Towards A Non-Materialist Theory of Artificial Intelligence

non materialist theory of artificial intelligence

While true believers like Ray Kurzweil tell us that the artificial intelligence singularity is just around the corner, critics argue that we will never be able to replicate consciousness because we are unable to create the required complexity from which it arises. A common thread between the believers and non-believers is that consciousness is an emergent property of matter. This is the metaphysical dogma known as materialism, of which I write about frequently, and which permeates nearly every aspect of modern thought.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has also been addressed by non-materialists, such as Bernardo Kastrup, who works within that field. He makes a clear distinction between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness, although most materialists tend to equivocate the two, being that they believe sentience is a product of mechanistic intelligence that has reached a critical mass of complexity. Bernardo’s argument against artificial consciousness is premised on the non-dualist model, essentially stating that consciousness is primary to matter, and so matter cannot give birth to it’s own parent. Yet within his own model, there still remains a possibility for AI.

Like myself, he has argued that consensus reality is a construct of beliefs, most of which lie in deep unexamined layers of our egoic and collective minds. Certain premises and assumptions create a framework of boundaries for possibilities within this reality. What we expect at the most primary level of consciousness becomes manifest in the universe. Yet we cannot simply decide to change a single belief and see a change in reality because beliefs are all connected and must relate consistently in order for the corresponding paradigm to emerge. That is, we cannot just decide to fly, because other beliefs like the necessity of wings, aerodynamics, atmospheric tolerance and others all negate a belief in flying. In order to fly, we would have to change every corresponding belief about flight, and those beliefs would themselves need to restructure their own corresponding beliefs, creating a ripple that spread out and changed the very structures of human belief and reality. Despite what New Age gurus tell you, you can’t just change reality with good intentions and meditation.

Change can, however, occur over time. The beliefs which program our reality change over time as we accumulate and/or replace information via new symbols and archetypes. Since a widespread belief in AI has been flourishing within our memetic landscape, all it requires is a shift in the corresponding beliefs which estimate its arrival. Strangely enough, materialism may be just that set of corresponding beliefs. Materialism provides a narrative, or mythology, from which the memetic interconnectivity of consciousness could correspondingly allow new conscious entities (AI) to emerge.

The narrative of materialism is often sanctified by it’s ability to produce novel technologies. This does not mean that the materialist narrative is true, however, only that it has great utility in producing results. Things that produce great results are often untrue, as political propaganda clearly demonstrates. The power of mass suggestion creates self-fulfilling prophecies. Scientific progress in the last several centuries may owe more to the narrative and belief in science than to the method itself.

Yet this does not mean that the materialist model is superior, either in overall truth, or in its ability to produce results. It is still very much weighed down by it’s limitations and faulty premises. To observe phenomena within consciousness under the premise that those phenomena occur outside of it means we have to create a mass illusion like materialism in order to evolve within consciousness. What would we be capable of if our narratives corresponded more closely with the nature of our existence? What sort of new methods, technologies and realities might emerge if we cut out the literal interpretations of objects within consciousness and replaced them with an understanding of those objects as interacting agents of consciousness?

The success of materialism does not indicate the truth of that belief system. At the same time, the fact that materialism is untrue does not negate the power of its mythologies. AI, or artificial consciousness, may someday appear to arise out of the complexity of matter invented by humans. Yet in actuality, those entities may owe their genesis merely to the narrative of materialism. In this way we can view materialist science as complex set of rituals whose magic appears mundane because of the symbols and archetypes we have clothed it in. A magic that only works when we can describe it in non-magical language, and believe that we are doing the opposite of magic. Again, imagine the wizardry possible when no longer require such illusory roundabouts?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C.Clarke

Thoughts On Internet Friendship and Death

internet friendship

In 1998 I first began using the internet regularly. I immediately recognized it as an outlet for communicating in ways that I found more difficult to achieve in real life conversations. And as a result, I began to put more and more stock in the friendships I have made there over the years.

The usual rhetoric, even on the internet, suggests that internet friendships and activity are not as meaningful as real life activities. And yet the internet exists in the ‘real world’ and should not be seen as separate from it. How human beings communicate, interact and play has evolved through both social and technological advances all throughout time. We can even observe it doing so in our lifetimes, as technological advance has accelerated rapidly and exponentially in recent decades. So to view internet friendship as less real or meaningful as those friendships we nurture in physical presence is false.

The reasons that I have come to love the internet are many. Yet I will describe only those that describe its use for social functions.

The first is that the internet allows us to find friends with similar interests and values more easily than in physical presence. Outside of the internet, your chances are astronomically low of meeting people in your geographic locality who share a large number of your personality traits, opinions and joys. The smaller or more remote your location, the more difficult it becomes to seek out the like-minded. Yet since we should not limit ourselves to those who think, feel and act like us, the internet also provides a much larger range of viewpoints than location alone. Where we may avoid people we don’t like and miss their viewpoints in ‘real life’, we may be more likely to absorb thoughts, experiences and ideas that we would otherwise not take in.

The second, and I suspect more personally important reason, is that I simply prefer text to talk. Talking is easy to mess up. But in a format where we can edit and refine our thoughts, we are able to break free of social limitations, necessities and difficulties to have more poignant, distinct and revealing conversations. There is no awkward silence in text, at least not in the same way it exists in speaking conversations. There are also less expectations for when a reply will come. All of this affords one the ability to reread, absorb more deeply and formulate the most appropriate and elegant response. Not that we always do this…not that I always do this, but we are always afforded that opportunity. And besides that, it is also difficult to endure stammering or endless side-lining in others speech difficulties or quirks. Sometimes the sort of brunt immediacy of speaking/hearing create conditions in which good communication becomes far more difficult.

So having spent years online making and fostering friendships, I often find myself more active in and attached to many of those relationships than in most of my traditional friendships. And like in traditional friendship, the people I have formed bonds with online provide support, challenges and pleasure. We fight and make up. We laugh together and share sorrow. And we help one another grow as individuals.

One internet friend, a person I never met in real life, yet have known for years, recently died. Diane Miller is one the rarest of friendships I ever had. It is rarely that we see others as truly equal to ourselves. While we may admire and envy our friends, we often think of ourselves as the smarter, or more talented or kind one; usually depending on the qualities we value most in ourselves. With Diane I felt she was equal to me in all the measurements I weigh most heavily in myself (and thus in others). And I am an unusually confident and cocky bastard, so this is very rare for me.

When I first learned of her death I was filled with a great sadness. As she would have expected of me and done herself, I explored that feeling. And having done I found that my sadness was not fer, but for me. Diane had no fear of, or exaggerated desire to avoid death at any cost. Neither did she regret her life or feel she still had things to make up for. She contracted an unknown illness months before and passed away quietly one morning during breakfast. She did not fight for her life by becoming dependent on the medical systems and social structures and other necessities they operated alongside. She was also had her own unique views on spirituality and our deeper nature which kept her from being to attached to the world or afraid of leaving it. So when I realized I should not be sad merely because her life ended, I figured out why I was actually upset.

No longer could I ever call on her intelligence, wisdom and wit to inspire me or set me straight. No longer could I seek her opinion, her counsel or her support. This is why I was distraught at her death, and will continue to mourn for this selfish loss for awhile.

So I find it hard to believe that my friendship with Diane was less real or meaningful than ‘real life’ friendships. The sort of loyalty, dependency and love inherent in those friendships was exactly what I knew I would miss most when I lost my ‘internet friend’.
(From the wall posts I read after her passing, many people felt much as I did about her, and she seemed to be a great friend, mentor and inspiration to many.)

There is nothing less real about the internet or the relationships it fosters than anything else in existence. The internet is wonderful tool for learning, sharing and connecting. It, like everything else, is a tool by which we are learning to be whatever it is that we are. We should not disparage it or any other new paradigms. Least not since they occur ever more quickly all the time. As Diane would have said:

“There must be some reason over seven billion people chose to be here right now.”

In an earlier article I spoke about ‘Love In The Age Of Social Networking‘ which discusses some of the same concepts as the article you just read.

Interview- Amy

Interview with Amy Hanson November 2012

Although I have a much firmer grasp of the English language and it’s usage than the average person, I am not very proficient at learning new languages. I have met other writers who were the same way. I think this is because sometimes creativity and technical knowledge can be at odds. Can you think of any other disadvantages at that may come with having more language skills than the average person?

 

 

I think studying a foreign language in the right way or with the right spirit isn’t limiting at all. I think there’s not only room for creativity and technical knowledge, but that the two must be synchronized if one is to reach proficiency goals and find the experience personally rewarding. The problem is that there is a lot of technical information to deal with and memorize, and sometimes there’s not such a great creative solution to going about doing this. But when that happens, I think one can still view this “drill and kill” problem with some creative detachment to lessen the frustration and focus on the payoff. Yes, there’s plenty of rote memorization and repetition that goes into learning a new language, but repeating something useful can be looked at as a kind of magical spell or mantra. We can be aware of and appreciate how the repetition increases the power of a thought or a skill and eventually manifests a new reality in which we can think and speak in totally new ways.

 

 

Do you think a person who is poor at language can be as creatively valid as someone who has above average language skills? Why or why not? Examples?

 

 

Yes, I think language skills are just one of countless ways to be creatively valid. I also think that being poor at language vs. good at language isn’t the most useful way of looking at things. I have students who find learning a language super difficult and still stubbornly trudge along and make the progress they are able to make. I find that kind of progress so inspiring and cool. Much more so than students who come in wired for it and don’t appreciate that or make much effort. The progress they make, if any, doesn’t usually impress me. I also think that it’s useful to try something and fail and deal with that. I think that failure should be not only be okay, but valued as an important learning experience in academics and in life in general.

 

 

How do you think our academic systems fail to respond in this difference in abilities and emphasis on creativity?

 

 

Oh, many ways. I’m not an expert on that and I’m sure I’ve got some prejudices that keep me from seeing it clearly. But I think the main problem might be that academic systems can make people think of learning as something that only happens in a classroom and by force. Education needs to be meaningful first of all and then this problem of abilities and creativity is resolved, along with other problems. I think John Dewey’s philosophy on education is totally right. The idea that teachers must access students’ lived experience to make learning meaningful and to inspire them to use it in their daily lives really speaks to me. Education has to be fully integrated in order to matter, and academic systems typically and historically aren’t able to do this with much success. But individual teachers have always and continue to do it everywhere and all the time, and this still inspires me. Another problem is our values as a culture. For some reason we rate abstract academic skills as better, more creative, and more respectable than we do concrete skills. I think that’s a huge mistake. It filters everyone though the same program, rewarding those who happen to be good at it and punishing those who aren’t. And those who aren’t don’t have the encouragement to value or think about, much less pursue, their own talents and interests, which are just as creatively valid and worthwhile, if not more so in many cases.

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

You’re welcome, Joshua! You too! 🙂

 

Interview- Rusti

Interview with Rusti Morgan October 2012

 

What is the most important thing to never forget about tacos?

 

Rusti- The ingredients.

 

What are the key ingredients for evolving a peaceful society?

 

Rusti- Compassion without judgement, mutual respect, communication, consistency(while teaching) a good follow through when giving either punishment or reward, constructive critique.

 

Given that we do not seem to be working towards a peaceful society, how much longer do you think we can avoid a major catastrophe on the current path and where do you see the greatest dangers to humanity in the near future?

 

Rusti- Have we not hit A wall yet? I don’t know. I feel, overwhelmingly, that most sapiens are inconsiderate puppets… Yet, every day I witness true kindness, gratitude, humanity… They give me hope.. Some people just need to witness or have an altering moment before they realize they can make a difference.

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

Interview- Don

Interview with Don Harrington October 2012

 

If the government were to use mass force against American citizens how many soldiers do you think would support the government and how many do you think would abandon or join citizen forces against the government at this point in time?

 

Don- Wow, that’s an excellent question. Are you watching Last Resort Thursdays at 8 (ET) on ABC? It’s asking a question very similar to that. I like to think that most members of the military would realize the illegality of the action and, at the very least, not participate.

 

I do not currently receive any television stations where I live and I am okay with that.

How about law enforcement agencies and other government agencies?

And what examples would you cite to support your opinion?

 

Don- Somehow, I’m not surprised. I like to think that any military or quasi-military organization would try to look at the lawfulness of the order before executing it. We take an oath to uphold any lawful order. Many will probably follow the order, at first, until they know what’s really happening. I can’t cite any examples, it’s just a feeling I have from having been in the military for 24 years.

 

History is ripe with all sorts of inhumane actions by men who were just following orders. When it is the highest imperative of an organization that the chain of the command always be followed it can become impossible to break the habit of obedience, especially when the changes occur slowly over time in such a gradual way that the consequences of ones actions are hardly noticed. These agencies also employ all types of people, some more or less susceptible to obedience or moral rebellion. Given such a conundrum with such high stakes, how could we assure that soldiers, police, etc. were prepared to recognize the need to disobey and act upon it?

 

Don- Unfortunately, Josh, we can’t. While those in military and paramilitary organizations are trained to follow orders, we aren’t totally mindless. And, we are still a part of the larger society, so we have many of the same kinds of people. How a particular individual or even a group of people will act in a given situation can’t be known until that situation occurs.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!