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Intelligence programmable? Quote Binswanger

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I would like to open a bit of a discourse about the idea that we could backwards engineer how our brains process information to create an artificially intelligent machine. 

To start here is a quote by Harry Binswanger from his book How we know that seeks limits this possibility: 

 

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"The nonbiological perspective stands markedly revealed in the common question: is it possible to develop a computer that can think? My answer is: before a computer could think, it would have to be able to understand ideas (concepts); before it could understand ideas, it would have to be able to perceive the world and to feel emotions, such as pleasure and pain, desire and fear; before it could perceive and feel emotions, it would have to be alive — i.e., be engaged in action to sustain itself. We can dismiss notions about a thinking computer until one is built that is alive — and then it wouldn’t be a computer but a living organism, a man-made one.”

I follow his "answer" up to the bolded segment. Then I ask, could we not break down perception and emotions into algorithms? Why should these two phenomena not be replicable without life? I assume there is an answer that consciousness cannot be reduced to matter, but I'm questioning whether it would have to be? Couldn't we just mimic the way consciousness does its thing, just as we are now mimicking how our eyes perceive and evaluate things; e.g. visual recognition software; my iPhone can tell me what is a beach, what is a dog, etc. 

So for the machine to be able to perceive and feel emotions we define an enormous amount of if-then statements and other fundamental principles about how our mind works and handles input as to mimic how we process information.

 

 

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1 hour ago, mpp said:

I would like to open a bit of a discourse about the idea that we could backwards engineer how our brains process information to create an artificially intelligent machine. 

To start here is a quote by Harry Binswanger from his book How we know that seeks limits this possibility: 

 

I follow his "answer" up to the bolded segment. Then I ask, could we not break down perception and emotions into algorithms? Why should these two phenomena not be replicable without life? I assume there is an answer that consciousness cannot be reduced to matter, but I'm questioning whether it would have to be? Couldn't we just mimic the way consciousness does its thing, just as we are now mimicking how our eyes perceive and evaluate things; e.g. visual recognition software; my iPhone can tell me what is a beach, what is a dog, etc. 

So for the machine to be able to perceive and feel emotions we define an enormous amount of if-then statements and other fundamental principles about how our mind works and handles input as to mimic how we process information.

 

 

Binswinger begged the question.  It so happens that some alive entities have evolved into intelligent beings.  That  does not necessarily imply -only- alive being can become intelligent. 

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We need to go back to what it means to be ailve.  Binswanger's essential assumption is to be engaged in action to sustain itself. By that definition, all of the cells in a baby are alive, but the "baby qua baby" is not.  We might accept crying as an attempt to sustain itself, which I believe is inadequate. On the other hand, is the growth of a crystal an expression of its having life? 

Back in the mid-1980s, discussing software life, I looked up definitions for "life" in biology textbooks.  As you can imagine, they were general and intuitive, not rigorous.  The attributes of life do not apply to all living things.  For instance, "mules" (real donkey-horses, and other hybrids) do not reproduce their own kind because they are born sterile.  (Some exceptions apply. It depends on the species of the jack/jenny and mare/stud. That seems true in other kinds of hybrids.  In the wider context, fertile hybrids call Darwinian definitions of "species" into question.)  At any rate, Binswanger is just adhering to Ayn Rand's definition, which, again, is intuitively obvious, but perhaps not rigorous. Almost every cell in your body would be alive, of course, but by that definition your gametes (sperm, ovum) are not.

I worked in robotics and factory automation in the 'nineties. For one robot show, Kawasaki had two six-axis mechanical units controlled by one computer, to which was also included a vision system. It solved Rubic's Cube in a minute.  (Can Binswanger do that?) I built hobby robots since then. Right now, we have this toy for our cat. The toy has a simple mechanical servo to back away and re-direct after hitting a barrier. That is more that a sperm can do. 

Then, of course, her in this Board, we have discussions of computers that play chess.  In fact, as I understand it, we are now at the point where humans are relegated to a different arena because the computer always wins. If not "always" certainly "often."  

Autonomous machines are important to space exploration. That they cannot reproduce their own kind does not disqualify them as "life."  They certainly do perceive and react to their environments to sustain their range of actions.

 

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2 hours ago, syrakusos said:

We need to go back to what it means to be ailve.  Binswanger's essential assumption is to be engaged in action to sustain itself. By that definition, all of the cells in a baby are alive, but the "baby qua baby" is not.  We might accept crying as an attempt to sustain itself, which I believe is inadequate. On the other hand, is the growth of a crystal an expression of its having life? 

Back in the mid-1980s, discussing software life, I looked up definitions for "life" in biology textbooks.  As you can imagine, they were general and intuitive, not rigorous.  The attributes of life do not apply to all living things.  For instance, "mules" (real donkey-horses, and other hybrids) do not reproduce their own kind because they are born sterile.  (Some exceptions apply. It depends on the species of the jack/jenny and mare/stud. That seems true in other kinds of hybrids.  In the wider context, fertile hybrids call Darwinian definitions of "species" into question.)  At any rate, Binswanger is just adhering to Ayn Rand's definition, which, again, is intuitively obvious, but perhaps not rigorous. Almost every cell in your body would be alive, of course, but by that definition your gametes (sperm, ovum) are not.

I worked in robotics and factory automation in the 'nineties. For one robot show, Kawasaki had two six-axis mechanical units controlled by one computer, to which was also included a vision system. It solved Rubic's Cube in a minute.  (Can Binswanger do that?) I built hobby robots since then. Right now, we have this toy for our cat. The toy has a simple mechanical servo to back away and re-direct after hitting a barrier. That is more that a sperm can do. 

Then, of course, her in this Board, we have discussions of computers that play chess.  In fact, as I understand it, we are now at the point where humans are relegated to a different arena because the computer always wins. If not "always" certainly "often."  

Autonomous machines are important to space exploration. That they cannot reproduce their own kind does not disqualify them as "life."  They certainly do perceive and react to their environments to sustain their range of actions.

 

Living system:  a thermodynamic system that operates far from equilibrium  which is capable of replicating itself.  The living system can maintain itself far from thermodynamic equilibrium for as long as it can replicate portions of itself that no longer function (limited self repair).  If you take this definition (or description) seriously then you can conceive of non-organic  living systems. 

Intelligence is something else.  I am not sure intelligence has a thermodynamic definition or characterization.  Of course any material/energy system which carries out intelligent operations is subject to the laws of thermodynamics.  One way of looking at it is to regard entropy as a process that can turn sugars and proteins   into  works of art and mathematical theories. Just as a hen can transform scrambled eggs into whole eggs by eating the scrambled eggs.  Living things can diminish entropy (locally) at the cost of entropy increasing elsewhere  to produce a total universe entropy that is always increasing.  Entropy measures how degraded energy becomes when part of the energy is transformed into organized physical work.  Energy is neither created or destroyed but low entropy energy which can do a lot of work  turns into high energy entropy which was become work degraded because it was transformed into work.  The amount of energy does not change. 

 

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I am sorry, Ba'al, but I find that your description is too reductionist, so it misses the essence.  Just for starters, I already pointed out that living things do not necessarily replicate themselves: hybrids are often sterile, but are alive nonetheless.  At the cellular level, not all cells reproduce. Red Blood Cells (erythrocytes, which is only Greek for "red cells") are made in the bone marrow. Perhaps your description properly puts them outside the definition of "life".  But, evolutionarily, maybe they were independent at one time and just "devolved." Animals without interior bones must have some other ways to transport oxygen. 

But, again, I regard my own words above as falling into the reductionist fallacy. You can take something apart and never find the "it" that you took apart because "it" is the sum (greater than the sum?) of its parts.

As for intelligence, I think that it is possible that intelligence reverses entropy. Ideas are immaterial. That opens the door to our nature as "spiritual" beings. I think that perhaps all other living things are also "spiritual" only that they have less "spirit."  And, likely, other living things have more than we do: higher orders of angels, you might say.

I went back and read some of the posts by jts in Sports and Recreation about chess programs. How are they not intelligent?

 

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2 hours ago, syrakusos said:

I am sorry, Ba'al, but I find that your description is too reductionist, so it misses the essence.  Just for starters, I already pointed out that living things do not necessarily replicate themselves: hybrids are often sterile, but are alive nonetheless.  At the cellular level, not all cells reproduce. Red Blood Cells (erythrocytes, which is only Greek for "red cells") are made in the bone marrow. Perhaps your description properly puts them outside the definition of "life".  But, evolutionarily, maybe they were independent at one time and just "devolved." Animals without interior bones must have some other ways to transport oxygen. 

But, again, I regard my own words above as falling into the reductionist fallacy. You can take something apart and never find the "it" that you took apart because "it" is the sum (greater than the sum?) of its parts.

As for intelligence, I think that it is possible that intelligence reverses entropy. Ideas are immaterial. That opens the door to our nature as "spiritual" beings. I think that perhaps all other living things are also "spiritual" only that they have less "spirit."  And, likely, other living things have more than we do: higher orders of angels, you might say.

I went back and read some of the posts by jts in Sports and Recreation about chess programs. How are they not intelligent?

 

This living thing or that living thing may fail to replicate itself for accidental reasons  (injury,  disease, lack of a mate, or in the case of humans, choice).  But for a substantial portion of its life has the ability or capability of replicating itself.  And a living thing will for a portion of its lifetime be able to replicate its microscopic parts.  Can your desk top  computer  replicate any of its chips?  Can a chess playing machine learn to tie knots?  

All of my kids could play chess (not all that well)  and they could also tie their shoe laces. My desk-top computer can do neither but it plays a mean game of tic-tac-toe.  It never loses.  But I don't think it is intelligent.

Intelligence is general.   I know there are machines which play Chess and Go better than the best  players of these games,  but that is a cleverly programmed capability.  These machines lack general problem  solving ability.   The only general problem solvers I know of  are organic and biological (but not necessarily human).

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before it could perceive and feel emotions, it would have to be alive

 

There is something which takes place before reactive thought and reflexive emotion... and the conscious awareness required to spontantously and autonomously act on that before thought and emotion makes all the difference between intelligence and wisdom.

It's possible to create amoral artifical intelligence which can perform like a trained monkey on the level of a government bureaucratic employee.

However, it is impossible to create artificial wisdom.

 

Greg

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