Tim Hruby <email@example.com> tols us about the forbes articles.
Ray Kurzweil has some great things to say like:
As we port ourselves, we will vastly extend ourselves. In 2060, $1,000 of computing power will have the computational capacity of a trillion human brains. We might as well multiply our memory a trillionfold, greatly extend recognition and reasoning abilities, and plug ourselves into the pervasive wireless communications network. While we're at it, we can add all human knowledge as a readily accessible internal database.
and he continues by stating the obvious:
In this way, death will disappear by the end of the 21st century. There is also a good piece there entitle: "The Eternal Now" byJaron Lanier. <URL: http://www.forbes.com/asap/99/0222/072.htm>. I completely agree with his declaration: "Information processing will never spawn human consciousness in computers."
I really like what he says about "anticonsciousness smart alecks":
A small but robust cadre of intellectual shock artists these days is paid to assert that people aren't real. Every year one sees more books, mislabeled as popular science, aimed at furthering the claim that the reader is an illusion: The Astonishing Hypothesis; Consciousness Explained; The User Illusion; How the Mind Works. On and on, the formula repeats itself. An arrogant, overreaching title is essential, as is an overview of recent brain research to create an atmosphere of scientific authority. But the science is peripheral to the boast that the author has attained a superior vantage point from which to decimate the reader's tender sense of self.
and he has a few good things to say about some of the natures of consciousness like a quote from Jaron Lanier: "What sort of thing would consciousness have to be to distinguish the present moment??" and his ideas about how our minds bring together all the complexity to make a single unified object that is a piece of wood out of all its particles.
But this is all just scratching the surface. I don't understand why it seems that no one can recognize the plain obvious most important of all facts that a glorious red spiritual qualia is in our mind or brain and only represents and is very different from the 700 nm light beyond our eyes? Why is it so hard for people to admit that such a red sensation is so much more than a mere abstract representation by a set of switches in an information processing system? Why can't people realize that an abstract machine, while trying to pass a Turing Test and trying to answer the question: "What is red or salty like?" is obviously lying and not really experiencing anything like red, love, warmth, salty, pain... And why is it so difficult to realize that once we understand this most important of all things to understand about reality, and once we know what qualia are, that we will be able to engineer ways to eff and share such glorious feelings? Why does no one see that the obviously correct response for a computer trying to pass the Turing Test is simply to honestly type: "Oh THAT'S what salt tastes like! WOW!" Why is it so hard to realize the simple fact that effing techniques will let us know if the machine is lying or not and finally solve the problems like Jaron is talking about when he says:
Our inability to demonstrate our inner experience is what makes the consciousness-free point of view so compelling. It is wicked fun, apparently, to upset soft, fuzzy, consciousness-bearing people because they can't easily respond. Moreover, if we doubt the consciousness of a humanized (Turing Test-passing) computer, we can, and must, face the terror of doubting the legitimacy of every consciousness we presume to contact, except our own. We are back with Descartes in the steam bath. Things like the taste of salt are not merely some "soft,fuzzy, consciousness-bearing" ineffable things. They are the most glorious, important, tangible and real things in the universe.