Re: Jaron Lanier Got Up My Shnoz on AI

From: Dossy (
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 08:15:27 MST

On 2002.01.15, J. R. Molloy <> wrote:
> and of course, evolution is not sentient,

Would you care to defend that assertion?

While I might even agree with you, one could reasonably argue
that evolution is not sentient AND it isn't even random, therefore
it's not even creative. (If you argue that non-random acts of
creation are also creative, then mechanical clocks are also
"creative" when they display the time they are instructed to
keep, which is nonsensical.)

At a microscopic level, evolution appears to be very chaotic
and random. I'm talking at the level of thousands of years.

At the macroscopic level (billions of years) evolution seems
to be taking a very predictable path, and one could almost
predict that in another few hundred million years, what life
on Earth may be like (even given seemingly random catastrophic
events, which are not as random as they appear to be when
examining things at a macroscopic level).

> so it's evident that creativity can function independently of
> sentience.

It's also evident that where sentience is absence, what appears
to pass for creativity may not actually be creativity, merely
the action of creation. Creativity implies (to me) an external
influence that affects the product that is created.

Perhaps this illustrates the difference between the technical
definition of creativity versus what the lay-person takes
the word creativity to mean. A lay-person would find it very
difficult to agree that a mechanical clock telling the time
(a machine which creates a representation of a numerical value
that has meaning to an observer) as posessing creativity.

Worse, lay-people would find it very hard to agree that a
robot in an automobile manufacturing plant, "creating" the same
component over and over, posesses creativity.

> Superlative sentience (total awareness) can't be "achieved," so you
> don't have to worry about achieving it. It emerges spontaneously, and
> is like nothing that the brain can imagine, because it coincides with
> direct experience of reality, just the opposite of induced stupor.
> If sentience is easier to achieve than creativity, then sentience
> naturally precedes creativity. So, then what created the sentience?
> Obviously, creativity precedes sentience, otherwise evolution could
> never create sentience.

I don't think sentience is easier to create than creativity, but
I don't think that creativity necessarily precedes sentience.

The reason why it appears to us (humans) that it is easier to
achieve creativity than it is to achieve sentience is because
we know so very little about sentience. I don't think that
means that sentience is actually harder to create, and I think
it's very possible that evolution simply gave us sentience
(self-awareness) and that everything else (creativity, emotions,
etc.) are simply a part of that sentience.

I think until we get a much firmer grasp of what sentience
really is and what it consists of, we'll never actually produce
truly creative machines.

-- Dossy

Dossy Shiobara                       mail: 
Panoptic Computer Network             web: 
  "He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at your own
    folly -- then you can let go and quickly move on." (p. 70)

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