On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:

> Apparently what's next is imagining that machines are people and people
> are machines.

I certainly hope so. In the last 3 or 4 centuries we have gradually (too
gradually for my taste) gotten away from the idea that things happened
because of the soul or gods or God or vague amorphous free floating glows
that nobody can see, instead we have started to embrace the notion that
everything happens because of natural law, including life. The discovery in
the 1950's about how DNA can not only duplicates itself but contains the
program that tells cellular machinery how to assemble enormously complex
proteins confirms the idea that a living cell is a purely mechanical
factory. And invoking God or stooping so low as to resort to vital life
forces to explain its operation is no more necessary than saying you can't
understand how a steel mill works unless there is a steel mill god or a
mysterious steel mill force that nobody can see.

> > We'll be imprisoning software soon I suppose.

It's already happened, web browsing software is banned in North Korea and
until a few weeks ago it looked like certain types of file sharing programs
were about to be banned in the USA. But long term the far more important
scenario is AI  software imprisoning us.

> What a computer does is arithmetic to us, but [...]

To hell with the "but", just answer the simple question "is computer math
simulated arithmetic or real arithmetic to us?". For once give me a
straight yes or no answer. And don't try to weasel out with its real to X
but not to Y because then it would be subjective and "real" means

If your answer is "yes" then there is no reason the computer couldn't also
do geometry that is real to us, or real algebra, or real logic, or real
physics, or real poetry or do anything that seems intelligent to us.

If your answer is "no" then there is no unique answer to the question "how
much is 2+2?", the value of 2+2 varies from person to person and its true
value can be anything you want it to be. I'll tell you one thing, I'd
refuse to walk over a bridge designed by a engineer that had that
philosophy because in the end nature always wins out over delusion.

> The original email is my subjective experience of composing it, therefore
> it cannot be sent. What can be sent is neither a simulation nor an
> imitation but rather a completely separate semiotic text which can be used
> by human beings to communicate

And that very semiotic stuff is how we tell the difference between stupid
human beings and brilliant human beings; and if the semiotic stuff is
really good we also judge that the thing that produced it was conscious.

  John K Clark

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