Transhumanism.

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Jaster Mereel, Apr 25, 2006.

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  1. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    All I see are different behaviors. Show me how to measure intelligence.
     
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  3. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    What is the difference?
     
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  5. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    baum,

    Why can't you tell the difference between behavior and inteligence?
     
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  7. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Jaster,

    What do you think?
     
  8. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    Cris, can you? Tell me the difference. I am under the impression that intelligence is a type of behavior. In fact, I want you to try to prove to me that you yourself know the differences in intelligence you claim.
     
  9. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Baum,

    Behavior is a result that can have many causes, structure, instincts, conditioning, intelliegnce, etc. I can't see intelligence as a type of behavior but as something that influences behavior.

    Why do you think intelligence is a behavior?
     
  10. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    Cris,

    The only way that intelligence has ever been measured has been by observing the behavior of the subject. There has never been any other standard of intelligence, so the idea that intelligence is in fact just a given behavior in a given situation is perfectly logical to us.

    You keep referring to this foggy notion of "intelligence" without defining exactly what it is, and when someone asks you to define what it is you say it is self-evident, that even a child could tell. Perhaps we are both dull-witted, we cannot see such self-evident things, and we are now asking you to explain it to us the way you would someone who had no notion of intelligence at all, which is exactly the way science is conducted.

    The point we were both trying to make is that intelligence is not quantitative but qualitative. Intelligence is not something which can be measured with numbers and equations, but rather it is an interpretation of a given observable behavior in an individual. You can never say that someone or something has "4 more intelligence" than someone or something else, but only that it has more, and even then you are not judging with a broad enough base of observations from which to judge effectively, you are simply making a sweeping pronouncement. When an observor judges the intelligence of an individual, he or she can only see the behaviors that the individual they are observing exhibits, and based upon that observation of behavior intelligence is judged. However, this does not mean that such a thing as "intelligence" in an individual, as a seperate, objective state from the specific behavior actually exists. I do not believe it does. It is clear to me that "intelligence" is nothing more than instincts and conditioning, and that the notion of "intelligence" is a subjective interpretation of the behaviors caused by instinct and conditioning.

    This makes the argument by transhumanists and other proponents of the Singularity that AI will eventually be more "intelligent" than humans fallacious, in my opinion, because intelligence does not exist as a quality apart from the behaviors that an individual exhibits.
     
  11. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Jaster,

    You have a curious opinion but it doesn't seem particularly constructive or interesting.
     
  12. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    Well, neither does yours. So what?
     
  13. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    Cris,

    This subject has clearly gone way above your head, and your inability to argue is quite evident by your complete lack of participation in this thread. You haven't addressed a single point that either baumgarten or myself has made, in fact you haven't even made a point yourself. You have continued to make vague, or irrelevant statements with absolutely no bearing on the argument, as if to make sure that your name merely keeps appearing as the last post. Why don't you try actually participating, or else stop posting altogether. Or, is the cognitive dissonance too much for you to handle in a rational manner, leaving you completely confused as to how you should respond?
     
  14. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Lol.
     
  15. makeshift Registered Senior Member

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    Jaster, how many books on transhumanism have you read?

    The way I see it, the precedents are indeed there. When you think about it and study some real figures, it becomes quite evident that technological change and growth/evolution is exponential. As time goes on, the reality of a new world/singularity is going to change from being "not unrealistic" to "likely" to "obviously". The fate of the Singularity is probably going to be mainstream knowledge long before it actually happens. But for now, it's coming with the stealth of a tsunami.
     
  16. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    I'd like you to support any of the things you just said. Tell me where the precedent is for something like this. Don't give me this "technological growth is exponential" crap. Novelty has been exponential, in other words, the rate of increase in new technologies has grown ever more quickly, not the increase in this highly subjective thing called "advancement". The vast majority of books on transhumanism have been written by transhumanists, and have an inherent bias. They all consists of mostly wishy-washy, head-in-the-clouds hopefullness, and propoganda. Technocrats have this ingrown tendency to look at everything in terms of technology, as if technology is developing for technology's sake alone. It is not. Technology is a response to some need, whether internal or external, and it never changes life so radically, so quickly.

    I want someone to give me a detailed timeline, from now until when this supposed "singularity" is supposed to happen, telling me exactly the way it will occur. I want someone to examine this idea with some kind of ultra-realistic, professional scrutiny rather than giving me talking points about the destiny of mankind. No offense to you, makeshift, but I don't think that anyone who is a transhumanist has a firm grasp of historical reality.
     
  17. makeshift Registered Senior Member

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    Jaster:

    Too bad, cause that's what you're gonna get.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    The exponential nature of the change in speed of each successive paradigm shift in technology is really at the heart of why people believe the Singularity will happen. As for data... well, I'm sure you don't need to be convinced that change is accelerating (in fact, even the acceleration of change -- is accelerating), but here's stuff anyway.
    Law of accelerating returns

    Here's a wiki link too:
    Singularity

    Who cares about subjectivity? The Singularity has nothing to do with people's opinions on what's "advanced". It's going to happen whether people think it's for the better or not.
    I agree that a lot of transhumanists/Singulatarians are exceedingly optimistic about the future, such as Ray Kurzweil. He does, however, emphasize the need to prepare for it with defensive technologies. In one hand, they recognize and define the Singularity as being unpredictable. In other words, it's going to be extremely hard to tell what's going to happen because we'll have no way to understand such a radical new world. In the other hand, they make predictions about how great it will be, DESPITE how unpredictable it's going to be, which I find contradicting. For example, Ray says in a dialog with Bill Gates in his book "The Singularity is Near" that computers will be like us -- even more like us than WE are. Bill says he disagrees. Ray says "you don't think they'll be conscious?" to which Bill replies, "Oh, they'll be conscious, but probably not like humans." And then he goes on to explain why.

    I agree with Bill on that one.

    In my opinion, barring any huge disasters (meteorites, plagues, etc) wiping out the planet, the trends clearly point in the direction of a technological Singularity. And soon. I don't know whether it's going to suck, or be awesome -- utopic or dystopic -- or roughly the same as life is now, and I don't pretend to know But I'm optimistic.

    So yeah, they do make a lot of predictions and assumptions that are unreasonable, BUT Ray does an excellent job at communicating and defending his Law of Accelerating Returns. He also explains in great detail in our current endeavors in reaching for the key technologies that will make the Singularity happen. He argues it VERY well. Though there are some things I believe he can't reasonably predict, he does an excellent job at presenting data in support of the reality of the impending Singularity.

    Agreed.

    Ray predicts it's going to happen around 2045. And due to the nature of the Singularity it's going to be VERY hard to predict the way it's going to happen. I don't think anybody is presuming to know EXACTLY HOW it's going to happen. Just that it will. I mean, plus, the word Singularity, if you didn't notice is kind of a loose term, which can be interpreted in many ways, one of which is "an "event horizon" in the predictability of human technological development past which present models of the future cease to give reliable or accurate answers, following the creation of strong artificial intelligence or the amplification of human intelligence." Do they mean an "event horizon" to observers of normal intelligence, or some super intelligent cyborg? Perhaps a person couldn't predict it, but a super intelligent machine could. It gets kinda fuzzy in other words.

    I'd honestly say read Ray's book. His predictions are VERY well supported. Moreso than any other futurist I know of. In fact Bill Gates is quoted as saying "Ray Kurzweil is the best person I canthink of to predict the future of AI." It's certainly better than talking to me about it. He's far from being a flake too. Certainly a skim of this page would convince you otherwise.
    Ray Kurweil
    He's an MIT graduate, inventor, author -- he's started something like 9 companies.
    None taken.

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    By the way, you never answered my question from before: "how many books on transhumanism have you read?".
     
  18. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    Makeshift:

    What exactly is change? How do you define change? Change in what? Technology? How do you quantify technology? Tell me how technology in general can be quantified.

    What qualifies as progress? In what direction do things progress? What is the "current rate" of progress? What unit of measure does he use? He hasn't provided any of these things in this article. It is vague and sweeping. (Don't give me a long winded article. Address the issues yourself. If you can't give me the arguments yourself then it means you don't really understand it, and if you don't really understand it then it means that you were attracted by sophisticated language and the credentials of the author.)

    You totally misunderstood me. If the concept of "advancement", or "progress" is subjective, then it cannot be measured. At all. Ever. He is using a subjective concept and then telling you that he has quantified it, and he is making a prediction based upon that quantification. However, he has not told you how he has quantified it.

    How about massive overpopulation? Water shortages? Emigration caused by the two former trends? Weapons proliferation? Do those count? What trends? Don't show me a graph, give me your own, real world, personal observations of the trends which you believe are leading to this. Also, you've got it backward. Change does not occur barring any disasters, change occurs because of disasters, which cause a need for change.

    I've read a lot about Kurzweil, but I've never read his book per ce. I've only read lots and lots of excerpts which give me a general sense of his idea. Also, I've gotten into a lot of arguments with people about the Singularity who like citing him. I don't want people to cite him, I want them to defend the idea they believe in themselves, with real world observations. He charted history's progression on a graph, generalizing Moore's Law to change in general, when change isn't something you can quantify like the number or size of transistors on an integrated circuit. Like I said before, I don't have an issue with transhumanism as a philosophy which reaches toward a goal, but rather with the idea of the "Singularity".
     
  19. makeshift Registered Senior Member

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    How can technology be quantified in general?

    By the things it allows us to do. By how much more productive it makes us. By how much it improves our lives (of course, whether our lives are better now than they were in the Stone Age is matter of subjectivity. If you think it was better then than it is now, I'm going to have major beef with you).
    What is meant by progress is the power technology gives us. The Singularity will mark a time in the future when the power technology gives us will enable us to control our environment AND ourselves (change our genetic make-up, and improve upon our physicalities and congnition) to such an extent that society as we know it will be so vastly different that we won't be able to predict it or understand it with our normal intelligence.

    Faster processors let us run more complex and greater variety of applications. They, in turn, make us more powerful and capable. They allow us to do more work. Could you connect to the Internet and be reading this on an Apple IIe? Can you deny that faster computers let you do more?-- that they don't improve your life?

    One way you could quantify progress is by how productive the world is in terms of the GNP of all countries, or the major developed ones. In fact, in Ray's book, he has a graph that shows how the world economy's growth has been exponential -- from the very beginning.

    If you don't think having greater control over the environment, making more money, having vastly better and more efficient ways of doing things isn't progress, then maybe you ought to change your idea of what progress is because that's what futurists and most people are talking about in this given context. I'm not going to get into semantics.
    There have been all these things in the past, but have they made ANY significant dent AT ALL in the strength of the world economy as a whole now? Sure, the depression hurt the US economy and the people of the time very greatly, but its effects can hardly be felt anymore. We recovered quickly (in the big picture).

    And I don't have it backward. Change does happen without disasters. It also happens because of disasters, like you said. Did we lay down our world changing optical fiber because of some disaster? No. We did it because it has a lot of things to offer us.
    Well, the thing is, his ideas are backed up with real world observations. The guy's an expert. He's been a programmer for 40 years, developing technology. He's a technologist and futurist. He KNOWS the history of technology. He's been predicting trends for most of his career. They are real world observations. You need only read more to see that. Get his book. But for my own observations -- just look at how quickly technology is changing business -- how much more effectively we can communicate and do business. All of this is happening at an exponential rate. And it's all an EXTREMELY recent phenomenon, isn't it?

    You can see this exponential rate of change not only in the evolution of technology, but in evolution in general among animals. And the reason for this is because of paradigm shifts. An example of a paradigm shift in evolution would be the advent of DNA. That enabled animals to transmit its own instructions iteration after iteration, greatly speeding up the rate with which it could conduct experiments (see what configurations would be success in a given environment). And then another paradigm shift would be eukaryotes. Then another would be multicellular organisms, which enabled specialization and ever quicker evolution and adaptability. Then another paradigm shift would be the advent of brains, which made evolution even quicker -- even allowed us to create technology -- another paradigm shift in evolution with an evolution of its own. And if you study these changes, these paradigm shifts, you see they happen quicker and quicker -- closer to each other, and ever sooner.

    If you study biology and the history of biology, it's super extremely apparent that evolution is an exponential process. It starts VERY slow, accelerates, gets less super slow, and less so and so on. Until it happens real fast (relatively fast). Notice how recent the phenomenon of humans is in terms of the big picture.

    The idea is that the change happens quicker and quicker with each succession because every once in a while an innovation is made that's so good and robust that other innovations are built on top of it. And that's EXACTLY what we're seeing with our own technology. And that's why the change is happening quicker and quicker.


    It's not all that obvious that the change in the rate of change in technology paradigms is speeding up to most people. Even less are the implications. I don't think you're arguing or that you have actually argued yet that it's not happening -- so far you just seem to be arguing over what's meant by progress -- semantics. But if you accept this idea, what do you think will be the consequences of ever greater power over ourselves and the environment? It's pretty hard to predict, isn't it? That's the idea behind the Singularity.

    By the way, you never answered my question from before: "how many books on transhumanism have you read?".

    Just read the book. There's probably no better book out there on this subject.
     
  20. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    This doesn't answer the question. Now you have to quantify production, and improvement.


    Now you have to quantify power, and you are implying the same hierarchy of intelligence that Cris was implying. There is no such hierarchy. Intelligence is judged by behavior alone, and the same behavior in different situations may constitute more or less intelligence on the part of the individual exhibiting said behavior. So my question is, how do you quantify intelligence, and what constitutes "normal" intelligence?

    No, I would not deny that I feel my life has been made easier and more comfortable because of modern technologies, but you are using terminology that is broad, and subjective in nature. You can't make a reasonable argument for something so radical as the Singularity using such sweeping generalities.



    The GNP has less to do with the technology that people around the globe possess, and more to do with the number of people engaging in trade. The world economy's growth has been exponential because the growth in population around the world has been exponential-- more people are producing goods, buying, and selling than ever before in all of human history. It honestly has nothing to do with our technology, although an argument could be made that such a vast population could not be possible without modern technologies. On that, I am inclined to agree, but that only means that technology has given us the means to become more productive, not that it has made us so by it's very existence. There are many instances throughout history where technologies were available that were not utilized to the extent of their potential capabilities, and all of this talk by transhumanists about nanotechnology and cybernetics, etc... is all well and good until you face reality. It's true that these things may be possible in the future, but that says nothing about whether or not people will use them in the manner in which transhumanists believe, or even use them at all.




    You're thinking on too limited a timescale. The answer to your first question is, quite simply, yes. The Greek Dark Age way back during the Bronze Age, the Fall of Rome, etc... those are just examples from Europe. There have been many such instances throughout world history and on every continent that built any kind of sophisticated culture.

    That's true, but did laying down all of that optical fiber change society on the fundamental level? No, of course not. We had telegraph wires before that, and before that we had uber-slow postal communication. The types of changes you are talking about would radically alter the fabric of all human societies, and that kind of changes does not happen without some kind of huge impetus for change, which is usually some type of disaster. At least, not even remotely close to as fast as proponents of the Singularity believe it will happen.

    Look, the guy is a technologist. You said it right there. He views everything in terms of technology. He believes that technological change is the driving force behind human history at the most fundamental level, and this lense causes him to make predictions of the future based upon that view. If you talk to someone who actually studies history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc... to any great depth, they will tell you that technology is not the driving force behind historical change, it's the internal motivations of people, none of which have anything to do with technology.

    That part that I bolded? That's the key right there. Technological development right now is not changing, at the fundamental level how we go about our daily lives, it is only making it faster, easier, and more convenient. In order for the singularity to occur, something needs to change fundamentally about human nature before the Singularity happens, and the only way that will happen is if something totally unexpected occurs that shakes the foundations of human society. In other words, the Singularity cannot do this by itself. Something like the Singularity can only be the product of something else that happens before it that is radically different from anything found in history.

    This is another problem that I have with a lot of transhumanists and technologists. They seem to believe that evolution has some kind of goal other than survival in the short term. It does not. Evolution occurs because of the specific environment that an organism exists in and must adapt to. It doesn't look forward, it's not trying to find something that can survive in any environment. It's a shortsighted, slow process without any kind of direction or intention.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  21. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    Natural evolution does not look forward, that is true. However, it is entirely possible that evolution will become directed by conscious thought in the near, middle, or distant future and will acquire goals of a very real kind.

    What those goals may be we can only guess.
     
  22. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    eburacum45,

    Thats pure conjecture. There is just as much reason to believe that it will not happen as it will happen. It seems like people like to entertain the idea because it is attractive, not because it has any kind of firm basis in reality. Besides, one can never be "outside" of the evolutionary process. Whatever reasons that a species might have for changing themselves will still be natural evolution because the motives for changing are still instinctual at their base, as are all motivations.
     
  23. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    Self directing evolution could be a disaster if the goals are not properly defined, or strategic mistakes are made. So I for one do not necessarily find the prospect very attractive.
    Nevertheless the prospect of self-directing evolution is very real, thanks to genetic engineering and information technology. We can't ignore this phenomenon; the gene genie is out of the bottle, and the thinking machines may be waiting in the wings.
     
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