Tag Archives: Science

A personal interest that is often lost in an obtuse mind.

NON-HUMANS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

Written by: Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence

LAWRENCE ANTHONY (AUTHOR, CONSERVATIIONIST, ENVIRONMENTALIST, EXPLORER, BORN 1950, DIED MARCH 2ND 2012)
GRAHAM SPENCE (CO-AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, EDITOR)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrated by: Simon Vance

Anthropomorphizing non-humans is a slippery slope.  The brain is an amazing organ that compels humans to understand things beyond understanding.  Whether it is belief in a Supreme Being or belief that wild animals think, human brains create stories of belief based on consciousness; i.e. something beyond instinct and conditioning.

LAWRENCE ANTHONY AND A BELOVED ELEPHANT (MR. ANTHONY DIED IN 2012 AT THE AGE OF 61 FROM A HEART ATTACK.)

Lawrence Anthony, a conservationist, notes his experience with a herd of wild elephants.  This herd of elephants will be killed if he is unwilling to accept them at his conservation area in South Africa.  The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.

ELEPHANT CONSERVATION BARRIERS (The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.)
ELEPHANT POACHING ( As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.)

Anthony tells a story of Africa that reflects on his perception of reality.  As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.  Anthony exposes some of these causes in “The Elephant Whisperer”.  However, Anthony takes a step too far by suggesting wild animals have cognitive recognition; i.e. a near-human understanding of what is happening in their world.

Though Anthony’s perception of animals is askew, his story brings Africa alive.  Anthony’s effort to preserve Africa’s wild life is exemplary.  His methods make sense.  He scrambles to create an electrical barrier around his conservation area that will contain the largest land based animal in the world.  The herd he is given custody of instinctually resists containment even though it offers a haven from human interference with nature.

PAVLOV’S DOG ( Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.)

Anthony overcomes that instinctual resistance by making himself and his employees familiar to the herd.  He insists on spending his personal and the staff’s time with the herd so they recognize his and their smell and presence.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.

TRIBALISM THAT THREATENS AFRICAN UNITY (An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community. )

An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community.  Anthony notes his area of South Africa has had no elephants for years.  Elephants have been systematically poached and driven out of South Africa by their instinct for survival.  Many of the natives in his area have never even seen an elephant.  The irony is that Anthony is challenged by African natives for his role in reintroducing elephants to South Africa.  The use of land for conservation interferes with tribal interests in raising cattle and goats.  Others question conservation’s interference in harvesting animals for food and ivory.

To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation that will enrich the natives without farming or harvesting elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses an interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.

Anthony’s pitch is based on human reasoning.  That reasoning contrasts with the instinctual way he approaches his adopted elephant herd.  As a human speaking to other humans, cognition is logically taken for granted.  Humans speaking to non-humans are deluding themselves by believing elephants or other species have equal or superior cognitive abilities.

SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM (To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation to enrich the natives without seeking to harvest elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses and interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with the logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.)

Evolution fools us all.  Maybe the future will change some member of the animal kingdom to create a “Planet of the Apes” but a “Planet of the Elephants” seems a step too far.

Nevertheless, “The Elephant Whisperer” is a fascinating glimpse of Africa.  We love our dogs, cats, and other pets.  Anthony, and many humans, believe animals think like humans.  Many think animals communicate among themselves.  However, today, it is evolutionary instinct and conditioning; not cognition, that rules the non-human community.

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CLARITY, ENLIGHTENMENT, EDUCATION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Your Best Brain Written by: John J. Medina

Published by: The Great Courses

JOHN J. MEDINA (AUTHOR, DEVELOPMENTAL MOLECULAR BIOLOGIST, PROFESSOR AT UNIV. OF WASH. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE)

At times, “The Great Courses” misses targets for clarity, enlightenment, and education.  However, Professor Medina hits every mark with understandable examples, utilitarian insight, and erudition. Though undoubtedly capable of mystifying layman with science jargon, Medina captures the complexity of what is presently known about consciousness and the mind with examples of well-known movies, television serials, commercials, and jokes.  His self-effacing delivery makes every lecture entertaining, enlightening, and educational.

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882, Explorer, Author of “The Origin of Species”, the seminal work on the evolution of humankind.)

Charles Darwin is Medina’s guide for explaining ascendance of the world’s greatest predator.  Brains make humans the dominant animal of life’s kingdom.  Medina notes how human brains evolve to outwit other predators in this biosphere.  A principal construct of that wit is homo sapiens’ ability to communicate among themselves.  With communication, humankind constructs a future out of the past and present. Humans evolve beyond instinct to not only survive but dominate the animal kingdom.

HUMAN COMMUNICATION (With communication, humankind constructs a future out of the past and present. Humans evolve beyond instinct to not only survive but dominate the animal kingdom.)
ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NEUROTRANSMITTERS

Though Medina answers many questions about the mind, he acknowledges mysteries that remain about consciousness.  There is no identifiable element that constitutes consciousness.  He explodes myths of right brain-left brain thinking, nature vs. nurture conception, intelligence testing and its validity, and the component nature of brains and their chemical and physical interconnections.  Medina goes on to explore deterioration and abatement of memory loss with age.

(Medina explains how unbelievably versatile the human brain is shown to be by the experience of people who have been severely injured.  Some recover many of the functions formally managed by parts of the brain that have been damaged.)

Medina explains how unbelievably versatile the human brain is shown to be by the experience of people who have been severely injured.  Some recover many of the functions formally managed by parts of the brain that have been damaged.  He notes that eyes do not see.  The brain is the functional source of sight.  He explains the miraculous feats of the brain that manipulate the scenes of life.  Medina explains the importance of sleep in maintaining and improving memory.

COMPONENT PARTS OF THOUGHT IN THE DECONSTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF EVENTS.(Medina suggests every human event is taken apart and reassembled by the brain.)

One of many striking points made by Medina is the brain’s deconstruction of all visual events.  The brain reconstructs events to conform to an individual’s understanding of what happens.  Medina suggests every human event is taken apart and reassembled by the brain.  Our brains are not movie projectors.

(There is a risk to truth and justice.  It suggests a judicial recklessness in relying on eye witnesses to crime.  Further, it reinforces one’s opinion about the objectivity and malleability of history.)

What brain sight and memory imply is a risk to truth and justice. It suggests a judicial recklessness in relying on eye witnesses to crime. Further, it reinforces one’s opinion about the objectivity and malleability of history. It explains how remembrance of things past are affected by tellers of tales; let alone, present day interpretations of past events.

There are many interesting vignettes about the development and validity of IQ tests, savant memories, and the mechanical and chemical functions of the brain.  Medina ends with encouragement to exercise, socialize, and live in the present to maintain healthy brain function.  There is much to learn from Medina’s erudite lectures.

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PHILOSOPHY IS DEAD

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

Written by: Sarah Bakewell

Narrated by: Antonia Beamish

SARAH BAKEWELL (AUTHOR)

Philosophy is dead.  In “At the Existentialist Café” Sarah Bakewell expertly writes about the history of phenomenological and existentialist philosophy.  She writes about the lives of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, and other 19th and 20th century philosophers.

EDMUND HUSSERL (1859-1938 Hursserl extends Rene Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” to “I think; therefore, it is.”)

Husserl’s life begins Bakewell’s story in the 19th century.  It is Husserl who focuses on the study of consciousness in human beings.  To Husserl the nature of objects is determined by the experience of things in human consciousness.  Husserl extends Rene Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” to “I think; therefore, it is.”

MARTIN HEIGEGGER (1889-1976 Heidegger becomes a Nazi in 1933-becoming a witting ally to Nazi atrocity.)

Through a succession of followers, Husserl’s concept of reality evolves.  Consciousness evolves to reveal truth in some ways and despicable lies in others.  Ms. de Beauvoir reveals truths about being a woman in the world while Heidegger condones, if not endorses, Nazi atrocity.  Albert Camus recognizes the meaninglessness and indifference of the universe while Jean-Paul Sartre believes in an evolution of human nature that makes communism inevitable.

To a non-philosopher, Bakewell’s book holds one’s attention because of the details revealed about philosopher’s lives during and after WWII.  Edmund Husserl presumes Heidegger will become his disciple but finds that the rise of Hitler means one thing to Heidegger and another to Husserl.  Hitler’s rise existentially threatens the phenomenological beliefs of Husserl and the life of his Jewish wife.  Heidegger chooses to become Rektor of the University of Freiburg and joins the Nazi Party in 1933.  With little help from his “friend” Heidegger, Husserl accepts a sinecure to Prague in 1934 and dies in 1938.

SIMONE de BEAUVOIR (1908-1986, Author and Philosopher with life long commitment to Jean-Paul Sartre.)
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (1905-1980, Existentialist belief that collectivism is the primary hope for humanity’s future.)

Simone de Beauvoir, a beautiful woman, becomes a lifelong companion of an unattractive philosopher named Jean-Paul Sartre.  Their conjugal relationship eventually dissolves but a deeply held friendship and correspondence lasts for the remainder of their lives.  Both fervently believe in the inevitability of communism until near the end of their lives.  Though early friends of Camus, they depart from friendship as Camus declines to believe in communist collectivism.

MERLEAU-PONTY (1908-1961)
ALBERT CAMUS (1913-1960, FRENCH NOBEL PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, AND PHILOSOPHER)

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, like Camus in the beginning, becomes close friends with Sartre and de Beauvoir but their friendship cools as Ponty gravitates toward belief in art while denigrating belief in science. Ponty views science as an attempt to explain things objectively when all who practice science think subjectively.  To Ponty, science is, at best, an abstraction.

There is enough information about philosophy and the lives of these philosophers to make a listener question philosophy’s value.  Philosophy, like Nietzsche’s God, seems dead.  This is not Bakewell’s conclusion but “At the Existentialist Café” suggests philosophers are as capable of predicting life’s meaning as political pundits and stockbrokers are at predicting elections and stock values.  The truth of life’s meaning appears to be more a matter of luck than philosophical insight.  Never-the-less, “At the Existentialist Café” is a highly interesting history of some very influential philosophers.

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DIETING AND THE BRAIN

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Written by: John J. Ratey, MD

Narrated by: Walter Dixon

JOHN RATEY (AUTHOR, MD)

Crash dieting and the brain compete for control of one’s established weight.  Per Doctor John Ratey, your first crash diet will undoubtedly help lose weight.  However, when weight is regained, the same diet will not be equally successful.

ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NUEROTRANSMITTERS

The brain automatically triggers weight conservation with a second crash diet because it signals body starvation.  The third, fourth; etc. crash diet will increasingly be unsuccessful.  Ratey’s point is that weight loss success requires cooperation from the brain.  Ratey suggests the key to that cooperation is exercise.

Ratey is not expecting everyone to become an athlete but that some exercise regimen, whether walking, biking, or climbing stairs will offer numerous benefits for weight maintenance, mental function, and psychological health.  Ratey does not discount the importance of a healthy diet but food binges, foggy thinking, and states of depression or anxiety can be scientifically ameliorated by exercise.  Ratey goes so far as to suggest exercise is medicine for health.

————————-WALKING, BIKING, CLIMBING STAIRS———————————————-
21ST CENTURY MODELS
LOUISE O’MURPHY – KING LOUIS’ MISTRESS 1751

An inference from Ratey’s research is that obsession with body image interferes with human health.  As history shows, the svelte image of modern models is a reversal of what was considered beauty in earlier centuries.  The substance of health is a combination of proper diet and exercise.  In most cases, Ratey implies body weight and health will stabilize with healthy eating and moderate exercise.  Ratey acknowledges genetics and medical maladies may interfere with that conclusion, but not change its efficacy when coordinated with medical consultation.

Part of one’s frustration with Ratey’s conclusion is dependence on what is called a proper diet.  It seems with each new study; some approved foods slip to the bottom of the “good food” pyramid, while some formerly “bad foods” move up the pyramid; i.e. chocolate for example.

PREGNANCY AND EXERCISE IN MODERN TIMES

The overriding value of Ratey’s book is the conclusion that exercise is a key to mood, memory, and learning.  Numerous control experiments support Ratey’s argument.  Exercise seems more for the brain than the body.  Every day should be an exercise day.  Ratey notes that pregnant women that exercise have been found to have healthier babies than those who, in earlier days, were counseled to rest and relax.

Exercise does not have to be a fixed regimen but walking rather than driving to the store, when close to home, is a beginning.  Replacing TV time with household chores is part of an exercise regimen. Keep moving.  Ratey suggests “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”

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PRECISE KNOWLEDGE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Black Swan

Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Narrated by: David Chandler

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB (AUTHOR)

Nassim Taleb blows the whistle on precise knowledge.  Taleb suggests precise knowledge is a fiction whether recorded as history or projected as future.  Taleb argues history is distorted by the historian and the future is unknowable.  Taleb is disdainful of experts, beginning with oxymoronic titles like “social scientist”
and ending with Nobel Prize winning economists.  Taleb is a skeptic in the sense of a Montaigne, but with one monumental difference.  Taleb is flaunting while Montaigne is self-effacing.

STOCK MARKET CRASH 1987

Several years ago, an associate of mine said he worked to become rich.  In his mind, being rich meant no one could tell him what to do.  Taleb reminds me of that person.  “The Black Swan” is the title of Teleb’s book.  The title is a metaphor for events that are unforeseen and unknowable; e.g. events that are so consequential they change the future.  In Taleb’s view the stock market crash in 1987 (black Friday) is such an event.

SERENDIPITY OF LIFE
KARL POPPER (1902-1994 PHILOSOPHER THAT BELIEVED EMPIRICAL SCIENCE COULD NEVER BE PROVEN; ONLY FALSIFIED)
BENOIT MANDELBROT (1924-2010, POLISH BORN MATHEMATICIAN, A MASTER OF THE THEORY OF FRACTALS)

 

Taleb’s thoughts slap expert’s faces.

 

 

 

His theory of unpredictability makes fools of economists, political pundits, news purveyors, stock brokers, social scientists, and many (if not most) philosophers and mathematicians.  (Two exceptions are Karl Popper and Benoit Mandelbrot. ) The credibility of Taleb’s argument is reinforced by the serendipity of life and expert’s underestimation of new discoveries’ consequence.

RESULTS OF LINEAR THINKING VS. ACTUAL EVENTS

One of Taleb’s insightful observations is that human consciousness of life is linear while nature creates life serendipitously.  The human mind demands story continuity while nature simply follows the physics of life.  Nature is an opportunist while humans tend to believe there is a reason for every consequence.  Taleb makes that opinion concrete with examples like the 1987 stock market crash.

QUANTS (Experts of quantification, hired by investment bankers to create instruments of financial destruction.)

No one perceived the potential of a market collapse because of faulty computer algorithms that influenced stock market trading.  No one, including Taleb, forecast computer trading fallibility.  However, Taleb’s theory of “The Black Swan” compelled him to create a fail-safe for an unexpected market collapse.  He hedged his portfolio to become a rich man.

Taleb suggests, at best, we live in a world of probability without any definitive assurance of cause and effect.  That suggested truth discounts every news report, and every prognostication made by human beings.  Taleb says he does not listen to the news because facts are distorted by the consciousness of human beings.  Luck and fate are a reflection of Taleb’s cynical view of experts.  It reminds one of today’s American President.

Taleb implies that reverse engineering the brain to enhance A.I. is a blind alley.  On the bright side, the inference is that computers will never replace human abilities.  The dark side is that computer potential will always be limited by human abilities.

BUTTERFLY EFFECT (THEORY OF FLAPPING WINGS CAUSING HURRICANE)

Much of what Taleb argues is reinforced by the science of experimentation.  Physics suggests we live in a probabilistic world.  No outcome is perfectly determinable.  Life has grown into complexity from simple beginnings replicated with minuscule changes that occur over time.  The human brain thinks of life in geometric forms (straight lines, triangles, squares, etc.) while life is as jagged as a mountain.  Life is interconnected with a butterfly’s flapping wings and “spooky action at a distance”.  It grew from simple cells to chains of DNA.  In life’s complexity, there is no certainty; there is only probability.

Despite Taleb’s belief in life’s improbabilities, he considers himself an optimist.  His point seems to be that there is no such thing as precise knowledge but with knowledge of the existence of “…Black Swans”, human beings can expect the unexpected.  In that expectation, it is possible to live life joyfully, if not perfectly.  One wonders if President Trump is a black swan or something more sinister.

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The A.I. Frontier

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

Written by: The Great Courses

Narrated by: Professor Patrick Grim

PATRICK GRIM (PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY)

Patrick Grim cogently describes the frontier of artificial intelligence in “Philosophy of Mind”. The concluding lectures argue that the closest we have come to defining consciousness is the “Hot (acronym for higher-order-theory) Theory” proposed by David Rosenthal. Though Grim has reservations about Rosenthal’s concept, he suggests it is the nearest functional definition with an inferential suggestion that computers can pass a Turing test.

DAVID M. ROSENTHAL (PROFESSOR AT THE GRADUATE CENTER CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK)
ALAN TURING (1912-1954, PIONEERING ENGLISH COMPUTER SCIENTIST)

To back up a bit—Grim goes through the history of mind-body theories from Aristotle through modern times.  Grim tries to answer the question–What is consciousness?

History shows philosophical theories of mind revolve around duality, materiality, thought, and in more modern times, functionality.  Some theorist postulate consciousness is made up of the relationship between mind and body.

Some others believe in a yet-to-be-identified physiological building block that provides consciousness, and others theorize nothing material exists except in the mind of the perceiver.  Still others suggest consciousness is the cognitive relationship between the material world and the mind.  Grim suggests Rosenthal’s idea of consciousness as functionality comes closer to the mark.

WATSON COMPUTER DEFEATS BEST JEOPARDY PLAYERS 2011

The import of all these theories becomes eminently important when Alan Turing suggested–It seems probable that once machine thinking started, it will not take long to outstrip our feeble power— They will be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. Turing suggests, “At some stage, we should expect machines to take control.” To many, this is a threat to humanity; to others it is the hope of humanity.

To Turing, the turning point will be when human beings are unable to distinguish between human to human conversation and machine to human conversation; i.e. that is the Turing Test.  To date, the test has not been passed.  Grim implies Turing is not concerned about whether computers will ever become conscious or not.  To Turing consciousness is beside the point of a machine being able to surpass human capabilities.  The fact that computers show the capability of exceeding human abilities in some areas proves Turing’s point; without being able to pass the Turing test.

Grim does not believe computers will ever have consciousness that achieves awareness by the mind (a CPU in the case of machines), of itself, and the world.

  He does not think machines will ever be able to comprehend their being-ness.  Grim suggests only a living thing will have a sense of being itself based on its form, learned experience, and function.  Grim somewhat hedges that belief with Rosenthal’s concept of consciousness as self-awareness which incorporates both material being and mental function.  To Grim, there is no building block or Lego piece that will be discovered for consciousness.  Without that type of elemental discovery, Grim is skeptical about human being’s ability to create conscious machines.

To some, Grim’s argument is superfluous.  Considering Turing’s 1940’s observation, consciousness is an unnecessary computer accoutrement.  To someone like Ray Kurzweil, technology is on the verge of discovering the building blocks of consciousness; in fact, Kurzweil suggests some computers already have some level of consciousness.

Whatever the answer is about computer consciousness, little question remains about the impact computers have had, and are having in the world.  Quantum computing adds another dimension for potential computer consciousness.

Professor Grim’s lectures are excellent.  He provides a clear explanation of the history of “…Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines.”

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HUMAN OPTIMISM

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

Written by: Ray Kurzweil

Narrated by: Christopher Lane

RAY KURZWEIL (AUTHOR,SCIENTIST,INVENTOR, DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING AT GOOGLE)

The technological wizardry of Ray Kurzweil’s thoughts breed human optimism.  At times, “How to Create a Mind” seems like self-aggrandizement for Kurzweil’s beliefs.  Kurzweil believes artificial intelligence will expand the future of humankind.

TED BELL (AMERICAN AUTHOR)

On the one hand, listeners hope he is right; on the other, (paraphrasing Ted Bell) when artificial intelligence is applied to cyber warfare, it is a threat to everybody.

One is reminded of Kahneman and Tversky’s book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, that implies human beings act more emotionally than logically.  If logic became a bigger part of human decision-making through A.I.’ enhancement, would humanity be better off?  Kurzweil implies the answer is yes.

Kurzweil argues that humanity is on the verge of an A.I.’ singularity.  Humanity’s existence will change with the physiological introduction of artificial intelligence into human beings.  Kurzweil argues the process has already begun with prosthesis being connected to the human nervous system, i.e. artificial human limbs that move at the order of thought.

RETIRED ARMY RANGER GETS FIRST PROSTHETIC LEG WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 2006

He notes the expanded understanding of brain function offers knowledge of how human’s think at a physiological level.  The building blocks of human thought are being identified.  Kurzweil describes the building blocks of the mind as Lego pieces that can be assembled to create human thought.  With identification of the building blocks, a giant step toward reverse engineering the brain will be tantalizingly close.

DEEP BLUE (BEAT GARRY KASPAROV IN SIX GAME MATCH 1996)

Without question, computers think faster than human beings.  Kurzweil notes the creation of Deep Blue and its defeat of the best players of chess, and Watson’s defeat of the best players of Jeopardy as evidence of the superiority of AI to human intelligence. He questions those who argue Deep Blue and Watson are just programmed computers by humans.  Kurzweil argues that Deep Blue and Watson border the edge of consciousness by being self-taught with minimal programming from human beings.  He recounts the advances in medical treatment from computers designed to absorb all of the relevant literature on human disease to suggest effective treatment for ill patients.

————WATSON COMPUTER DEFEATS BEST JEOPARDY PLAYERS 2011————
GORDON MOORE (AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN, AUTHOR OF MOORE’S LAW

A part of Kurzweil’s cogency is reinforced by the geometric growth of technology from the diminishing Moore’s law (the belief that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubles every year) to the age of quantum computing.  He argues that Moore’s law may become obsolete but new fields of computing miniaturization are opening as the law begins to fail.  With the advent of quantum computing, transistors for binary calculations based on transistors may become obsolete.  Kurzweil’s point is that linear thinking misleads those who think technology is either slowing down or failing to open new doors for humanity’s advance.

To Kurzweil, humanity’s future is rosy; not in the sense of their being a surcease of human pain and suffering, but in the sense of technological advance.  He suggests technology will continue to expand at a geometric rate to improve human health, reduce societal degradation, and assure human survival. Kurzweil sees a singularity that melds artificial intelligence with human DNA.  The combination, in Kurzweil’s opinion, provides a vehicle for humanity’s survival, exploration, and expansion.

So, “Don’t worry, be happy” as Bobby McFerrin said.  Or as Leo Tolstoy said, “If you want to be happy, be.”  As noted, Kurzweil’s thoughts breed human optimism.

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