Norm Friesen on 20 Sep 2000 18:34:39 -0000

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RE: <nettime> The Age of Spiritual Machines (Review)

Algorithmic, heuristic "activity", the Age fo Spiritual Machines

I think that its important to remember in this discussion that the
algorithmic and heuristic activity that computers may be capable of in
limited subject domains says nothing about their ability to "think" --and
much less about their ability to provide "neural nets that operate
similarly to the human brain" (Stalder's review 9/19) or accommodate
wholesale downloads of someone's brain.

It seems to me that a significant flaw in Kurzweil's book (judging just by
Stalder's review) is that he engages in a sort of "morphological fallacy":
Just because the computer can mimic the end results of human thought
(mathematical discoveries, victories in chess, etc.) does not mean that
they are structurally or functionally similar to the thing that produces
these results.  As a result, computers may be much less ready to
accommodate the contents of our brains via a bulk "download".  Such
thinking also perpetuates a naive Cartesian dualism that recent research
has done much to undermine.  In addition, the last 4 decades of
spectacular failures in the realm of symbolic AI have should teach us that
simple homologies between human thought and computer processing should be
treated with the greatest skepticism.

Norm Friesen
Information Architect
CAREO Project
Academic Technologies for Learning
2-111 Education North
University of Alberta
T6G 2G5
(780) 492 7500 x223

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Roberto Verzola
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:21 AM
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Age of Spiritual Machines (Review)

 >This [heuristics] is not the kind of thinking that a computer can do,
 >and yet this is essential type of thinking to solve social problems of
 >all kinds, especially scientific problems.

Have you read about the program called Eurisko and its descendants?
They are supposed to be good at heuristics and have even made some
mathematical discoveries...

Roberto Verzola

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