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Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:02 pm
by Ygern
adamd164 wrote:
I got it! She believes in god!
:lol: Actually, GOD is oddly devoid of a godlike personality.

The weakness in both programs is that neither have any understanding (obviously) of the words being typed by the human. Trying to put together an algorithm that enables a machine to assemble a coherent sentence let alone a coherent reply is mind-boggling to me. Once such an algorithm succeeds, then as you say, the distinction between what we call "comprehension" and the program's artificial intelligence becomes meaningless.

In the mean time, it is interesting to see what these programs have to say, particularly when they get it wrong.

There's a good interview with Daniel Dennett here where he explains some of the concepts at the heart of his argument in Freedom Evolves. He actually argues that we are "choice machines".

Two snippets that explain his position very clearly:
...if determinism is true, then there's less randomness. There's less unpredictability. To have freedom, you need the capacity to make reliable judgments about what's going to happen next, so you can base your action on it.

Imagine that you've got to cross a field and there's lightning about. If it's deterministic, then there's some hope of knowing when the lightning's going to strike. You can get information in advance, and then you can time your run. That's much better than having to rely on a completely random process. If it's random, you're at the mercy of it...

But if there are reliable patterns -- if there's a degree of determinism -- then we can take steps to protect ourselves.
I want to break the bad habit of putting determinism and inevitability together. Inevitability means unavoidability, and if you think about what avoiding means, then you realize that in a deterministic world there's lots of avoidance. The capacity to avoid has been evolving for billions of years. There are very good avoiders now. There's no conflict between being an avoider and living in a deterministic world. There's been a veritable explosion of evitability on this planet, and it's all independent of determinism.

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:25 pm
by mkaobrih
Ygern wrote:Once such an algorithm succeeds, then as you say, the distinction between what we call "comprehension" and the program's artificial intelligence becomes meaningless.
How would you get around the Chinese room problem? Where the computer is just identifying “shapes” and has no comprehension as to what it’s doing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Room

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:16 am
by aZerogodist
Ygern wrote:At the moment we have no difficulty distinguishing AI from human* intelligence;

* I'm calling it 'human' as opposed to 'free will' as there is significant evidence now to debate whether free will exists at all other than as a necessary illusion humans use to rationalise and justify their actions.
I am, therefore I think! I err think.
Those AI's remind me of debating religionists on YT, some total irrelevant replys. But they also remind me of the game "Starship Titanic" by Douglas Adams, where you have to talk to robots to find out clues, very engaging, their replys where really well done -ahead of its time.
Image
Ygern wrote:An AI capable of passing the Turing test would have to exceed certain capabilities of the three cases mentioned above who are already accorded rights. The fact that the algorithms controlling an AI would be machine code rather than organic chemical code should not diminish our perception of its capacity.
Damn now I feel guilty turning of this machine (oneday it will have rights)
This is becoming one of the most intresting trends.

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:28 pm
by Ygern
aZerogodist wrote:Damn now I feel guilty turning of this machine (one day it will have rights)
:lol: No need to feel guilt, think of it as the computer equivalent of lower than a sea sponge (in an evolutionary sense) - it is too primitive to feel either pain or distress.
Of course, you can still give your computer a reassuring hug from time to time. I do. :wink:
mkaobrih wrote:How would you get around the Chinese room problem? Where the computer is just identifying “shapes” and has no comprehension as to what it’s doing.
Thanks for linking to that, I must admit its the first time I've heard of it.

I’ve only had a brief look at the argument and its counter arguments, but here are my initial thoughts on Searle’s Chinese Room argument. (Anyone reading this thread who, like me, hasn’t come across this argument before - basically it’s the most famous argument against the development of Artificial Intelligence.)

I don’t think that his end position is radically different to mine. I was speculating on the possibility that eventually AI would successfully and faultlessly be able to simulate human intelligence. The question was how would one be able to distinguish the two; and my reply was that distinction under those conditions was irrelevant.
My position is (apparently) called the weak AI view; and what Searle is arguing against is the strong AI view (where computer would actually be able to understand and have other human mental abilities - sort of like C3PO or Twiki), so in that sense we wouldn’t have an argument. Where he and I would differ is that I don’t see that the weak AI view has to preclude the strong AI position.

One of the problems in the Chinese Room argument is that it is old enough to predate all the recent advances made in the Theory of Mind, bearing in mind (no pun intended) that we as yet don’t have a complete Theory of Mind for humans, let alone for other species such as higher mammals (bonobos, dogs) or corvids who do display evidence of some intelligence. It seems to me to fall into the trap of the Cartesian theatre (Daniel Dennett’s phrase) by making it appear that human consciousness and understanding are somehow significantly different and distinct from the algorithms and scripts that run a computer “brain”. Certainly, ours are more complex at the moment, but that is not what is being argued here.

When looking at the actual thought-exercise contained in the argument, a number of issues occurred to me. His analogy doesn’t work because his “human” in this scenario is the equivalent of a robot arm in a factory. I wouldn’t dispute that the human has no comprehension of Chinese; but it does not follow that the computer in the room does not. Given the complex nature of language acquisition, for this setup to work (it appears to everyone outside the room that someone inside the room understands Chinese), it suggests that the computer has a masterful command of the language. Does it “understand” the language?
I don’t know.
But how would you prove that it does not?

Let’s look at a simpler and dramatically more primitive comparison: Deep Blue (IBM’s chess-playing computer) beat the human world champion Kasparov in 1997 in a six game match. Now, I’m not arguing that Deep Blue has self awareness, or anything that amounts to human consciousness. It was designed to play chess, nothing else. It couldn’t tie its own shoe laces if it tried.
My question is:
Does Deep Blue understand chess?
Before you answer, consider this:
Does Garry Kasparov understand chess?
How do you know?
As far as their ability to play chess goes, what is the difference between Garry and Blue?
How would you prove that either of them is merely following instructions without “understanding” chess?

My point is that although they may be able to perform certain actions by following significantly different routes, as far as chess goes, both the human and the computer display similar mastery of the game. In fact (warning: anecdotal evidence!) one of the most fondly remembered moments of their encounter was when Deep Blue “took back” or reversed a move it had just made. It decided it had made a mistake; and corrected it on its next turn. The incident made everyone laugh, because it was generally agreed that a human would be too embarrassed to admit in public it had made a mistake.

Ok, true, Kasparov can out-perform Deep Blue on every other front. No arguments there. Deep Blue was a one-trick pony in every respect. But my point is, that in the matter of chess playing , it would be hard to establish that Kasparov has chess abilities that Deep Blue does not have.



More on
Corvid intelligence: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... _apes.html
Canine vocabulary: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 072744.htm
Bonobo language ability: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-n ... onobo.html
The Chinese Room Argument (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chines-room/

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:07 pm
by Ygern
The holographic universe is back in the news again.
The SGU's podcast this week discusses it in some detail. Podcast #183 1/21/2009
(You don't need a degree in physics to understand what they're talking about - they do this in very accessible normal language :wink: )

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:32 pm
by Gar
There's also an article in this weeks new scientist about the holographic universe if anyone wants to read it here.

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:20 am
by bobinne
Ygern wrote:It's perfectly conceivable that in a scripted and simulated environment it would be possible to prevent the inhabitants from ever discovering they are in a simulation.

All you need is a piece of code or background script that generates and fixes new random landscape once an inhabitant avatar approaches the pre-exisiting boundaries. The boundaries are not subject to the same constraints as the real world as we perceive it. In a program they could be extended outwards indefinitely, and frequently are in, for example, online games.

So, the denizens of an artificially simulated program could quite plausibly be prevented from ever knowing that they were in a simulation. No matter how sophisticated the program or perfect the world, a God by definition may intervene with his Creation. ITgod by definition may tweak the programming. ITgod may not really be God, but she is certainly godlike in her abilites.

I also think, that it could be possible to create a program, a sphere or a world which doesn't seem perfect, but which hides perfectly the programmation by anyone or by a kind of god.

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:05 pm
by DaithiDublin
Ouch! A.I. discussing A.I., I think my poor brain just got fried!
Or, ehm, my program just got scrambled. Or something.

I don't think I'm able to add much to this right now, but all this talk of simulations and whether or not we are in one still raises an obvious question. Even if we are in a simulation that was developed by a more intelligent 'programmer' (let's not use the term designer, even in referrence to a game), what kind of universe does that programmer inhabit, and how did it begin.

The search for a Prime Mover sometimes moves sideways, as well as backwards!
Carl Sagan, in his Introduction to A Brief History of Time wrote:This is also a book about God...or perhaps about the absence of God. The word God fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein's famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a creator to do.

Has anyone read Hawking's most recent book? Apparently he has satisfied himself that 'something can come from nothing' (ridiculous paraphrasing!!). If so, then all that's left for us to do is look forward, no? (or perhaps, sideways...)

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:27 am
by oldrnwisr
DaithiDublin wrote: Has anyone read Hawking's most recent book? Apparently he has satisfied himself that 'something can come from nothing' (ridiculous paraphrasing!!). If so, then all that's left for us to do is look forward, no? (or perhaps, sideways...)
Hi Daithi, yeah I've read The Grand Design and I'm listening to it on audiobook as well at the moment. He makes the point early in the book that there are virtual particles consisting of particle and anti-particle pairs which flash in and out of existence. So before he even gets to talking about the universe being created from nothing he demonstrates how such an event is possible. He wisely avoids an in-depth discussion on cosmogony and just makes the point that given our current understanding a spontaneously created universe is one possible alternative. All in all the book is a nice update of ABHOT and Universe in a Nutshell and accessibly lays the groundwork for a discussion of M theory.

As for looking backwards, Brian Greene's new book The Hidden Reality is a good description of the different theories about what may have preceded the big bang. Also Roger Penrose has written a book called Cycles of Time describing his theory of a cyclical universe.

Re: What caused the universe?

Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:44 pm
by Mirthomaniac
aZerogodist wrote:
JH wrote:If we exist in an advanced simulation (cf. The Matrix) - Then 'god', the prime mover, is whatever switched on the simulation at the beginning of what we perceive as time. And you can never prove that you *don't* exist in a simulation! :)
Sorry thats wrong, as say we reach the boundary say the beach, then IT-god would have to expand our known universe. Could he control each of us so we don't see hit edge of space oneday then extend the land so by magic there's no boundary the following day/year.

In the sim ITgod would have to be able to reprogramme us, and erase all recolection. See if we are as intelligent to create our own sims then the higher prog would have to be flawless. Also this would still prove none existance of ITgod as we would still not exist.
We don't even need to get into the details of why it is 'wrong'. It's not exactly productive to name very 'human' concepts like 'The Matrix' and then state that we can never know if we really are in some higher power's advanced simulation. If it can be known or discerned by evidence and reason, then we should only consider the idea's merits based on evidence. If it can never be figured out, then it is indistinguishable from 'magic', 'ghosts', and so on.
Ygern wrote:
In my (comparatively primitive) RPG worlds, when I reload a saved game the NPCs do not know they have been in cyber-oblivion for an hour or a week or a year. Or that a new modification program has been dropped into their world changing the way it looks and adding new places and people. Or even worse, that my avatar went on a rampage and caused serious civil unrest in their fair town just minutes before.
Which RPG is this? I felt a pang of guilt there at all the RPGs I've beaten and left untouched. So many beloved characters, sitting in blissful unawareness. Perhaps I'll thrown on Final Fantasy IX...

But seriously, the whole 'could we be inside the matrix?' idea was done well in The Matrix, better in Dark City, and awfully in The Thirteenth Floor. The concept is so tired that I think even the supreme alien overlords running the show would get bored eventually and cut us off.