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Machines will never think as well as humans

© December 2004 Tony Lawrence

Referencing: Reflections on the limits of artificial intelligence by Alexandru Tugui

I get so annoyed by articles like this.

Human brains ARE machines. Any argument that any idiot wants to make against machines ever being capable of anything can be applied with equal validity to our own brains.

I am, of course, ignoring any religious nonsense. If you are of the opinion that some god has infused something mystical into humans, then of course you don't see that biological brains aren't anything special. That's fine, you run along and have a good life while I continue complaining. As you leave, I might want to ask what the purpose of that brain organ is if your mysterious addition is what really runs the show, and why physical damage to that organ so easily interferes with the magical functions so thoughtfully provided, but never mind - you just go along now.

For the rest of us: morons like this person need to remember that reflexivity is not a law of the universe. A hammer is a tool, a hammer cannot saw wood, therefore no tool can saw wood is instantly seen as an idiotic syllogism, but somehow equally stupid statements about the limitations of machines with regard to intelligence are happily swallowed whole. Artificial intelligence may be unreachable with a x86 processor, but x86 processors do not define the limitations of machines.

If machines cannot be intelligent, then we aren't machines. That's about as simply as it can be said. So, I'd like to ask the fools who insist that machine intelligence has limits one question:

If our brains aren't machines, then what the hell are they?

Never mind. They won't answer that. They'll prattle on about entropy and boolean logic and other nonsense. Why? Why do people think humans are so unusual? We really aren't: any honest look at animal intelligence shows where we came from and how we evolved. Yes, artificial intelligence is far, far away from us right now. But so is a flatworm, yet those without religious prejudice know full well that primitive nervous systems are the building blocks that created more complex and capable systems. There's no magic here. There may be mystery: processes we don't yet understand. So what? No matter how complex something is, it still obeys the laws of physics and can be duplicated artificially. Maybe not now, maybe not for ten thousand years, but it can and will be done. There are no more limitations for artificial intelligence then there are for biological. None.

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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

---December 10, 2004

It's because the mind/brain is part of the physical manifistation of the physical body. Without it you cannot function properly in this world. Everything you see and experiance is due to interpretations that you mind makes on the enviroment, it controls everything you know, everything you see. To you your brain is the only reality that you experiance. Now outside your mind/brain there is a real world, but we are fundamentally limited by our own physical bodies.

Your brain is like your computer to the internet. If your OS is screwed up (analogous to your emotions) then the likely hood that your going to be able to properly render a web page is comprimised. You know that the reality of the electrical signals that make up the internet is vastly different media then what you experiance when you view your web page, but your web page (or other protocols) is the only access you have to data that exists out there.

If you damage your mind you can color your emotions, it can change how you see things, how you experiance things. Why does it seem to so many people that thru damaging the functions of their brain temporarially seems like a spiritual experiance?

That's also why you have one of the major tenets of chistianity is that you cannot judge a person. Now a lot of people do it and they call themselves christians, and it also doesn't mean that you can't make judgements (like handing your kid over to a convicted child molester is a realy bad idea, even if he was a priest). Fundamentally you can never have access to that person's private reality that is created by their brains and their minds. The spiritual eliment is something seperate and the only person who can make a fundamental final judgement is God himself, since he was one that designed how the universe works in the first place and has ultimate understanding.

Your brain, your mind, your body is somethng that is fundamentally seperate from your spiritual element. Of course your brain is a machine, of course it can be analized to find your emotions (like your programming. If it wasn't for emotions and instincts our brains would be VERY inneffient and it would be much harder to survive in the real world.) You can see the chemicals react and guide your desicions. It is completely responsable for everything you see, feel, touch, smell, hear. Everything.

However non-the-less your brain is not you. It's only a part of you. And like any other machine it can be replicated and improved on. Now of course if their is no soul to hook it up too then it even a improved version can't ever be human.

Your brain and your body isn't YOU as much as this text message isn't ME, although that's all you can currently perceive me as. That and the image your mind creates for you so you can have somebody to interact with.

Mind + Body (which your brain is a part of) + Soul = you.

Mind != you

Body != you

Soul != you

Of course your soul can have a different body, but unfortunatly your memories and current emotions/insticts won't survive the final reformat.



---December 10, 2004

I'm sorry. I understand you believe in some "soul" thing, and I respect your right to do so, but the belief itself is nonsense. Human beings are biological machines. There is nothing else. Duplicate the biology, and you duplicate the human.

As I said in the first paragraph, if you have these religious beliefs, of course you will think that no machine can ever attain human intelligence. You are sadly wrong, but nothing I can say will show you that, because you WANT to believe it. And because you do want to believe, I have no real desire to take that away from you even if I could. If it makes you happy, I'm all for it - just stay out of AI research for your own good :-)


---December 11, 2004

Who said anything about AI? Of course machines can be very intellegent. I am not going to feel threatened by a lump of silicon, even if it is smarter then me. The body is a machine, it can be replicated, human thought can be replicated, memories and emotions can be replicated.

But that's what makes sceince so cool, becuase you can slice and dice the brain, figure out to the microscopic level every inate functioning of every part of the brain, and you know what? It's still going to leave people with more questions then answers.


---December 11, 2004

Well, that's where we have to disagree. There are more questions than answers NOW,but that will change. It's going to be difficult socially because of religious beliefs, but that's always been the case: science pushes religion back, and religion becomes more and more mystical. We started with sun gods and storm gods, and science destroyed that. We had gods creating the Earth, and science took that away. The same thing will eventually happen with "souls", and of course that takes care of the "afterlife", which leaves religion with not much to offer.

The "slice and dice" comment is a favorite one today, but it's only valid in the same sense that you could let most of the world take apart a computer and they wouldn't understand it. We WILL understand organic intelligence and WILL duplicate it. It is inevitable.

But that's a long, long time away, most likely.


---December 11, 2004

Good luck then! So you think that someday science will provide you answers for everything, eh? That's some faith you got there.

The problem is that when it all finishes up and science will provide you with the answers everybody is looking for then are you going to be suprised when the answers they find are very similar to what I beleive?

It's not like I wasn't a athiest for a long time, you know. But sometimes a person has to question what they beleive.


---December 11, 2004

Depends on what you mean by "answers:. Yes, I believe science is always improving, and that we will have intelligent theories about everything. In some sense, nothing is ever 100% certain - even if you can demonstrate the creation of a universe, and have a complete theory that covers all of physics with no contradictions or problems, you can't absolutely be sure that you are right.

The religious love to hang their god-stuff on that nail, but it's like saying the earth is round and orbits a star in a circular orbit: that's wrong, but it's a helluva lot closer to truth than saying it's a shield supported by a giant turtle.

That's the goal of science: to move closer to truth. Religion is stagnant - it's always "god did it". Useless answer, and we keep driving it back - no, god isn't a thunder cloud, no the sun isn't a god, no, god didn't create humans out of clay, etc. Again: evolution doesn't show us the complete lineage of human development and may have errors in particulars, but it is closer to the truth than creationist nonsense.

Faith that science moves us closer to the truth is not the same as faith that some invisible god-thing rules the universe. Science allows for testing and progress forward, religion doesn't test, doesn't advance, always has the same silly answers.


"So you think that someday science will provide you answers for everything, eh? That's some faith you got there."

No more faith than exhibited by the average religious nut.

I have a *LOT* of faith in objective thinking and use of scientific methods. Were it not for science, we'd be back in the Stone Age, fending off saber-tooth cats with sticks, attempting to kill game by throwing rocks, and trying to get a fire started to keep warm. It is scientific method and discipline that has brought humankind to where it is today, not religious beliefs.

My opinion of religion is that it is nothing more than a organized manifestation of superstition and ignorance, just a lot metaphysical bullshit from which enormous and undeserved wealth has been harvested. I'm constantly amazed that supposedly educated people would actually buy into this crap. In any case, as the comedian Lenny Bruce once observed, anyone who says he's a man of God and owns more than one suit is nothing but a hustler as long as there is someone who has no suit.


---December 11, 2004

Well, educated and quite intelligent people DO have these beliefs. I also find that hard to understand, but it remains true regardless of my amazement.

And I don't think "soft" religion is harmful. It's comforting, and it can cause people to do selfless acts -
but of course religion isn't necessary for that.

I understand BDD's attitudes, but the reality is that we are far outnumbered by believers, "soft" and otherwise. I don't worry about the soft ones - it's the hard core fundy morons that scare me.


There's no shortage of the hard core types in the Middle East. &lt;Grin Smile&gt;


---December 12, 2004

No shortage in the U.S., either - both Xtian and otherwise


---January 13, 2005

Try explaining how we can refer to anything at all, if that 'anything' is to be reduced to nothing but the actual behaviour of the machine uttering it. To talk about anything at all above simply making grunting noises requires concepts which cannot be reduced to their machine implementation.

Unfortunately by your account we would no longer be able to tell the difference between a simulation and reality. Just because a computer reproduces the functionality of a nuclear bomb, does that mean it is one? If a computer reproduces some of the functionaly of the mind what does that prove other than you have implimented your latest theory of mind in a machine.

And no I'm not a religious fanatic, just someone who recognises 'digital fundamentalism' for what it is, an article of faith masquarading as a scientific theory.

--Mr Bloggy

---January 13, 2005

Who said digital?

Your mind is a machine. Another machine can duplicate its function. If you aren't a religious fanatic, then explain what you think your mind is if NOT a machine.

Furthermore, what you think is reality already is a simulation - or more accurately, an interpretation. The important point is that it isn't reality at all - it's PART of reality, but you miss a lot (can't see X-rays, can you?) and you interpret the rest, as demonstrated by optical illusions and more.


---January 13, 2005

---January 16, 2005

Where is the evidence for your fundamentalist assertion that we are just machines then? Where is the evidence that the brain (neural network) behaviour is purely machine like, that there is no non-mechanistic factor in organising brain structure and behaviour.

There are plenty of physical systems that behave in unpredictable ways owing to their breaching the limits of linear deterministic parameters. The brain is a plastic material biological system and biological systems rely on non-equilibrium dynamics for their function. Non-equilibium systems have a habit of throwing up indeterminate, chaotic and emergent behavior so we can only predict 'machine like' behaviour when it lies within 'machine-like' parameters.

Sure a computer can be made to simulate anything that can be represented as an algorithm, but you can't assume that you can completely describe any physical system algorithmically and that certainly includes biological systems.

As far as the 'digital' point goes its because that's the way this fundamentalism has evolved. Its the view that claims because a computer can reproduce some behaviour x in a physical system then what goes on in the computer is the same as x.

Conveniently this usually refers to a brain about which we know relatively little, since if someone did start applying this doctrine to a 'hard science' such as modelling nuclear reactors then they would see just how daft it is. A bit like the 'god of the gaps' really. As long as we don't know how it works we can apply whatever half baked metaphysical idea takes our fancy as an article of faith

So your claim is pure pseudoscience. Within computer 'science' is often a real deficit of understanding as far as what making scientific statements means. Computer science is an extension of maths in terms of implementation of algorithms. Maths in itself is NOT empirical science but the language we apply to science.

The fallacy lies in the idea that all information systems can be treated as if they are independent of the material origin (aka virtual machines). So that when they are observed to be functionally equivalent the entities they are running in are assumed to be equivalent too.

So that underlies my point that with AI we are dealing mainly with simulations of theories of mind, not actual equivalents, and so the degree to which even reputable 'cognitive science' is empirically based is open to considerable dispute.

So my answer to what else the brain could be other than a 'machine' that will satisfy your evident contempt for anything remotely metaphysical, is that it is a biological system. Biological systems are not computers or machines because they can't be reduced to the behaviour of machines even when some of their function is machine like.

So if you want to create an intelligence equivalent to a human then it would have to be organic and evolve organically. But then you would have limited control over the parameters which determined its evolution and you could never reproduce it just by constructing and running a physical or virtual machine.

Obviously I'm not stupid enough to dispute that for a given level of human intelligence you can impliment some underlying algorithm on a computer and in all probability the computer would be as or even more efficient in running it. But that still leaves open the likelyhood that there are other types of behaviour that evolve in non-computatable ways which are central to our functioning and whose evolution could not be reproduced by a machine.

Mr Bloggy

---January 16, 2005

Well, as I said at the start, if you are religious, you aren't going to understand. Yes, I DO have contempt for the "metaphysical". That's nonsense. Your brain is "organic"? Yes, and what's that? Combinations of chemicals, which in turn are combinations of atoms, which are protons, electrons, etc. and perhaps down to strings if current theory is correct. But nothing "metaphysical", which is just a nonsense word. Your brain IS a machine, and all the silly hand-waving in the world doesn't change that.


---January 16, 2005
I've copied this to the Forum and suggest that any further comments be moved to there: https://groups.yahoo.com/group/aplawrenceforum/message/51


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