AI and the Consciousness Issue

It is supposed by some that we ought to reserve human rights for humans and that artificial intelligence (“AI”) ought to never be afforded such rights. More enlightened individuals would temper that by saying that the rights of AI ought to be respected at least if were believed to have acquired consciousness. But then the problem becomes how one can tell whether an AI is conscious when we cannot even know for sure whether another person is conscious. One feels safe in assuming so since the evidence is that other people are physiologically and behaviorally similar enough to oneself to warrant the assumption that since we are conscious, so too are these otherwise similar others. I believe there will be good reason to warrant making this same assumption with respect to AI at some point. The argument against doing so would be something along the lines of thinking that a […]

The weirdness of reality

Send light through a beam splitter one photon at a time. Send one of the resulting beams to one lab and the other to a second lab. In the first lab, use a device to change the phase of each photon that arrives. Then measure its phase. In the second lab, just measure each photons phase. Conventional logic would tell you that the photons arriving at the second lab would not be effected by what was happening in the first lab, and so the phase of the photons measured there would be unchanged. But no, it’s phase was changed too. Now remember that an individual photon acts like a wave, until you measure something about it, like exactly where it is, or its velocity, or its state (like measuring its phase). Then the wave “collapses” and it is no longer a wave, spread out over space, but a particle, occupying […]

An accommodation

As reported on KSL.com the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made it official policy today to call for the state to restrict the right of individuals to deny employment, housing, etc. to gays. Unfortunately the statement is couched in terms of “protecting rights”, which this most assuredly is not. No one has a right to someone else’s property. The idea is an absurd contradiction. If you have the final say over a thing’s disposition then that thing is yours – your property. If someone else has the final say, then it is the property of that other person. We can speak of multiple persons each having an “interest” in property such as when two people each hold an equal 50% undivided joint interest in a property. But that is different than saying that any random unspecified person has a right to march into your residence or business and […]

Strong and Equal

A better translation of Genesis 2:18 reveals the true stature of woman in the eyes of God. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” The Hebrew word rendered as “help” is “ezer” which has two roots. One means “to rescue” or “to save” and the other means “to be strong”. It is used several times in the Bible and the majority of time it is used to describe God with reference to the kind of help he provides. Consider the kind of “help” God provided to Moses and the children of Israel in crossing the Red Sea. He opened the sea and let them cross on dry land. That’s the kind of help we’re talking about here, not the kind of help as in, “she helps out around the house.” The word translated […]

Take that Krauss

I really like how John Horgan put that bigoted, pseudo-scientific, anti-religious tag team of Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins in their place. The idea of offering the fact that quantum fluctuations can result in virtual particles becoming real as an answer to the question of why there is something instead of nothing is an insult to the intelligence of their audience, or worse, an appeal to their anti-religious prejudice as being sufficient to blind them to the absurdity of the proposition. As Horgan correctly rejoins, just where or where do the quantum fields that can give rise to virtual particles come from? Surely quantum fields are something and not nothing. Krauss’ thesis would be just plain silly if it weren’t so clearly intended simply as a rallying point for equally rabid atheists whose own pseudo-religious fervor trumps any appeal to reason and quest for truth. I disagree with Horgan’s view […]

Power corrupts

I’m starting a collection of links to stories about the abuse of power by police, politicians and any other so-called “public servants”. Lots of people complain about this abusive behaviour but few understand its cause. Power is the ability to get one’s way, to affect one’s environment, to have control over one’s circumstances. We all need and want power and that’s good. But there are only two kinds of power. One is acquired by reason, persuasion, and respect. It is the power over that which one acquires a right to by voluntary exchange, by bringing into being, by discovery, or by first use (homesteading). The other is the power asserted by brute force, violence. The former is appropriate for rational animals – humans – who maintain and enhance their lives by virtue of their mind’s ability to reason. The latter is appropriate for wild animals. It is a measure of […]

Some cool formulas

A few formulas I came up with and want to save. S = 1/I The measure of entropy is inversely proportional to that of intelligence. So this might be a catchy little way of expressing extropy. AI > I – AI The measure of so-called artificial intelligence will exceed the measure of “organic” intelligence before the previous formula will become of any practical consequence. These would be catchier if there was a neat symbol of intelligence. Oh well.

Thoughts on a transhumanist interpretation of the King Follett sermon

I am a member of the organization called the Mormon Transhumanist Association. The group is fortunate enough to have an articulate and highly intelligent founder and spokesperson, Lincoln Cannon. I just read this excellent essay where Lincoln interprets Joseph Smith’s famous King Follett sermon. Through this literary device Lincoln reconciles the vital doctrine Joseph Smith taught on that occasion with both transhumanism and Lincoln’s adaptation of the simulation argument which he calls the New God Argument. Such a reconciliation is easy because, as he and I agree, Mormon doctrine mandates transhumanism. I do want to comment on something he says at page 9. “Imagine a posthuman child. Using the tools of quantum archeology, she traces backwards through time and space from effects to causes. Sampling a sufficiently large portion of her present, she rediscovers you. Attaining a desired probabilistic precision for a portion of her past, she recreates you. The […]

Democracy kills babies

Hello all you lovers of democracy and the ballot box. All you petitioners who lobby the government to legislate goodness and light. Ever hear the saying, “live by the sword, die by the sword”? Well if its legitimate for the government, our “democratically elected representatives” to heed your call to require people to do what you consider to be the right thing, then isn’t it legitimate for those who disagree with you about what the right thing is to petition the government to legislate that as well? Bottom line – if its just about democracy and not about inalienable individual rights, then you must admit that this new idea called “4th trimester abortion” is perfectly fine so long as they can get a majority to go along with it. And if college students who were asked to sign a petition in favour of 4th trimester abortion are any indication, a […]