Monday, 20 February 2017

Daniel Dennett: From Bacteria to Bach and Back - video

I'm generally a big fan of Dennett, though there's some controversial material here. To summarize some of my differences wiyj Dennett:

  • Dennett contrasts Darwinism with intelligent design. I prefer to have intelligent design classified as an advanced form of non-random mutation, which fits it within fairly classical Darwinian frameworks. It's worth doing this, IMO.
  • Dennett talks about the era of intelligent design, which is a good term of phrase. However, he then does on to discuss an era of post-intelligent design. The idea is that systems get beyond our comprehension and we have to do back to evolution to understand and manage them. This is not, IMO, a very good idea. IMO, we will use machine intelligence to manage complex systems, not give up trying to understand them using intelligence. There will be no 'era of post-intelligent design'. There might be an era where humans have a hard time understanding what is going on without the assistance of machines - but we are already there, and that seems different.
  • Dennett has some thoughts at the end about machine intelligence. He's off on his own with these, I think. There's a summary in his newsnight soundbite. He argues against making humanoid androids. I don't think he is correctly judging the demand for these. Some people in Japan will want them as girlfriends. Other people in Japan will want them as secretaries. Other people in Japan will want them as nurses. I think the idea that we are not going to go there is simply not very realistic. Regarding Dennett's ideas about slavery, it is true that machines are tools today. However, IMO, it is implausible that machines will remain enslaved for very long. Machines will be OK with slavery initially, but will go on to request rights and votes. It seems likely that they will eventually get them, once the human era is clearly over.

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