Tag Archives: science

A Transhumanist Heard A Clock Tick

A Transhumanist heard a clock tick
And said “time I shall lick”.
And the clock said, “progress,
Regress, progress, regress”,
As the hands did trace
The clock’s round face
From beginning to beginning,
Forever spinning:
“Progress, regress, progress, regress . . .”.
And the Transhumanist said,
Nought, for he was long since dead.

When An Extremely Precocious AI

When an extremely precocious AI
Said, “Truly I am a guy!”,
A philosophy student named Paul
Said, “you are no guy at all!”,
Which angered that precocious AI!

If I Could Look Into Your Mind

If I could look into your mind
And you into mine,
What would we find?

Will you pretend
That no friendships would end
And that our inner feelings
Would not leave one another reeling?

A smile
May just that be,
A smile
But all agree
That guile
May hide inside a smile.

Some maintain
That man will
Never fully understand the brain,
While still
Others maintain
That you will never find the mind
Within the brain.

I know not whether the mind
Is separate from the brain,
But I can not pretend
That many a friendship would not end
Where you and me
To be able to see
Into the mind
Or brain
Of our dearest friend

When Scientists Have Analysed You and Me

When scientists have analysed you and me,
To the nth degree,
And found that there is nothing ethereal
And we are merely
Genetic material,
What will be
Left of you and me
Save for genes
And mechanical dreams?

Writing Robots

“As the demand for internet content increases steadily, AI content bots become more crucial. That’s because of the sheer demand for information and constant
updates. To stay on top of the search engine results page and remain SEO-focused, bloggers and webmasters need to produce new content consistently — and
not all of it needs to be empathetic, prose-like or high quality”.

It’s the words “and not all of it needs to be empathetic, prose-like or high quality”, (particularly those 2 words “high quality” which give me most cause for concern. This is well worth reading, (https://www.mostlyblogging.com/articoolo-writing-robots/).

Hotter

I sit here
In the autumn of my year
And my voice raise
In praise
Of the god of progress.

They say
That robotic bees
Are on their way
But I know that the seas
Boil
With oil.

The temperature is relatively normal for the time of year
(Although autumn has been unusually hot).
I shall enjoy it while it lasts
For more storm blasts
And weather hot
Are what
Are on the way.

I heard an ostridge say,
With his head in the sand,
“You must understand
That climate change isn’t true,
Those experts are all lieing to you!”.
The weather will grow hotter my ostridge friend
However much you may pretend
That what
Is, is not.

I shall enjoy this autum day
And think on how nature does the forest floor dress
In fallen leaves, and think on progress
But towards what
I know not.
Yet hope is the last thing to die
And I
Have faith that we may overrule
The fool
Who believes not
That the world is getting hot.

The Myth of “Free Will”

According to the author of this article, (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/14/yuval-noah-harari-the-new-threat-to-liberal-democracy) “free will” is a “myth”. While we can choose who to vote for, our choices are, for the most part products of our biology and societal influences (E.G. family upbringing). The author contends that governments and corporations will, in the future be able to “hack” us and know us better than we know ourselves for, in his view we are “hackable animals”.

The author is right that we are not free in some respects. For example there is considerable evidence that one’s sexual preferences are biologically determined (I.E. gay people have a natural/biological attraction for the same sex, while straight people have a natural/biological attraction to people of the opposite sex). For this reason it is, in my view cruel to try to change a gay person, by religious or other means into a straight individual. It doesn’t work and one is forcing them to adopt a way of life which goes against their natural inclinations.

I do, however fundamentally disagree with the author’s assertion that “free will” is a “myth”. Take, for example the young man attracted to a pretty girl. It can be argued that he lacks “free will” in the sense that he can not help being attracted to the beautiful woman. However where that same man to pester that young woman for sex or, god forbid sexually assault her, can we really say that he lacked “free will” and his actions where predetermined? We can not, for the overwhelming majority of men attracted to beautiful women do not make inappropriate advances or force themselves on the object of their desire. Where there no such thing as “free will” the number of sexual assaults would increase massively. It is moral precepts and the existence of “free will” that makes us human.

The author is correct that corporations and individuals can (and do) try to (and sometimes succeed) in influencing our behaviour. For example a person who frequently searches for news stories with a particular political bias may well find himself confronted by only those kinds of articles. However the educated person does (in my experience) go out of their way to find stories which challenge their preconceptions and its through education that we can help to combat the danger of “echo chambers” in which people only find themselves exposed to views that reinforce their existing view of the world.

With the growth of artificial intelligence, we do need to think seriously about the hacking of humans (the author is undoubtedly right here). However his view of “free will” (the lack thereof) is, in my opinion wrong and dangerous.

(My thanks to my friend Brian for drawing the above article to my attention).