[lit-ideas] Re: The Answering Machine

  • From: "Eric Yost" <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2012 02:58:59 -0500

>> At the limit of our understanding, the questions "Can a machine
think like a human?" and "Is a human, after all, only a particular
type of machine?" are equally unanswerable, increasingly so in a
world where tangible evidence for one or another is harder and
harder to come by.

I believe the answer to the both questions is "no." Machines cannot
think like humans for a variety of reasons, including the biological
basis of one and the mechanical basis of the other. Humans evolved
with a tendency toward cognitive biases as well as a capacity for
sudden brilliant intuitions. Humans also evolved to be unpredictable
(as an evolutionary advantage), and (as cognitive science reveals)
to make decisions that sometimes precede our conscious monitoring.
Biology can never be mechanism.

Julien La Mettrie argued for our machine status long ago in Man, a
Machine. He also thought cats were machines. Pure rubbish, as any
cat owner will tell you. The "we're all machines" claim reveals more
about the psychology of the claimant than about anything else. Poor
La Mettrie! Making a system about his not paying attention to

Reminds me of Laplace's dream of a super-intelligent mind that could
predict all of the future by knowing all of the Newtonian facts of
the present. A sadly refuted notion.

Both La Mettrie and Laplace were exhibiting creepy motives. What
disappointment in their lives urged them to explore such questions?
Should we ask a computer?


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