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Philosopher: Why can’t AI have mystical experiences?


David O’Hara wonders whether technology could be part of some bigger plan to enable us to perceive other dimensions:

David O’Hara makes clear that he does not claiming that there is a God or any spiritual reality. He is saying that, assuming there were, machines may help us find them:

“Humility demands we recognize that we don’t have the final picture of reality. The more our technology has advanced, the more it has allowed us to see beyond the limits nature imposed upon our ability to see the world in all its detail…

“As our technology grows, it allows us to “see” deeper and deeper into the structure of the natural world. Is it possible that just as technology that imitated the eye has allowed us to see what the eye could not see, so technology that imitates the mind will allow us to perceive what the mind cannot perceive? – David O’Hara, “The Mystical Side of A.i.” at One Zero Medium”

Wait a minute. Our technology allows us to perceive things our physical senses cannot perceive. It does not allow us to perceive spiritual realities that no human faculty—or any enhancement of that faculty—can perceive in our present state. Indeed, the traditional view is that in a sinful state, one cannot see God and remain alive, except by an act of divine mercy.

Most traditional theists would say that we are not talking about what Dr. O’Hara seems to think we are talking about.

News, “And now… can AI have mystical experiences?” at Mind Matters News

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Common reasons for dismissing miracles are mistaken, study shows. Religious people are more likely to say they’ve experience a miracle but they aren’t the only ones who do. Educated and well-to-do people are just as likely to be part of the 57% who say they have experienced a miracle as poor and uneducated ones

First, all of our scientific instruments that enable to see, hear, 'taste', smell, and 'feel'' better than we normally do are intelligently designed. Not one scientific instrument, (i.e. telescope, microscope, spectroscope, microphone, "Taste sensor'. mass spectrometer, olfactometer, thermometer, pressure meter, weight meter, or etc.. etc..), was ever naturally constructed by nature and found just lying around on a beach somewhere. Every scientific instrument that man has ever invented has come about by man infusing immaterial mathematical and/or logical information into material substrate, via his immaterial mind, so as to construct instruments that enable us to 'see' further than we normally do. In short, there is nothing 'natural' about man practicing science. All of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based upon the presupposition of Intelligent Design and is certainly not based upon the presupposition of naturalism and/or methodological naturalism. Second, what the extension of out physical senses by our scientific instruments has revealed to us is that we most certainly live in an Intelligently Designed universe. Although atheists are notorious for claiming that the further science has progressed, the less the need for God as a explanation in science has become, (i.e. the infamous 'God of the gaps' argument), the fact of the matter is that the shoe is squarely on the other foot. That is to say, the further science has progressed the more the need for God as explanation in science has become, (and the less that atheistic naturalism makes any sense whatsoever.) Here are a few examples,
1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted space-time energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted space-time energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago. 2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence. 3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. - 4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) - 5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for intelligent life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).- 6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (G. Gonzalez; Hugh Ross). -
Third, his presupposition that humans can create machines that, basically, have immaterial minds, souls, and/or spirits, that are capable of having mystical experiences, i.e. of 'seeing' further than the human mind, soul, and/or spirit can see is, as Pauli would have put it, 'not even wrong'. As Michael Egnor noted, "The Turing test isn’t a test of a computer.,,, The Turing test is a test of whether human beings have succumbed to the astonishingly naive hubris that we can create souls."
Can a Computer Think? - Michael Egnor - 2011 Excerpt: A soul is not a material artifact, and the rational soul is not material at all. It cannot be “assembled.” Creation of a rational soul is creation of an entirely different order. It is a power to create from nothing. Perhaps this is the reason that many otherwise thoughtful philosophers cling to absurd materialist theories of the mind. If the mind is material, then we could create it from matter. We could create a soul. The Turing test isn’t a test of a computer. Computers can’t take tests, because computers can’t think. The Turing test is a test of us. If a computer “passes” it, we fail it. We fail because of our hubris, a delusion that seems to be something original in us. The Turing test is a test of whether human beings have succumbed to the astonishingly naive hubris that we can create souls. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/03/failing_the_turing_test045141.html
And as Michael Egnor succinctly stated elsewhere, "Your computer doesn’t know a binary string from a ham sandwich.,,, In a sane world, the proper suggestion to a fellow who believes that his computer knows things would be to tactfully suggest that he seek professional psychiatric help."
Your Computer Doesn’t Know Anything - Michael Egnor - January 23, 2015 Excerpt: Your computer doesn’t know a binary string from a ham sandwich. Your math book doesn’t know algebra. Your Rolodex doesn’t know your cousin’s address. Your watch doesn’t know what time it is. Your car doesn’t know where you’re driving. Your television doesn’t know who won the football game last night. Your cell phone doesn’t know what you said to your girlfriend this morning.,,, Your computer doesn’t know a binary string from a ham sandwich. Your math book doesn’t know algebra. Your Rolodex doesn’t know your cousin’s address. Your watch doesn’t know what time it is. Your car doesn’t know where you’re driving. Your television doesn’t know who won the football game last night. Your cell phone doesn’t know what you said to your girlfriend this morning. People know things. Devices like computers and books and Rolodexes and watches and cars and televisions and cell phones don’t know anything. They don’t have minds. They are artifacts — paper and plastic and silicon things designed and manufactured by people — and they provide people with the means to leverage their human knowledge. Computers (and books and watches and the like) are the means by which people leverage and express knowledge. Computers store and process representations of knowledge. But computers have no knowledge themselves. Programmers and computer manufacturers have knowledge. Programmers and computer manufacturers know that a particular binary string is an ASCII character versus a binary number, or an executable instruction set. Your computer is a tool that programmers and manufacturers design and build to put their human knowledge of binary strings and the like to practical use. People merely use computers to carry out computations. Ad Nausica’s implication is that the brain works like a computer, and that is how the brain endows us with knowledge in an entirely materialistic fashion. But the brain is not a computer (that’s another argument for another time), and if it were a computer, it could not be the sufficient cause of our knowledge, because computers cannot have any knowledge whatsoever. In a sane world, the proper suggestion to a fellow who believes that his computer knows things would be to tactfully suggest that he seek professional psychiatric help. It is remarkable how much damage has been done to our understanding of our world by materialist metaphysics. Note the irony: the same folks who believe that their household devices have knowledge and intelligence fail to notice the real evidence for intelligence in the formal and final causes that permeate nature. https://evolutionnews.org/2015/01/your_computer_d_1/
Of note, if O'Hara wants to 'see further' on the spiritual realm, I suggest that he, as O'Leary suggested, 'humbly' look to scriptures for guidance.
"A longer answer might be that the Scriptures, to name one principle source, are full of advice about how to get closer to God." - O'Leary
Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Of supplemental note:
The Easter Question - Eben Alexander, M.D. (Harvard) - March 2013 Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,, Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that -- a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn't simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one. But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it's-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,, We are, really and truly, made in God's image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation -- one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone. But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It's not the world we actually live in.,,, He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer... and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eben-alexander-md/the-easter-question_b_2979741.html
September 7, 2020
02:41 AM
The premise is flawed. "Technology that imitates the mind" only imitates the part of the mind that imitates technology. Computers think like people who think like computers. Reducing the fraction, computers think like computers. One semi-related point is true. Advances in tech make new analogies and metaphors possible. Programmers can use concepts like instantiation to understand certain theological ideas better. But beyond that, the tech itself can't do what O'Hara wants.polistra
September 6, 2020
09:32 PM

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