The worst pain a man can suffer: to have insight into much and power over nothing.
-Herodotus (Dorian Greek historian, 484-430/420BC)
I just came across that while doing some design work for a client this evening. Seems that my mind has been revolving around that concept a lot lately. I have even thought recently that na?vet? might be preferred some days. My brain is full…
In a nutshell, I say that it’s impossible to manufacture an AI which will compete equally with human intelligence. The elusive quality which human thought possesses, and which an AI can’t possess, is something I call ‘irrational insight’. Note the modified noun ‘insight’. I’m not talking about irrationality per se. ‘Insight’ implies, and deliberately so, the qualities of pertinence and consistency.
And the cherry on the cake is this quote, aimed at Stephen Hawking’s advocacy of endowing AI with biological properties and ourselves with mechanical ones:
He [Hawking] deserved a severe rebuke for saying what he said. But if he actually believes it, then the little shit deserves to be hanged.
A Thai Buddhist monk cut off his penis with a machete because he had an erection during meditation and declined to have it reattached, saying he had renounced all earthly cares, a doctor and a newspaper said on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old monk, whose name was withheld for privacy reasons, allowed medical staff at Maharaj hospital, 780 km (480 miles) south of Bangkok to dress his wound, but refused reattachment, hospital chief Prawing Euanontouch said.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence author Robert Pirsig in what he claims to be his final interview:
The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain.
Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food.
Traditional scientific method has always been, at the very best, 20-20 hindsight. It’s good for seeing where you’ve been. It’s good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can’t tell you where you ought to go.
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What’s the motive?
The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
An article on five researchers in studying the neuroscientific basis for religious experience: Michael Persinger, Stewart Guthrie, Andrew Newberg, Dean Hamer, and Rick Strassman.
Critics point out that Persinger’s subjects usually know in advance how the God machine is supposed to affect them and hence might be only responding to suggestion. A group at Uppsala University in Sweden recently found that subjects lacking such expectations experience no unusual psychological effects as a result of electromagnetic brain stimulation. Persinger counters that in at least two of his studies, suggestibility could not have been responsible, and the Swedes “didn’t use our equipment properly.”
Dawkins, when he visited Persinger’s lab, experienced a slight dizziness and twitching in a leg but otherwise “nothing unusual.” And Charles Cook, a former grad student of Persinger’s who supervised God-machine sessions in the 1990s, has noted that most subjects who sensed a presence typically experienced only a vague feeling of being watched—which they were, of course, by the researchers.
The new issue of Reconstruction is on blogging. I’m featured in the “Why Blog” section along with bloggers from all over the world, from Montana to Iran. Douglas Rushkoff, Mickey Z, and Rebecca Blood are some of the bigger names featured. Reconstruction 6.4: Theories/Practices of Blogging.
Australian filmmaker John Safran is so fed up with mormons ringing his doorbell early in the morning that he flies to Salt Lake City, Utah and tries to convert Mormons to atheism. Needless to say, the locals were not pleased.
Hours and hours of video from Beyond Belief 2006, featuring Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, V.S. Ramachandran, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stuart Hameroff, Terry Sejnowski… and piles of scientific sorts. From yon site:
After two centuries, could this be twilight for the Enlightenment project and the beginning of a new age of unreason? Will faith and dogma trump rational inquiry, or will it be possible to reconcile religious and scientific worldviews? Can evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience help us to better understand how we construct beliefs, and experience empathy, fear and awe? Can science help us create a new rational narrative as poetic and powerful as those that have traditionally sustained societies? Can we treat religion as a natural phenomenon? Can we be good without God? And if not God, then what?
This is a critical moment in the human situation, and The Science Network in association with the Crick-Jacobs Center brought together an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers to explore answers to these questions. The conversation took place at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA from November 5-7, 2006.