Thinking machines are consistently in the news these days, and often a topic of discussion here at 13.7. Last week, Alva Noë came out as a singularity skeptic, and three of us contributed to Edge.org's annual question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?
In response to the Edge.org question, I argued that we shouldn't be chauvinists when it comes to defining thinking — that is, we should resist the temptation to restrict what counts as thinking to "thinking like adult humans" or "thinking like contemporary computers." Marcelo Gleiser suggested that we're already living as transhumans, enhanced by our technogadgets and medical improvements. And Stuart Kauffman considered Turing machines, the quantum and human choice.
In addressing the relationship between humans and thinking machines, all three of our responses — and those by many others — raised questions about what (if anything) makes us uniquely human. Part of what's fascinating about the idea of thinking machines, after all, is that they seem to approach and encroach on a uniquely human niche, homo sapiens — the wise.
— Oh, to have lived in the age of the Parisian salons of the Enlightenment and been privy to some of the great intellectual discussions that went on there between writers, artists, philosophers, politicians and perhaps some budding scientists. Then again, I'm rather fond of the 21st century ands its modern medicine, indoor plumbing and smart websites. On the subject of clever websites, I give you Edge.org, which is a place where brilliant minds from many disciplines gather to mull a big annual question. In 2014, the annual question was "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?"
The responses covered things like the concept of race, barriers of scientific understanding, Moore's Law and the robustness (or lack thereof) of large studies. There's a lot to wade through there, but if you're into science, it's worth a peek.
Domingo 25, de enero do 2015 | lanacion.com (Buenos Aires)
More than 180 scientists, philosophers, writers and technicians responded to the annual call Edge.org website with original reflections on the scope, risks and possibilities of artificial intelligence, a field-edge science that is already bringing the future to present
Artificial intelligence, is one of the most promising developments of modern science, or risk to humanity? Between these two poles, with irony, optimism and caution, the 186 scientists, writers and thinkers convened this year by Edge.org-a website associated with a publisher that promotes thinking and discussion of the art in science, arts and moved literature- to meet its annual question. The collaborators wrote brief essays available on the web ( www.edge.org ) and, like every year, will soon have its publication on paper. Here a selection of their responses.
Pamela McCorduck, Steven Pinker, Irene Pepperberg, Thomas A. Bass, Paul Davies, Nicholas G. Carr.
Every January the intellectual impresario and literary agent John Brockman (who represents me, I should disclose) asks a large group of thinkers a single question on his website, edge.org. This year it is: “What do you think about machines that think?” There are lots of interesting answers, ranging from the skeptical to the apocalyptic.
I’m not sure that asking whether machines can think is the right question, though. As someone once said, it’s like asking whether submarines can swim. But we can ask whether machines can learn, and especially, whether they can learn as well as 3-year-olds. ...
180 intellectuals responded to this Edge annual question - "What do you think about computers that think?" Soon this question may become an issue for all of us
"What do you think about computers that think?" The question for 2015 on the prestigious Edge.org site. Each year the site gives the same question to more than 180 intellectuals and publishes their answers in one sequence, later published as a thick book. Respondents ranged from columnists in The New York Times, Nobel Prize winners, best-selling authors, and heroes of the technology world, many of them close friends of the site's colorful editor, literary agent John Brockman. Previously published questions: "What scientific concept has to retire?", "What tools will improve everyone's thinking?" and "What should we be worried about? ". This year, as mentioned, Brockman called 180 intellectuals to express an opinion on the question Hawking has been talking about. And Disclosure: I was delighted to receive an invitation to participate this year in most of this dialogue, and my response, ordered to be short - even short of this column - for the annual anthology published.
Several respondents, including the writer Pamela McCorduck, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli, Professor Margaret Levi of Stanford University and the Israel Prize laureate and former president of the Weizmann Institute Haim Harari, refer to machines that think as inevitable, and in large measure daily. Interest in human responsibility and proper management like any other field, and material nightmares. More than the machines thinking like people, I am concerned about people who think like machines, writes Harari.
Others relate to the very dismissive forecast: Vice President for Research of the George Washington University, Neurobiologist, Leo Chalupa doubts machines will be capable of abstract thought. Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling writes that computers may be major players in the future, but the script will never write people. They further emphasize emotion and will remain forever confined to human beings.
Over at BB pal John Brockman's Edge.org, nearly 200 very smart people, like Daniel C. Dennett, Brian Eno, Alison Gopnik, Nina Jablonski, Peter Norvig, and Rodney Brooks, ponder the EDGE Annual Question of 2015: What do you think about machines that think?
"Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge." —El Mundo
EL MUNDO. DOMINGO 18 DE ENERO DE 2015
"What do you think about machines think?" This is the annual question that the digital magazine Edge launches every year around this time, and which it presents to some of the brightest minds on the planet. Just over a month ago, in early December, Stephen Hawking warned of the potentially apocalyptic consequences of artificial intelligence, which in his opinion could eventually lead to "the end of the human species". But really, should we fear the danger of a future army of humanoids out of control? Or rather we should celebrate the extraordinary opportunities that could give us the development of thinking machines, and even sentient beings? Do such beings along with ourselves pose new ethical dilemmas? Would they be part of our "society"? Should we grant them civil rights? Would we feel empathy for them? Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge posed by the editor of Edge, John Brockman. This is just a selection of some of the most interesting responses.
Nick Bostrom, Daniel C. Dennett, Frank Wilczek, Steven Pinker
EDGE / EL MUNDO MADRID
Was denken Sie über Maschinen, die denken?
Nr. 12, Freitag, 16. Januar 2015
Once a year, the literary agent John Brockman presents a question to scientists on the website edge.org.. This year it's about artificial intelligence. Here is a selection of responses [three parts on Süddeutsche.de online):
Responses by David Gelernter, Peter Norvig and Douglas Coupland, Alison Gopnik, Brian Eno and Daniel L. Everett, Seth Lloyd, Thomas Metsinger, Susan Blackmore
I read the book This Will Make You Smarter.
It's an amazing compilation of short essays written by some of the world's most talented scientists, authors, and businessmen, written in a way anyone can understand.
The contributors were asked, "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"
Let me tell you, the book lives up to its title.
Here are six passages I found especially smart.
During the year just ended, Edge.org put to discussion the question What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Jerry Coyne pointed out in response to the idea of free will: "When pressed, Nearly all scientists and philosophers most admit this. Determinism and materialism, They agree, win the day. But they're remarkably quiet about it. Instead of spreading the important scientific message que our behaviors are the deterministic results of a physical process, they'd rather invent new "compatibilist" versions of free will: versions que comport with determinism. "Well, When We order strawberry ice cream we really Could Not have ordered vanilla, "They Say," but we still have free will in another sense. And it's the sense only that's important. "" * Essayist, core member of Studies of Science, Technology and Society (ICPD). Writes under the new orthographic agreement...
...In 1996 Egde.org website was made that was designed to put on a virtual room known scientists and philosophers and to ask each other the questions dangerous ideas-or rather the questions that each strives to respond to science.
Since then every year Edge.org publishes a book with the question of the year. For example this year's question is "What scientific concept is ready for retirement." The 2006 question was "What is your own dangerous idea." Will glean some ideas so dangerous for the good of the year 2015. Let me note that the word does not mean dangerous and necessary bad ideas. It means that we will change our lives. ...
Every year, BB pal, legendary book agent, and Edge.org founder John Brockman asks very smart people like Daniel C. Dennett, David Gelernter, Alison Gopnik, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and Kevin Kelly a big question at the intersection of science and culture. Here's filmmaker Jesse Dylan's impressionistic documentary on last year's Edge Question, "What Scientific Idea Is Ready for Retirement?"
Each year, Edge Foundation founder John Brockman poses an interesting question to thinkers in a wide range of fields: psychology, theoretical physics, evolution, cognitive science, and more. This year's question was "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?" And here are some of the answers.
Jesse Dylan put together this video, featuring answers from Jerry Coyne, Daniel C. Dennett, George Dyson, David Gelernter, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Alison Gopnik, Kevin Kelly, Alex Pentland, Irene Pepperberg, Steven Pinker, Lee Smolin, Paul Steinhardt, and Frank Wilczek. Brockman also collects the answers to his Edge Foundation questions in an annual book. This year's book, This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, will be available in February 2015.
The folks in this video come up with a variety of answers, and they don't all agree, but it's interesting to hear what outdated or misunderstood ideas these individuals want to see retired for the sake of moving forward.
...Innovation does not require a complete break with tradition
Unfortunately, some extreme views tend argument is this: China's innovation performance than most developed countries (right), China has this kind of difference with these countries (right), then these differences will be Our innovative inferior reason (the inference would be too simplistic), so we want to emulate, to throw away our heritage, abandon our language, we bid farewell to Chinese medicine, and so on. ...What a developed country is a complete break with the tradition of his own? Israel is well recognized as an innovative country, but a profound impact on Israel's Jewish cultural tradition, no one negative. Japan is also typical of an innovative country, it is how to treat the traditional? Whether Nara ancient buildings, or kimono, Noh, they are regarded as treasures. Of course, the United States is by far the most powerful and innovative power, while Americans thought the ancient Greek tradition was born and heritage since the academic tradition has been clutching tightly.
We need to emulate, we also need geese are swans, the two had not diametrically opposed relationship.
Different paths of the same intersection may nurture innovation
We all know that innovation often occurs at the margins. Here may be the edge of the edge, the edge of culture, language, and so interdisciplinary. Promote "third culture" (breaking of cultural differences between science and humanities) American scholar John Brockman created the "edge network" (www.edge.org), it is because the margins realized the importance of innovation .
Ease of different languages on the edge of innovation occur. A language corresponding to a way of thinking, a kind of view, we Chinese people if both mastered Chinese, but also mastered English (or other languages), it is possible to observe from multiple perspectives of the same object, it should be easier to produce spark innovative ideas. In fact, I think there are a number of Chinese scholars in the United States, one of the reasons for the Nobel Prize in science, that is, the piece of soil, they are more able to reflect the marginal advantage ...
[Translation] Year in Review 2014 in books
2014 was an uncertain year, a year of turmoil.
What will this year be in hindsight ?
What do books say about that?
A look back.
...The history of Lucretius is thus in turn the shadow side of the story of Reason in this part of the world, which some necessarily refer to as the West [the Occident, as opposed to the Orient]: His revolution was one of curiosity and knowledge, a kind of humanism, which invented Man free of the laws of power and bound only by the laws of Nature—the anti-thesis to this is a philosophy of Anti-Humanism, which John Brockman describes in his book "Afterwords" [published in English as "By The Late John Brockman"], which originally appeared in the 1970s, now for the first time in its own timelessness in German.
Perspectives between lies, superstitions and narcissism
Because the world, as the then universal thinker and today's Über Networker Brockman sees it, is a world in which reason, truth, freedom, and progress are only illusions of the human mind, which is addicted to meaning, that it likes to produce on its own. They are thoughts that are born of the cybernetic philosophy and envision the governance of machines, meaning the computer and artificial intelligence.
They are not thoughts which want to console, but these are not thoughts either that aim to spread fear. On the contrary: by the way that he thinks about the History of Man in reverse, from its ending, Brockman opens up perspectives which allow a different view of the world between the lies, superstition, the narcissism and the madness/delusion which are part of being human.
Like Lucretius. Like Mbembe. Like Lévi-Strauss. Like Haenel. Because this is what it is all about, otherwise we would not have to read books at all. ...
Georg Diez is a writer at Der Spiegel & Spiegel Online; Author of weekly and widely read column "Der Kritiker"; Former Cultural Editor at Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sonntags Zeitung and Die Zeit.
This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories that Are Blocking Progress
Edited by John Brockman
Brockman (What Should We Be Worried About?), founder of the Edge Foundation, has compiled a series of humorous and thought-provoking short essays from a wide array of scientists, science writers, and assorted academics. Several essays deal with concepts that aren’t fully understood, even by experts; string theory, for instance, is addressed in several sections, each from a slightly different angle. More philosophical topics receive consideration as well, such as free will, nature vs. nurture, and the difference between the brain and the mind (if there is one). Even economics is included. Some topics, like the lament over the term rocket scientist or the problem with artificial intelligence, are arguments about definitions, while other discussions contemplate the morality of certain practices in science. One fascinating result of having several authors address the same topic is seeing firsthand the ways experts disagree with one another. A common thread throughout is the reminder that science and its practitioners do not exist in a vacuum: those who work in areas that many consider esoteric still fight traffic and worry about what their work will do to make the world better. Brockman succeeds in presenting scientific work that will appeal to a variety of readers, no matter their background.
Looking for a great book to read over the holidays? Here are 10 good ones about investing, business, andeconomicsthat I read this year.
...This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman. It's a long collection of short (one-page) essays by some of the smartest people in the world who were asked the question, "What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody's Cognitive Toolkit?" You won't put it down. ...
Industrial Engineer and MBA from Stanford, is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Engineering of the UBA... Of all the Internet's innovations, the possibility of working collaboratively is what stands out the most. Here is a list of some of his favorite examples on the web:
...OTHER DIGITAL RESOURCES
www.economist.com: "To understand what is happening in the world and played a liberal approach.."
www.edge.org: "Conversations to reach the frontier of knowledge Great thinkers telling what keeps them awake at night.."
www.npr.org: "talk radio, with research and interesting stories about business, science, technology."
Brockman, John (Editor)
Feb 2015. 592 p.
One detects no small Edge.org anthology. Each year, Brockman, the founder of the online science salon, poses a provocative question––last time, it was What Should We Be Worried About? (2014)—and invites leading scientists, philosophers, and artists to respond in concise and lucid essays. This time, he really struck a chord, inviting contributors to kill off scientific ideas that are outdated to the point of obstructing new advances. One hundred and seventy-five intellectual assassins eagerly stepped forward. ... Physics, statistics, robotics, linguistics, medicine—all are zestfully scrutinized in this exuberant, mind-blowing gathering of innovative thinkers, which includes even novelist Ian McEwan, who tries to try put the kibosh on the entire murderous exercise, declaring, "Every last serious and systematic speculation about the world deserves to be preserved."