaviors. They can be contingency based sequences of behaviors allowing the machines to navigate successfully through very complex situations. Remember, computers already can plan and control better than humans.

Perhaps you may want to read one of the many books written on the Singularity. Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near is already a classic.


OK, but what could a computer possibly do to hurt us? Erase all the fake money? That's going to happen with or without machine people. If a computer wants to survive it's going to have to find a way to control other inanimate objects. I just don't see how that can happen.

George Rebane

How about controlling us so that we won't 'unplug' it? We don't know what computers will do when they (it?) achieves peer intelligence. That's why the event is called the Singularity - in science and math singularities are places, events, critical values at which undefined things happen. No on knows what course human history and evolution will take once we're no longer the smartest critters on the planet.


This is a lot to think about. I'll have to add Kurzweil to my reading list.


I had a couple thoughts in my sleep. Isn't the evolutionary process pretty dicey? Supposedly, we and every other living thing came from amoebas. We outsmarted extinction through brains, but houseflies just reproduce like mad. Who's to say this super computer won't eschew all its knowledge and turn into a cloud of gnats?
Or maybe the Singularity has already happened. In a couple weeks I'm going to take my morning sickness and my four kids ages 2-8 on a 12 hour trek to WY without my Honey. I'm slightly nervous about the truck, but I'm completely confident in my kids, partly because they're extraordinary little people and partly because of Baby Heroin (aka a dual screen, portable dvd player and 4 or 5 new dvd's). I usually give my kids about 2 hours of screen time a month, so I know that the toughest 6 hours of the drive will be no problem for them - they'll be zombies.
Imagine a public-school-educated mom who spent her academic career being trained as a zombie. She sees no problem with 6 hours a day of screen time for her precious little ones, esp. since it means she doesn't have to deal with the chaos and annoyance of having kids in the house. Mom and Dad both spend their days working to feed the computer, the TV, the Game Boy etc., and the kids spend their days learning to be zombies and worshiping at the Zombie Altar. We're already enslaved.
Have you tried to spend time with a typical 16-year-old girl lately? Don't bother. I tried several times last year and I finally gave up. So far as I could tell there was no human being left in that little package - just a texting robot. As I said, we're already enslaved.
And I still want to know what spot creation is :)

George Rebane

Thanks for the share Megan - yes, I know a little about today's teenagers, I have five grandkids in that hormone-laden epoch of their lives; my sixth is over 20, married and has given us our first great-grandchild, Lucy Pearl.

'Spot creation' is the label given to the literal interpretation of creation in Genesis of the Judeo-Christian scripture. Here God did create the universe in essentially its present form - e.g. Homo Sapiens (man and woman) were made in their finished form as we see ourselves now. More strict fundamentalists even date Creation to 4004 BC.

Secular humanists have an ongoing program of misinformation claiming that 'intelligent design' is nothing but a codeword for spot creation. When accepted, this proposition short circuits any discussion of the cosmos mediated by an intelligent super-agent (God). Of course, there's a lot more to all of this.


I figured that's where you were going with spot creation, but I couldn't find it anywhere, so I wasn't sure.

And I'm sure your grandkids are anything but typical. I know many exceptional teenagers too, but the run-of-the-mill 16-year-old scares me.


Here's a documentary on Ray Kurzweil and his Singularity.

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