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Brendan Dixon: Even the skeptical Deep Learning researcher left out one AI myth

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Brendan Dixon
Brendan Dixon

Readers may remember Dixon from the time MIT tried building a universal moral machine. Here are some of his thoughts on one overlooked aspect of the “superintelligent AI” myth:

[Google AI researcher] Francois Chollet is right to recognize that we, like all animals, come pre-wired. Young deer stand, leap, and run within hours of birth. Birds build nests without prior instruction. Squirrels bury and find nuts. We speak and juggle abstract thoughts. But basic chemistry does not create language; while speaking may require chemical bonding and signaling, language rests on something more. Vision is another “chicken and egg” problem: The best human eye in the world is worthless without a nervous system to transmit the signals and a mind to interpret them. Chollet recognizes that these abilities are “required for human intelligence” so that it can make use of a human body. What he neglects to ponder is whence did they come? How does intelligence arise? Chollet raised the question without answering it.

He, unintentionally, introduces the same tension when he discusses feral children— children raised, literally, by animals in the wild. Unless rescued young, these children never develop into full, social humans; they remain unable to use human language. His point is that we require culture to develop culture and use our intelligence. I think you can see the problem: If we need culture to function, then whence came the culture in which we have all been raised? Which is the chicken and which is the egg?

I strongly support Chollet’s core observations. The super-intelligent AI myth is little more than a replacement “god” for those uncomfortable with traditional theism. It is an article of faith. And, like all uncritically held articles of faith, it induces blindness: blindness both to the real problems AI can cause (when we cede unwarranted control to the machines) and to the stunning magnitude of the human mind. More.

* Brendan Dixon is a Software Architect with experience designing, creating, and managing projects of all sizes. He first foray into Artificial Intelligence was in the 1980s when he built an Expert System to assist in the diagnosis of software problems at IBM. Though he’s spent the majority of his career on other types of software, he’s remained engaged and interested in the field.

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Also by Brendan Dixon: What Does It Mean to Be Intelligent? (Evolution News and Science Today:, 2016)

“Bob Dylan” is a mechanical mockingbird (Evolution News and Science Today:, 2017)

See also: Software pioneer says general superhuman artificial intelligence is very unlikely

and

There is no universal moral machine Brendan Dixon’s view of MIT’s Moral Machine is featured.

6 Replies to “Brendan Dixon: Even the skeptical Deep Learning researcher left out one AI myth

  1. 1
    FourFaces says:

    Very interesting observations.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    News, pardon a comment on the layout of the linked page; it is after all a DI blog. The background image makes the main text all but unreadable, I had to use the select feature to be able to see. Could someone please fix that. KF

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Worth pondering:

    We speak and juggle abstract thoughts. But basic chemistry does not create language; while speaking may require chemical bonding and signaling, language rests on something more.

    KF

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “We speak and juggle abstract thoughts. But basic chemistry does not create language; while speaking may require chemical bonding and signaling, language rests on something more.”

    In relation to that abstract ‘something more’, I read this very interesting article yesterday,

    The Illusionist – Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness. – 2017
    Excerpt: “So, for Dennett, language must have arisen out of social practices of communication, rooted in basic animal gestures and sounds in an initially accidental association with features of the environment. Only afterward could these elements have become words, spreading and combining and developing into complex structures of reference. There must then, he assumes, have been “proto-languages” that have since died away, liminal systems of communication filling up the interval between animal vocalizations and human semiotic and syntactic capacities.

    Unfortunately, this simply cannot be. There is no trace in nature even of primitive languages, let alone proto-languages; all languages possess a full hierarchy of grammatical constraints and powers. And this is not merely an argument from absence, like the missing fossils of all those dragons or unicorns that must have once existed. It is logically impossible even to reverse-engineer anything that would qualify as a proto-language. Every attempt to do so will turn out secretly to rely on the syntactic and semiotic functions of fully developed human language.”,,,
    – David Bentley Hart
    https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-illusionist

    And indeed, as to this irreducible, abstract, ‘something more’ of ‘grammatical constraints’ that lays behind any possible language, a group of leading Evolutionary scientists, after decades of intense research in this area, honestly admitted that they have, “essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.”

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    And although the purported evidence for human evolution is far more illusory than most people realize,,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-620536
    ,,, it was refreshing to see this honest, “we have essentially no explanation”, confession by leading evolutionary scientists in regards to the origin of the human capacity for language.

    The late best selling author Tom Wolfe was so taken aback by this honest confession by leading Darwinists that he wrote a book on the subject. Wolfe provided a précis of his argument:

    “Speech is 95 percent plus of what lifts man above animal! Physically, man is a sad case. His teeth, including his incisors, which he calls eyeteeth, are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet man owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.”
    —Tom Wolfe, in the introduction to his book, The Kingdom of Speech

    In other words, although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to become masters of the planet, not by brute force, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and, more specifically, infuse information into material substrates in order to create, i.e. intelligently design, objects that are extremely useful for our defense, shelter, in procuring food, furtherance of our knowledge, and also for our pleasure.

    And although the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial information into material substrates, that allowed humans to become ‘masters of the planet’, was rather crude to begin with, (i.e. spears, arrows, and plows etc..), this top down infusion of immaterial information into material substrates has become much more impressive over the last half century or so.

    Specifically, the ‘top-down’ infusion of mathematical and/or logical information into material substrates lies at the very basis of many, if not all, of man’s most stunning, almost miraculous, technological advances in recent decades.

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, ,,,
    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

    What is more interesting still, besides the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information and have come to dominate the world through the ‘top-down’ infusion of information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing scientific proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’ than finding both the universe, and life itself, are both ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and, moreover, have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our unique ability infuse information into material substrates.

    Verses:

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.

    Perhaps a more convincing evidence that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was indeed God.
    And that is precisely the claim of Christianity,,

    Video and verse:

    Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything – video
    https://youtu.be/x1Jw5Y686jY

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    As was touched upon in post 4, the main thing that is devastating to any purported reductive materialistic explanation of Darwinian evolution is that the ‘grammatical constraints’ that lays behind any possible language, are immaterial, abstract, constraints.

    That is to say, the ‘rules’ for how any material particulars are to be used in a language are in and of themselves abstract immaterial rules, and by virtue of being immaterial, are forever beyond the scope of any possible reductive materialistic explanation.

    The irresolvable problem that ‘abstract’ immaterial rules present for materialism is very similar to the problem outlined by Godel’s incompleteness theorem for mathematics.

    Namely, “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel (ref. on cite), halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.”
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010) @ 15-6

    And Gödel’s incompleteness theorem has now, finally, been extended to physics:

    In the following article entitled ‘Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics’, which studied the derivation of macroscopic properties from a complete microscopic description, the researchers remark that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,, The researchers further commented that their findings challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    This result should not be all that surprising.

    Much like the irreducible, immaterial, ‘abstract grammatical constraints’, that lay behind the origin of any possible human language, mathematics itself is infused with abstract immaterial rules that are forever beyond the scope of any possible reductive materialistic explanation.

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.
    https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: Mathematics is certainly something we do. Is mathematics “included in the space-time continuum [with] basic elements … described by physics”? It seems a stretch. What is the physics behind the Pythagorean theorem? After all, no actual triangle is perfect, and thus no actual triangle in nature has sides such that the Pythagorean theorem holds. There is no real triangle in which the sum of the squares of the sides exactly equals the square of the hypotenuse. That holds true for all of geometry. Geometry is about concepts, not about anything in the natural world or about anything that can be described by physics. What is the “physics” of the fact that the area of a circle is pi multiplied by the square of the radius? And of course what is natural and physical about imaginary numbers, infinite series, irrational numbers, and the mathematics of more than three spatial dimensions? Mathematics is entirely about concepts, which have no precise instantiation in nature,,
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/

    Platonic mathematical world – image
    https://image.slidesharecdn.com/quantuminformation2-120301000431-phpapp01/95/quantum-information-14-728.jpg?cb=1330561190

    Simply put, with language and mathematics, it is the abstract, immaterial, ‘context’ in which any material particle may reside that is forever beyond the scope of any possible reductive materialistic explanations.

    As Gödel himself succinctly put it,

    “In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. [9.4.12]

    That is to say, in regards to taking the abstract context of any given material particle into consideration, “The whole is required to give meaning to the part.”

    A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature – Book Review
    Excerpt: They focus instead on what “Methinks it is like a weasel” really means. In isolation, in fact, it means almost nothing. Who said it? Why? What does the “it” refer to? What does it reveal about the characters? How does it advance the plot? In the context of the entire play, and of Elizabethan culture, this brief line takes on significance of surprising depth. The whole is required to give meaning to the part.
    http://www.thinkingchristian.n.....821202417/

    And this irreducible abstract context of “The whole is required to give meaning to the part” is exactly the type of behavior that we find in biology.

    Specifically, as Dr. Jonathan Wells states in the following article, “It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.”

    Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism – Jonathan Wells – February 23, 2015
    Excerpt: humans have a “few thousand” different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,,
    The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It’s called genomic mosaicism.
    In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,,
    ,,,(then) “genomic equivalence” — the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA — became the accepted view.
    I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common.
    I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93851.html

    In other words, it is the abstract, immaterial, context of the organism that is the controlling factor that determines how the parts get used in an organism.

    It is not, as is presupposed in Darwinian thought, the parts that are defining what the organism will be.

    In fact, the unifying ‘form’, i.e. ‘context’, of an organism is now empirically found to forever be beyond the grasp of ‘bottom up’ Darwinian explanations:

    Darwinism vs Biological Form – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNzNPgjM4w

    Needless to say, this abstract, immaterial, context of an organism, that is the controlling factor that determines how the parts get used in an organism, is very suggestive to the Christian presupposition of a immaterial, ‘single unifying soul’ that is capable of living beyond death.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, unlike the evidence-free claims from Darwinists that unguided material processes can somehow, magically, generate immaterial information, the Christian Theist can, due to advances in quantum biology, now empirically demonstrate that there is a irreducible, even transcendent, immaterial information component to his material body, i.e. a ‘soul’, that is capable living past the death of his, temporal, material body.

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    As Stuart Hameroff states in the following video, ‘it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul’.

    “Let’s say the heart stops beating. The blood stops flowing. The microtubules lose their quantum state. But the quantum information, which is in the microtubules, isn’t destroyed. It can’t be destroyed. It just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large. If a patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says, “I had a near death experience. I saw a white light. I saw a tunnel. I saw my dead relatives.,,” Now if they’re not revived and the patient dies, then it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul.”
    – Stuart Hameroff – Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – video (5:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/jjpEc98o_Oo?t=300

    Shoot, besides providing empirical evidence for a ‘eternal soul’, and whereas, atheists have no compelling evidence for all the various extra dimensions, parallel universe and/or multiverse scenarios that they have put forth,

    Multiverse Mania vs Reality – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQJV4fH6kMo

    ,,,, Christians, on the other hand, can appeal directly to the higher dimensional mathematics behind Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity and General Relativity to support their belief that God upholds this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Verses and Music

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.

    Acts 3:15
    You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

    Psalm 139:13
    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Mark 8:37
    Is anything worth more than your soul?

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1QGnq9jUU0

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