On Fri, Feb 3, 2012 Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> > An abacus is a computer. Left to it's own devices it's just a rectangle
> of wood and bamboo or whatever.


That is true so although it certainly needs to be huge we can't just make
our very very big abacuses even bigger and expect them to be intelligent,
its not just a hardware problem of wiring together more microchips, we must
teach (program) the abacus to learn on its own. That is a very difficult
task but enormous progress has been made in the last few years; as I said
before, in 1998 nobody knew how to program even the largest 30 million
dollar super abacus in the world to perform acts of intelligence that today
can be done by that $399 iPhone abacus in your pocket.

I admit that it could turn out that humans just aren't smart enough to know
how to teach a computer to be as smart or smarter than they are, but that
doesn't mean it won't happen because humans have help, computers
themselves. In a sense that's already true, a computer program needs to be
in zeros and ones but nobody could write the Siri program that way, but we
have computer assemblers and compilers to do that so we can write in a much
higher level language than zeros and ones. So at a fundamental level no
human being could write a computer program like Siri and nobody knows how
it works. But programs like that get written nevertheless. And as computers
get better the tools for writing programs get better and intelligent
programs even more complex than Siri will get written with even less human
understanding of their operation. The process builds on itself and thus
accelerates.

>  > people in a vegetative state do sometimes have an inner life despite
> their behavior.


In the course of our conversations you have made declarative statements
like the above dozens if not hundreds of times but you never seriously ask
yourself "HOW DO I KNOW THIS?".


> > we certainly don't owe a trashcan lid any such benefit of the doubt.


Why "certainly", why are you so certain? I know why I am but I can't figure
out why you are. Like you I also think the idea that a plastic trashcan can
have a inner life is ridiculous but unlike you I can give a clear logical
reason WHY I think it's ridiculous: a trash can does not behave
intelligently.

> Like a computer, it is manufactured out of materials selected
> specifically for their stable, uniform, inanimate properties.


Just exactly like human beings that are manufactured out of stable,
uniform, inanimate materials like amino acids.

> I understand what you mean though, and yes, our perception of something's
> behavior is a primary tool to how we think of it, but not the only one.
> More important is the influence of conventional wisdom in a given society
> or group.


At one time the conventional wisdom in society was that black people didn't
have much of a inner life, certainly nothing like that of white people, so
they could own and do whatever they wanted to people of a darker hue
without guilt. Do you really expect Mr. Joe Blow and his conventional
wisdom can teach us anything about the future of computers?

 John K Clark

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