e-book: Are We Spiritual Machines?

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Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I.

June 8, 2001

Are We Spiritual Machines

Author:
Jay W. Richards, Ray Kurzweil, George Gilder
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Computers are becoming more powerful at an ever-increasing rate, but will they ever become conscious? Artificial intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil thinks so and explains how we will “download” our software (our minds) and “upgrade” our hardware (our bodies) to become immortal — before the dawn of the 22nd century.

In this debate with his critics, including several Discovery Institute fellows, Kurzweil defends his views and sets the stage… read more

Are We Spiritual Machines? — book announcement

June 8, 2001

Computers are becoming more powerful at an accelerating rate, but will they ever become conscious?

In the forthcoming book Are We Spiritual Machines? — a debate with leading critics of “strong artificial intelligence” — Ray Kurzweil says that nonbiological intelligence will become indistinguishable from conscious entities such as humans — at least from the observer’s perspective.

He explains how we will “reverse engineer” our software (our minds) and… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | The Beginning of a Debate

June 7, 2001
are we spirital machines
Author:
George Gilder, Jay W. Richards
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Two philosophers, a biologist, and an evolutionary theorist critique Ray Kurzweil’s prediction that computers will attain a level of intelligence beyond human capabilities, and at least apparent consciousness. Kurzweil responds to these critics of “strong AI.”… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 1: The Evolution of Mind in the Twenty-First Century

June 7, 2001
Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be approximately 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. This exponential growth is not restricted to hardware, but with accelerating gains in brain reverse engineering, also applies to software. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, allowing nonbiological intelligence to combine the subtleties of human intelligence with the speed and knowledge sharing ability of machines. The results will include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, downloading the brain and immortal software-based humans — the next step in evolution.… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 2: I Married a Computer

June 7, 2001
Author:
John Searle
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

John Searle challenges Ray Kurzweil’s predictions, such as downloading our minds onto hardware, nanotech-enhanced new bodies, evolution without DNA, virtual sex, personal immortality, and conscious computers. He uses his famous “Chinese Room” argument to show how machines cannot really understand human language or be conscious. Searle’s conclusion is that Kurzweil’s ideas on “strong AI” are based on “conceptual confusions.”… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 3: Organism and Machine — The Flawed Analogy

June 7, 2001
Author:
Michael Denton
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Michael Denton asserts that the most basic vital characteristics of organisms, such as self-replication, morphing, self-regeneration, self-assembly and the holistic nature of biological design, cannot be achieved with machines. If this is the case, then how will consciousness ever be instantiated in a “spiritual machine”?, asks Denton.… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 4: Kurzweil’s Impoverished Spirituality

June 7, 2001
Author:
William A. Dembski
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Ray Kurzweil’s notion of “spiritual machines” capable of consciousness reduces the richness of the real world and spirituality to computational absurdity, says Prof. William Dembski.… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 5: Kurzweil’s Turing Fallacy

June 7, 2001
Author:
Thomas Ray
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Reverse-engineering the human brain is doomed to failure because of the “Turing fallacy” — a nonbiological computation system could never precisely copy the complex neural, structural, and chemical functions of a brain or achieve the required level of reliability, says Thomas Ray, who proposes evolution of “non-Turing” AIs as an alternative… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 6: Locked in His Chinese Room: Response to John Searle

June 7, 2001
Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

In this detailed response to John Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument, Ray Kurzweil argues that Searle’s reasoning is based on the naïve, unrealistic premise that nonbiological entities can only manipulate logical syntax, whereas the current trend is toward emergent self-organizing chaotic systems based on pattern recognition, biologically inspired massively parallel methods, and reverse-engineering the brain. According to Kurzweil, Searle’s belief that consciousness requires a neurobiological substrate is equally unsupported. “We will meet [nonbiological] entities in several decades that at least convincingly claim to be conscious,” he concludes.… read more

ARE WE SPIRITUAL MACHINES? | Chapter 7: Applying Organic Design Principles to Machines is Not an Analogy But a Sound Strategy: Response to Michael Denton

June 7, 2001
Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Discovery Institute (2001)

Countering Michael Denton’s vitalist objection that self-organizing, self-replicating, morphing, holistic forms can only be created by biological processes and that machines are necessarily deterministic and predictable, Ray Kurzweil points out that software-based, self-organizing, chaotic processes (such as genetic algorithms) can exhibit unpredictable, emergent properties and create complex original designs. Furthermore, the complexity of this “evolutionary engineering” is increasing exponentially and will match the complexity of human intelligence in a few decades, he adds.… read more

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