Re: Jaron Lanier Got Up My Shnoz on AI

From: Jacques Du Pasquier (
Date: Sun Jan 13 2002 - 06:17:24 MST

You can read his "One Half Of A Manifesto" at

Then you can read Dennett's short answer at (you need to scroll a bit)

Quote from the latter : "Grow up and do some real criticism, worth
responding to."

(By the way, in that same answer, Dennett states that expecting to get
soon physical immortality through cell repair is a foolish
technocratic fantasy that bizarrely underestimate the complexities
of life.)

Colin Hales wrote (12.1.2002/10:47) :
> This is a dec 29 Guardian article on Jaron Lanier. Boy I wish we had more
> 'eccentics' like this around. We need 'em. He's well worth following. One of
> the great 'sleeping bear pokers'.
> The Guardian Profile -Jaron Lanier - The virtual visionary
> However, I'm a bit mystified by his attitude on AI. Maybe my logic is down
> the toilet. I can't tell, maybe you can.
> My thoughts, written after I read the article, I dump here.
> ===============
> Jaron Lanier is a regular at <>. He's always
> very challenging and seems to make sense. However, I don't understand his
> ideas about the limits of technology. We, humans, are technology. Just
> because we're constructed with DNA or any method you'd care to consider in
> no way invalidates another method for creation of intelligence. If it were
> possible to invalidate other methods we'd already know how to make it,
> making the whole ‘problem' moot!
> I am having trouble understanding how he could come to this position by
> means of logic, unless he sees far deeper into everything than me. I am
> willing to accept this, but I'd like to see some meat on the argument. All
> through the history of technological development reality, in my view, has
> outstripped the imaginations of the pundits. The trend is obvious. The
> possibilities are endless. Why would this kind of grey luddite view be view
> be put?
> Putting AI as an engineering goal is precisely what I'm doing. Thus
> according to his text I am “in a very strange position”, as a result. I
> suppose, if one has a very sincere belief in the insurmountable intellect of
> the human, then the prospect of creating our betters would be, to some
> extent, belittling. The scientific method has, for most of a millennium,
> decentralized humans from the center of the universe. Go back to Kepler and
> have a look. AI is the last step in the process. What exactly will make this
> next step not happen?
> I believe that one valid perspective on humanity is that we are part of the
> universe's self awareness. This is a great honour and an amazing thing, to
> be sure, but just a part. Possibly only part of a beginning. If I were
> convinced of myself as occupying a preeminent central end-point, I could
> thus feel somewhat miffed upon displacement. Getting beaten by your kids at
> <insert game of choice> is something like the way I will feel when it
> happens. A mixture of fear, pride and accomplishment.
> We will be known as ‘the old ones' by our progeny, who will take on forms we
> can only guess at, and leave for the stars. Seeing the technology as an aid
> to human communication only is a simple extension of what has been happening
> anyway - because we've been -so far -unable to allow AI to happen. Yes, I
> believe human capability will be enhanced - it's why we are doing AI in a
> multitude of flavours. But when a sentient AI emerges, believing that human
> enhancement is all that is going to happen would require the AI to be
> shackled and zombied, to keep us as ‘top dog'. History, I think, has proven
> that sort of imposed power struggle not to work in the long run.
> We need a devil's advocate - look what it's done - I'm trawling prose from
> my neurons. Not a bad thing, really. Jaron has made a good thing out of
> taking awkward and novel positions. In this case, I think it's a touch
> specious - No Sale.
> We're going to get out nifty human enhancers and tools and as well, it's OK
> with me just to help construct a God, and not to be one. He thinks it's
> religion to believe AI is possible, I think it's religion to hope that it
> can't.
> Colin

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