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Intelligent computers? You may as well believe that Penn and Teller really do magic

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A computer is not—in and of itself—smarter than a pile of tinkertoys, a philosopher argues:

“The thing to emphasize is that the computer is not in and of itself carrying out logical operations, processing information, or doing anything else that might be thought a mark of genuine intelligence—any more than a piece of scratch paper on which you’ve written some logical symbols is carrying out logical operations, processing information, or the like. Considered by themselves and apart from the conventions and intentions of language users, logical symbols on a piece of paper are just a bunch of meaningless ink marks. Considered by themselves and apart from the intentions of the designers, a Tinkertoy computer is just a bunch of sticks moving around, as stupidly as if they had been tossed down the stairs.” – Edward FeserMichael Egnor, “Computers are no smarter than tinkertoys” at Mind Matters News

Michael Egnor responds:

Feser is right. There’s not a shred of intelligence in a computer. Human beings are intelligent and we use computers to represent and leverage our human intelligence. All of the logic “in” a computer is really human logic, represented in a computer. All of the mathematics, all of the literature, all of the thought in a computer program is really just human thought, represented in the computation. Michael Egnor, “Computers are no smarter than tinkertoys” at Mind Matters News

Yes, that Ed Feser, the one who has been anti-ID. Michael Egnor is planning to interview him. Should be interesting.

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See also: Are electrons conscious?

and

Why apes are not spiritual beings

38 Replies to “Intelligent computers? You may as well believe that Penn and Teller really do magic

  1. 1
    Brother Brian says:

    I agree that current computers are not really intelligent. But I don’t thing we can conclude that they never will be. This conclusion is simply not possible if intelligent design is true.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, rocks have no dreams, i.e. they are governed by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Rearrange into a computational substrate and the same iron laws obtain. It is the “canned” intelligence that comes from designers and programmers which gives the similitude — too often that’s a generous estimation — of intelligent behaviour. Genuine freedom to reason and decide comes from a different order of being and the fact that if we deny ourselves as having such, we immediately descend into self-referential absurdity is a clue that the evolutionary materialistic picture is irretrievably broken. We are minded and mind is morally governed by laws of duty not chance and/or mechanical necessity. That already points to the required nature of the root of reality: adequate to ground moral government. That requires inherently good necessary being and as root of reality we are looking at creator too. KF

  3. 3
    EricMH says:

    The more interesting question for me is whether computers could ever exhibit behavior indistinguishable from human intelligence. Sure, it’s not “really intelligence” without conscious interpretation. But, if computers can completely replace human intelligence, then the arguments about consciousness do not seem so relevant.

  4. 4
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, rocks have no dreams, i.e. they are governed by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Rearrange into a computational substrate and the same iron laws obtain. It is the “canned” intelligence that comes from designers and programmers which gives the similitude — too often that’s a generous estimation — of intelligent behaviour.

    And that is why claiming that a computer can never be intelligent is incompatible with ID. If computers designed by an intelligent being (humans) can never be truly intelligent then humans, also designed by an intelligent being, can also never be truly intelligent.

  5. 5
    Brother Brian says:

    Eric@3, I agree with most of what you are saying. If we ever get to the point that computer “intelligence” is completely indistinguishable from human intelligence, how can we ever conclude that they are not truly intelligent. Most will probably argue that even though we can’t distinguish the computer intelligence from our own, they can’t really be intelligent because they were designed and built by us and any true intelligence is just an illusion. But if we ever get to that point, we have to start looking at ourselves seriously in the mirror. Especially if, as many here claim, life and humans were designed and built by an intelligent being. If the previous rationale is used to argue against the intelligence of the computer, the same argument would apply to humans. All of the navel-gazing will not change this.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    And that is why claiming that a computer can never be intelligent is incompatible with ID.

    Because you are unable to form a coherent argument?

    If computers designed by an intelligent being (humans) can never be truly intelligent then humans, also designed by an intelligent being, can also never be truly intelligent.

    That doesn’t follow.

    Look, the OP pertains to computers of TODAY. And the computers of today are not intelligent.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    EMH, yes, the analogy will certainly be made should we ever get there. The problem is the creativity and originality thus freedom to choose and act. That’s pretty clearly non algorithmic, non computed. By definition, not mechanically necessary, nor raw chance nor chance filtered by success — that would get killed by the needle in haystack problem. Mechanisations of reasoning (even “canning” of expertise have not worked out so well, once we move beyond narrow scopes. Common sense, inmsight, originality, creativity, wisdom, ethical judgement. KF

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, what is intelligence? KF

  9. 9
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, what is intelligence?

    Merriam-Webster

    1) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations.
    2) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria

    Cambridge

    the ability to learn, understand, and make judgments or have opinions that are based on reason

    Oxford

    The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

    And several very similar variations on this. Are you suggesting that it is not possible for something that is designed and constructed to ever meet these definitions?

  10. 10
    Nonlin.org says:

    And that is why claiming that a computer can never be intelligent is incompatible with ID. If computers designed by an intelligent being (humans) can never be truly intelligent then humans, also designed by an intelligent being, can also never be truly intelligent.

    What’s so hard to understand? Intelligence flows down.
    Humans are not intelligent enough to duplicate (let alone surpass) God’s creations. IOW, humans cannot design something more intelligent than themselves. But we sure can and do transfer some of our intelligence into our machines. Well, enough to impress animals and the dumber humans (atheists).

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, pardon; not operationally but ontologically, what is intelligence? KF

  12. 12
    Brother Brian says:

    Nonlin

    Humans are not intelligent enough to duplicate (let alone surpass) God’s creations.

    But we are not talking about God. We are talking about intelligent design, which I keep being told is not about God.

    IOW, humans cannot design something more intelligent than themselves.

    Why not? We make thinks stronger than us, faster than us, things that can see these at great distances, or things that are too small to be seen by the human eye. We make things that can perform tasks requiring motor skills far more intricate than is possible of us. We make things that perform calculation far better than we can. It seems to me that we excel at making things that can do things better than we can. Why would we assume that intelligence would be different?

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Tools- we make tools, mechanical tools. And intelligence is not a mechanical tool.

    We make and model things we understand. And until we can understand the brain we won’t be able to duplicate what it can do.

  14. 14
    Nonlin.org says:

    Brother Brian @12

    Just think about it. How do we make things “stronger than us, faster than us, things that can see these at great distances, or things that are too small to be seen by the human eye”…? By applying intelligence to all those. So what would you apply to intelligence to augment it? Extra force?
    http://nonlin.org/knowledge/
    9. Bootstrapping human intelligence to a higher level through chemical, genetic and other means has also been pursued. Simply adjusting one or more of the measures correlated with intelligence is likely to result in very limited upside to human peak intelligence as suggested by the natural variations of human intelligence that includes a downside as low as “braindead”, but not an upside as high as a “best one person musician-painter-physicist-chemist-physician-etc.” or a “best-by-far one area expert”.
    http://nonlin.org/ai/

    Fyi, ID is compatible with God. Much more than “she Nature” with Darwin.

  15. 15
    ScuzzaMan says:

    But we are not talking about God. We are talking about intelligent design, which I keep being told is not about God.

    For some people it is, and for some people it is not.
    Just as, for some people Darwinism is also about God, and for some it is not.

    You’ve been told that many times, too, but for some reason you keep eliding it.

  16. 16
    Brother Brian says:

    Nonlin

    So what would you apply to intelligence to augment it? Extra force?

    Extra intelligence. The advancement in computer technology does not occur in a vacuum, and is not the result of a single intelligence. If all of our computers had to be created by Steve Jobs and all of the software that runs on it by Bill Gates, where do you think we would be today? We probably wouldn’t have gotten much past Pong.

    The intellectual “power” of a thousand people is far greater than that of one person. Even if we accept your claim that a human intelligence can’t create something more intelligent than that human, doesn’t that mean that harnessing the intelligence of thousands of people will change the baseline?

    Fyi, ID is compatible with God.

    ID is dependent on God.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, it looks a lot like, reality is dependent on God, especially that morally governed reality such as we experience that has the attributes we term intelligence. I add: which brings to bear the ontological question, what is intelligence as to its nature, being, core characteristics. KF

  18. 18
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    ID is dependent on God.

    Except for the fact that ID does NOT require God.

  19. 19
    Seversky says:

    It sounds to me as if intelligence in this context requires a degree of consciousness or self-awareness. If that’s the case, then modern computers are not intelligent since, so far as I;m aware, none of them exhibit signs of consciousness. Does that mean they never will? Since we are having a hard time understanding how human conscious intelligence works, it’s hard to say. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if our descendants were working with something like a Lt Cdr Data around in two or three hundred years time but I can’t say that’s inevitable. Would we say he is intelligent?

  20. 20
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, it looks a lot like, reality is dependent on God, especially that morally governed reality such as we experience that has the attributes we term intelligence.

    That assumes that the moral governance you keep taking about is based on a God given objective morality. Something that has been discussed here ad nauseum, with arguments that are not compelling and not supported by centuries of recorded history.

    I add: which brings to bear the ontological question, what is intelligence as to its nature, being, core characteristics.

    I don’t see any ontological question with regards to intelligence. The definitions I provided are sufficient to define human intelligence.

    ID is an inference based on the fact that all instances of IC (functionally specific information, etc.) where a cause is known are caused by an intelligent agent (ie, human). Therefore, following this same inference to its logical conclusion, there is no reason why a human intelligence can’t design and built a computer that is, itself, intelligent. To deny this is to admit that humans intelligence is an illusion. If an intelligent being can create another intelligent being, what prevents the created intelligent being from creating another one? Either intelligence can creat autonomous intelligence or it can’t.

  21. 21
    Nonlin.org says:

    BB @16
    There is no “extra intelligence”.
    Intelligence is not additive or else a big enough flock of sheep may get as smart as a human or at least as a whale/ape/… But they don’t.
    Also, the output (intelligence of our machines) is not even close to the input (our human intelligence). And it never will be. Learn about efficiency losses in physics.

    ID is the scientific theory to counter the Darwinist [easily proven false and illogical] “theory”. But the argument on both sides is about religion which has always been the basis (and is inseparable) of science http://nonlin.org/philosophy-religion-and-science/. Be honest with yourself. If you have the smarts, that is.

  22. 22
    Nonlin.org says:

    BB @16,
    To clarify, you are are known to be ignorant and proud – basically a waste of time (and a true Darwinist).
    I am only replying for the benefit of others that might also be uninformed while [hopefully] less stubborn. You will do well to read the linked essays and try to understand them. Only then you can produce at least half decent counterarguments.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    Pardon, but how you love to project “assumes,” when, repeatedly, the comparative difficulties challenge to account for moral government has been shown to you, just side-stepped. Similarly, above, you have not cogently addressed the issue of what is intelligence beyond operational definition. Nope, we all have worldview roots with finitely remote first plausibles, so — as you know or should acknowledge and address seriously — comparative difficulties obtains as the answer to question-begging circularity.

    In addition your bald assertions of denial and dismissal are patently false. (Were that not so you would have given the devastating answer in a nutshell. A clue to what is really afoot here: dismissal and distraction.)

    Let’s review.

    For one, in your argument you confidently expect that we will recognise that we are duty-bound to truth, right reason (including adequate warrant), prudence, fairness, etc. This of course reflects moral government of our intelligent life in its core functions; that is, we see here an implicitly generally acknowledged law of our nature showing how it is morally governed. Those who do not distract from or dismiss but openly reject this immediately expose themselves as chaotic. But those who resort to distractions, dismissive rhetoric or selectively hyperskeptical shifting of the burden of warrant are just as chaotic, but not as obvious.

    Those who dismiss, disregard, deny or distract attention from the moral government of our core intelligent functions tied to rationality serve irrationality rather than soundness.

    The matter is clear: we are under moral government of our intelligent faculties, on pain of chaotic breakdown and surrender to the strategy of who is the most power-backed, clever deceitful manipulator. That already tells us about a key ontological — nature and logic of being — distinction between intelligence and the behaviour of computational substrates: they are physically governed, not rationally and thus morally governed. Thus also, we see that conscious awareness of and government through moral duty is a key component of the sort of language-using, symbolic representation using, concept and abstraction based rationality and intelligence we possess.

    This is already quite a clue as to its nature as transcending the limits of computation and being free, rational and responsible.

    So, now, in a post Hume world, how can such be well founded? As in, we know from his “surpriz’d” guillotine argument that if morality, ought comes in at any later stage than the world-root, the root of all actual and/or possible worlds, it will fall to the challenge of ungrounded ought: IS –> IS –> IS –> ????? –> OUGHT, OUGHT. This is an ontological question, and as we have seen, it is directly connected to the nature and function of rational, conceptual, responsible intelligence.

    We need a world-root capable of adequately grounding ought, an IS that is also by the nature of that IS, also a proper root of OUGHT. Root of reality, framework to all actual and possible worlds already implies necessary and so causally independent, eternal being. (Where, we have no good warrant to infer that a quasi-physical, causal-temporal order can extend beginninglessly into a thus transfinite past. Rendering the traversal of the transfinite implicit does not remove it from being a supertask. Where also, the sort of fluctuations in a root-verse model that has been put on the table recently, carries the overwhelming likelihood that this would be a grand delusion, Boltzmann brain world, an absurdity.)

    For such a being to be an adequate root of morality, it also needs to be inherently moral, indeed inherently good and maximally good. Otherwise, we are right back at ungrounded ought. 200+ years post Hume, the history of philosophy is littered with proposed alternatives that have failed, leading to the spreading of subjectivism, relativism, amorality, undermining of recognition of the law of our morally governed nature and now to a civilisation level voyage of folly thanks to agit prop media manipulation and lawfare. Pushing back 2300+ years, we see Plato posing the Euthyphro dilemma, so called, which boils down to an attempt (still often used) to suggest that the IS-OUGHT gap is hard to bridge. Yes it is, and only the inherently good, maximally great, necessary being as root of reality is a serious candidate.

    If you doubt this, this is phil not dogmatic assertions, simply put up an alternative: ________ and show how such fares on comparative difficulties: ____________ . (Harder to do than one might imagine.)

    In that context, it is unsurprising that you then ducked back into operational descriptions as to how we may recognise the presence of or even test the degree of effective intelligence that is present. That’s not the root of the matter, what, as to essential nature (per logic of being) is intelligence? As in, what marks it apart from programmed instinct or algorithms and data bases blindly acting out their programming, or the like, giving it a distinct, recognisable identity that we may reckon with.

    We can see already, that intelligence is free, responsible, morally governed, not mere computation or blind instinct. That is, it is capable of recognising and sufficiently grounding truth and right that it can know and reason, it is reflexive in action, it is self-moved in material part. It is not externally governed or driven and controlled by non-rational forces and factors, or else it falls to grand delusion in an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions. Once grand delusion enters, it gobbles up rationality and intelligence, as the level one delusion and perhaps perceiving it as delusion instantly gives rise to, but isn’t this also likely a delusion, thence levels 2, 3 etc.

    We may err, but that is itself tied to the self-evident truth that error exists, which is immediately seen as true and necessarily true on pain of instant patent absurdity, readily recognised by one with enough experience to understand. And yes, self-evidence is a second clue, intelligence is capable of recognising specific key incorrigible or undeniably or inescapably true propositions, which then serve as plumb-line truths that test our canons or yardsticks of warrant, reasoning, knowledge etc.

    Thus, grand, global delusion is absurd.

    So also is any worldview or scheme of thought that locks us up into appearances without a sound bridge to the reality of things in themselves. (And yes, Kantians and kin, I am looking at you.) Immediately, too, relativism, subjectivism and solipsism collapse. We already saw that we have good reason to set aside Plato’s cave, brain in vat, Boltzmann brain etc delusional models.

    We are already seeing elements of what intelligence is, it is not reducible to computations on a material substrate precisely because it is free, significantly free and self-moving, under moral not merely physical government (= blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, trial and error — overwhelmed by vast configuration spaces so there is just too much haystack to search for needles — etc). Computing is not intelligence though intelligence may use computing or may be hosted by/ resident in such an entity.

    Materialistic reductionism does not make the cut.

    Reppert aptly sums up:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions

    J B S Haldane comes up in support:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    Inch by hard fought inch, we have come back to where musings on intelligence began, 2300+ years ago. Here, Plato speaking in the voice of the Athenian Stranger [= the ghost of Socrates?], in The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    We are back at recognising that the material order does not exhaust reality, that rational, responsible morally governed intelligence is an attribute of the self-moved self-acting entity traditionally termed the soul. That is, the intelligent mind is an aspect of our en-souled nature, and finds its root in the inherently good, ultimately wise, necessary and maximally great creator God, root of reality.

    We may reject or dismiss such, but will soon enough see the insuperable difficulties entailed by such a move.

    Intelligence lies in the root of reality, as does moral government. So, it is unsurprising that the framing of our observed world embeds fine tuning that sets up C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life, which is in part manifested in alphanumeric code that drives the protein synthesis process at the heart of an operating cell. Yes, code-using, symbolic language and algorithms (so, purpose!) are antecedent to and are embedded causes of cell based life. Design screams out at us from the heart of the living cell, pointing to designer. Where already, a cosmos that facilitates those cells is replete with fine tuning pointing to intelligent design of a cosmos. We are looking for an intelligent designer capable of designing and making a cosmos. For a creator, in short.

    Moreover, major body plans are impossibly information rich for blind chance and/or mechanical necessity to be plausible as causes. Then, we see ourselves, intelligent, morally governed, self-aware, rational and responsible creatures whose inner lives and observed world jointly point back to the bill of requisites for the root of reality.

    That bill of requisites points to the often unwelcome fact that there is just one serious candidate to fill the bill: the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of our loyal recognition, respect and reasonable responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    In this context, intelligence is the rational faculty of the self-moved, reflexive ensouled moral agent, a hybrid entity that is embodied, en-conscienced, self-aware (so capable of reflexivity) and significantly free under moral government of known laws of such a nature. Laws that start with duties to truth, right reason (so, adequate warrant), prudence, fairness (so duties to neighbour of like morally governed nature) and more. Yes, it manifests itself in conceptual thought, language and so also distinct symbols, reckoning with quantitative and structural abstracta and their concrete embedding, reasoning, judging, creativity and more, those are the flowings- out that point to the well-springs within.

    KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    NL, I come from goat country (where goats are seen as smart enough) but here, “stupid sheep” is proverbial. I guess the wild sheep was a lot smarter, but breeding for docility knocked that out. Of course, pooled stupidity does not move to higher level intelligence. However, evolutionary thinking is so ingrained now that earlier this week I noted how a blatant case of design is discussed as though it is blind evolution: https://uncommondescent.com/computing-ai-cybernetics-and-mechatronics/bbc-on-the-evolution-of-robots-missing-the-by-design-part/ I guess it is unsurprising that the likes of our usual objectors failed to reckon with the implications of the BBC’s blunder. KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, yes, intelligence here is clearly about the rational aspect of agency, the self-aware, concept-using, symbolically reasoning self-moved entity in action. Yes, we recognise distinction and so can construct meaningful patterns and systems of symbols capable of accurately representing and responding to reality . . . language, propositions, Mathematics etc. Yes, we freely and reflectively evaluate, find coherent, find plausible, come to believe, may warrant as credibly true and so know — or may err or may willfully deceive . . . symbols and representations are a double-edged sword. Knowledge already embeds a lot of judgement and prudential duty as well as duty to truth. Thus, we are already locked into the moral government of our rational nature as part of what makes us intelligent. We may be able to act into the world, applying knowledge to acquire skills and then using skills and techniques and styles to express ourselves creatively to good advantage. All of such manifest the self-evaluation that governs intelligent action. We live in community and see that such intelligence is enhanced by learning but not all can learn anything or everything, so we come up with differential scales and call them IQ tests. We forget that potential may be locked in and so use connexions to sex or race or class etc to lock out the despised other, indeed rationalising breeding programmes, called eugenics. Intelligence can be not only locked in but may be abused to lock others out. Intelligence must be morally governed or it becomes destructive. KF

  26. 26
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    ID is an inference based on the fact that all instances of IC (functionally specific information, etc.) where a cause is known are caused by an intelligent agent (ie, human). Therefore, following this same inference to its logical conclusion, there is no reason why a human intelligence can’t design and built a computer that is, itself, intelligent.

    That doesn’t follow. Can beavers build an intelligent system capable of producing dams?

    To deny this is to admit that humans intelligence is an illusion.

    That doesn’t follow.

    If an intelligent being can create another intelligent being, what prevents the created intelligent being from creating another one?

    We do. It’s called sexual reproduction.

    Either intelligence can creat autonomous intelligence or it can’t.

    It can. Look at all the non-originally designed humans.

  27. 27
    Brother Brian says:

    Nonlin

    There is no “extra intelligence”.
    Intelligence is not additive or else a big enough flock of sheep may get as smart as a human or at least as a whale/ape/… But they don’t.

    Baahh.

    Yet there are thousands of instances of great advances being made because of the cumulative and cooperative input from numerous individual intelligent beings. Advances that would be impossible for a single intelligent being. Openheimer didn’t design and build the atomic bomb by himself. Niels Bohr didn’t put a man on the moon all by himself.

    You still have not provided credible rationale for why the cumulative and cooperative input from hundreds of individual intelligent beings could not produce a computer that was as intelligent as an average human. I agree that it is highly unlikely that we ever will, but highly unlikely and impossible are not the same thing.

  28. 28
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    Yet there are thousands of instances of great advances being made because of the cumulative and cooperative input from numerous individual intelligent beings.

    Baaah. That doesn’t mean that INTELLIGENCE is additive. Knowledge is additive. There is difference between knowledge and intelligence.

    You still have not provided credible rationale for why the cumulative and cooperative input from hundreds of individual intelligent beings could not produce a computer that was as intelligent as an average human.

    For one, it’s dumb to engage with anyone who wants you to prove a negative, other than to point out the fact that said person is oblivious to reason.

  29. 29
    FourFaces says:

    This is repost from another thread on artificial intelligence.

    Christians and ID supporters are mistaken about AI. But then again, so are Darwinists, materialists and atheists. Not only will we have human-level artificial intelligence in the not too distant future, it will come from the one place that nobody expects: Christianity. Intelligence does not have to be conscious. It’s just cause and effect. There is no reason we cannot build a robot that can walk into a generic kitchen and prepare a breakfast of sausage with scrambled eggs, coffee and pancakes. Will robots be conscious? Of course not. It takes both a soul and a body to be conscious.

    Why do I say that true AI will come from Christianity? Because the secret of intelligence (among other things) has already been given to the faithful in the form of occult (metaphorical) scriptures. It’s hiding in plain sight. Just saying.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    FourFaces:

    There is no reason we cannot build a robot that can walk into a generic kitchen and prepare a breakfast of sausage with scrambled eggs, coffee and pancakes.

    Only because it was programmed to do so by a human. Build a robot that can taste the food to tell if it is ready and good enough to serve, and you will have something.

  31. 31
    FourFaces says:

    ET:

    Only because it was programmed to do so by a human. Build a robot that can taste the food to tell if it is ready and good enough to serve, and you will have something.

    That’s just it. No human can program a robot that can walk into a generic kitchen and prepare a breakfast of sausage with scrambled eggs, coffee and pancakes. It’s way too complex. We will, however, be able to program a robot that can learn to do it just like a human. And yes, we can build machines that can taste and smell food via chemical sensors.

  32. 32
    ET says:

    FourFaces:

    We will, however, be able to program a robot that can learn to do it just like a human.

    That is way too complex and the robot would require more power than a battery could supply.

  33. 33
    FourFaces says:

    ET:
    I think I said all I needed to say. Thanks for the input.

  34. 34
    EricMH says:

    @KF

    Yes, we at MindMatters often point to things like creativity and claim they are not computable. I think so myself. But, do we have hard proof, quantitative evidence? The argument certainly appeals to common sense, but the opponent can still claim we just haven’t discovered the right intelligence algorithm yet. Algorithm of the gaps just like Darwinism of the gaps. And, the one benefit such gap explanations have is it leaves open the possibility of a mechanically understandable explanation. To close the door on such a possibility without something very concrete looks like obscurantism.

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    EMH, isn’t it well known that most things aren’t reducible to algorithms [ –> finite, stepwise processes that move from a defined initial state to a targetted end point], and that in the relevant search spaces we therefore cannot blindly search for same? That is, algorithms that work are not searchable by some sort of iterative evolutionary process where we see a nice uphill slope to the optimum reachable by random small changes and hill climbing? Much as, coherent, relevant sentences are? That is, algors are higher order targets in a search space where searches are subsets so for a space of n possibilities, the set of searches comes from the power set of scale 2^n, i.e. as we go higher order the search challenge gets exponentially worse so blind search for a golden search quickly becomes an untenable strategy? That is, we are back to deeply isolated islands of function. Algorithms that work reasonably well manifest purpose, insight and design. KF

  36. 36
    EricMH says:

    @KF, yes, the vertical no free lunch applies. However, this is not obvious to many people. They think, somewhat obscurely, that maybe we could create a database or some sort of fancy neural network, or combination, that can do this search as effectively as the human mind. All humans have to learn things to even design algorithms, and this learning seems similar to sticking data in a database.

    Since there are lots of analogies between computers and humans the idea that there is something inherently non-computational about the human thought process does not stand out as immediately obvious.

    I see this even here at UD and in the writing at MM. Many of the arguments put forth just seem to imply AI is maybe technically too hard for us, and won’t be quite the same as human intelligence since it is not conscious. However, I rarely see anyone argue that AI is just flat out impossible on technical grounds. Jonathan Bartlett is the only one who has made this sort of argument. Also, I see numerous pro-ID writers leave open the idea that the human mind is just a fancy AI written by God.

    So, despite people saying it’s obvious that AI cannot replicate the human mind, they do not write consistently with this statement in other arenas.

    This has bearing on the ID argument, too. If the human mind could be a fancy AI, then why couldn’t God also be an even fancier AI that came about through some untapped incredible pool of probabilistic resources that are currently beyond the reach of science? This is consistent with the informal ID argument:
    1. Human intelligence is the only creator of CSI we know of.
    2. The natural world is full of CSI.
    3. Therefore, intelligence is the best explanation for natural CSI.
    So, if point #1 can be explained with the human mind as AI, then so can point #3.
    And thus we are right back to the naturalist position that everything can be reduced to chance and necessity, although now we call chance and necessity ‘god’.

    What is needed is a positive, technical argument that intelligence is non-algorithmic. And this argument must be empirically testable in some way and mathematically provable.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    EMH,

    intelligence cannot be algorithmic, on pain of breakdown of rationality. As a sampler, try Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Haldane makes a similar point:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    That is, genuinely freely rational contemplation cannot reduce to computation, databases, neural networks, analogue computers, memristor matrix mesh weighting factors (never mind how much I respect the powers of weighting and combining operations on Mathematical arrays), evolutionary searches (other searches too) etc. The difference is categorical, not merely one of degree of sophistication.

    There is an irreducible, reflexive, contemplative, insightful, volitional component to rationality that indicates that there is something we have not seen in our computation on a substrate oriented theorising.

    Nor does reducing God to Boltzmann brain status work.

    KF

  38. 38
    EricMH says:

    @KF I agree that from introspection our minds’ operation does not look at all like symbolic manipulation and there are deep philosophical problems with assuming it to be such. However, that does not answer the question whether there is an inherent operational difference between mind and machine. Is it possible to craft a machine that can produce all the same effects as a human mind, observed externally?

    Similarly, the CSI calculation and ID argument is posed from this external perspective. If a machine intelligence can emulate the human mind and generate CSI, then there is no inherent logical reason why nature’s CSI is not the product of a mechanical intelligence.

    All the ID argument can identify is there is a vast amount of missing probabilistic resources. Either they are generated de novo by some causal agency that transcends chance and necessity (which needs a definition rather than just being labeled “intelligence”), or there is a huge or unlimited probabilistic source that still operates according to chance and necessity. We rule out the latter possibility by pointing to the human mind’s ability to generate CSI, which is based on the implicit premise the mind’s operation cannot be replicated mechanically.

    Hence, it is a sort of bait and switch to insist the origin of nature’s CSI cannot be mechanical purely from introspection of the human mind, if we cannot rule out the possibility the mind can be emulated by a machine.

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