Kosko on AI in L.A. Times

From: hal@finney.org
Date: Mon Jul 09 2001 - 16:30:04 MDT

Bart Kosko, whom some of you know, has an op-ed today in the Los
Angeles Times, at
(that link may not work after today):

   The movie "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" raises the wrong questions
   about our future with computers because it gets the technology
   wrong. It will be far easier to make us more like computers than to
   make computers more like us.

   Chip implants will make that possible because chips have so many
   advantages over brains and robots. Brains are wet and have random
   wiring. They need sugar and oxygen and sleep. They risk stroke and
   need a special cooling system for their thick skull-based housing.

   ...So the real question is not whether robots will replace humans
   but whether chips will replace brains.

   That question may raise many ethical issues, but the answer to it is
   surely yes. ... Moore's Law ... chips in 2020 or so will have the
   raw processing power of the human brain and will forever exceed it
   after that.

Of course he is glossing over the tremendous difficulties involved
in interfacing a chip to the brain in such a way that it can provide
meaningful information, especially if it is going to extend our memories
so that chip-based memories and data "feel" normal.

   The distant but inevitable step is not just to back up the brain but to
   replace it outright. Then the music of the mind will play on a digital
   instrument with almost godlike powers. Such chip minds will have a
   bit-based omniscience because they could access all knowledge and
   all databases at the speed of light and never forget any of it. They
   could easily relive and edit and alter any past physical or emotional
   experience and do so with the same "real" intensity as when someone's
   flesh first experienced it.

   Chip minds will have a bit-based omnipotence because they could
   create entire virtual worlds simply by imagining them. Let's not
   forget that the world we see "out there" is but an illusion in the
   neural circuitry of our brain's visual cortex.

   Even our subjective sense of time will change. We find the second a
   meaningful unit of time because electrical signals travel so slowly
   through our nerves. Chip time, or "nanotime," will be millions or even
   billions of times faster. One second of brain time will equal years
   or even decades of chip time. This will give chip minds a bit-based
   approximation of eternity. That also will mean a robot with a chip
   mind would find brain-based humans frozen as if they were clay models
   in a time-lapsed animation.

This part isn't consistent with the idea of chip implants, or even
chips replacing the brain within a biological body. Apparently he must
be talking about an upload scenario. Obviously you wouldn't want to
replace your brain with a chip going billions of times faster if your
body is still going about its business the same old way.

I thought this inconsistency weakened the article somewhat. While I
can understand that presenting the idea of uploading would undercut the
attractive picture he is painting, it's confusing at the end as we picture
our bodies standing around frozen while our minds zoom off into infinity.


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