22 February 2011

The question of life can no longer be avoided because of Watson

In the 50s Alan Turing in Computing Machinery and Intelligence proposed what is known as the Turing Test, which measures whether a machine is truly intelligent. Basically a human asks questions of A and B and has to determine which one is a machine and which one is a human. No machine has successfully beaten the test.

Until IBM's Watson went on Jeopardy!.

Sure the voice could use some tweaks, but the Turing Test is purely a text-based test. That test Watson would win every single time.

Why is this significant? Because now we can no longer dance around the subject of when does a machine become a living thing. No more weird "qualia" talk. No more "does a soul exist?" Simply put, at what point of advancement do we consider machines to be living beings?

Yes, humans built and programmed Watson. While Watson obviously has the equivalent IQ of 150+ Watson is dependent upon humans. Watson is not alive. Not yet at least.

How do we define "living being?" Is it different from a virus? Before answering consider that viruses are capable of reproduction, have intelligence (whether measurable or not), have adaptive abilities and evolutionary processes, and quite possibly socialization.

Watson, in the correct environment could reproduce. Watson is capable of adapting. And possibly of evolution and socialization.

Is language a criterion? How do we then define language? Bees communicate but in no manner we truly understand. Watson communicates not only in English (and understands inferential references which are the most difficult to understand) but with various Machine languages.

Watson's one major limitation is its reliance on electricity. And that is the last defining line between non-living and living: self-sufficiency. Once Watson, or some other machine, is capable of self-sufficiency then machines will be Machines - an entirely new species.

15 February 2011

The Concept of Time Travel

Before discussing multi-linear time, one must establish what the concept of time is. Time, for this argument, is a tool that measures the cycles of day and night. It can be divided into decreasing discrete measurements (hours, minutes, seconds). A collection of discrete measurements can represent a block (day) or several blocks (week, month, year). This is an universal truth, but not a law. Our concept of time is not necessarily the same for another species, but time occurs. To borrow from the incompleteness theorem of Gödel, truth is not a function of logic.

Our concept of time is that seconds lead to minutes to hours to days to weeks to years. This is linear time or simply A to B. Hawking when writing on the concept of worm holes noted that the truth that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, especially when two points are folded over. Take a piece of paper and make two points on it. Fold the paper so the points are over each other, and that is what Hawking meant. 

In our concept of time, the War of 1812 started on Friday, June 18th, 1812. It is a definite dot on the timeline. Common theories on time travel would say we could build a device and go back in time to June 18th, 1812. The issue is going forward in time.

To be able to go forwards in time, say to March 1st, 3500, all time must have happened. Clarifying to travel forwards in time, all time, from the beginning of the universe to the end of it, must have already occurred. Traveling forward in time would have a dead-end. And again this is linear time as we know it.

The concept of multi-linear time is that all time that has/will ever occur happens along the straight line of our seven day week. Every single Friday in all of history happens on Friday; first Friday and final Friday occurs all at once. One p.m Friday now is one p.m. Friday throughout all of history. Basically time is L-shaped with the days of the week moving left to right and years and its more discrete parts from bottom to top. Why would this be superior to our standard concept of time? The points on the line are still the same.

Then we come back around to Hawking's concept of a worm hole. Nimtz and Stahlhofen claim to have succeeded with quantum tunneling which is theoretically similar to Hawking. In linear time, folding time from say Monday, February 28th, 2011 to Friday, June 18th, 1812 would not be possible because it is not a folding of time, but a fold and twist. In multi-linear time, you could fold Friday, whatever year, over to Friday, June 18th, 1812.

Following Baye's Theorem [P(H/E)=P(E/H)xP(H)/P(E), where H=hypothesis and E=evidence supporting H] the probability of time travel in the current concept of linear time is decidedly less probable than in a multi-linear concept. Not a perfect hypothesis, but closer to an universal truth than what is commonly accepted.

09 February 2011

Intelligence and rain

Consider this implication that the human brain is composed mainly of water and that thoughts are electrical transmissions. These are scientific facts. Also fact that the brain requires oxygen to remain functional. Heck let's toss in that it is a complex structure. And we will take the final step and say that we are explicitly discussing a fruit fly brain.

Now, remove religion. I am not saying that a deity of sorts does not exist or anything like that. This is just a simple extension of Sartre's statement in Being and Nothingness that he did not deny god existed but he questioned should god not exist man would create himself. Arguing Sartre's theory is an entirely different post. And while I am removing religion, remove qualia, that mythical "essence" that Searle and others desperately cling to in their argument against computers and artificial intelligence.

Referencing the opening paragraph, I have to wonder if rain could have sentience? Let me define sentience as having the quality of being able to compose and transmit thoughts independently of outside manipulations. Rain is composed mostly of water, conducts electrical transmissions, has access to unlimited amounts of oxygen and is a complex structure. To say that rain is not a complex structure, snow is a type of frozen rain.

Is it possible to prove that rain is not capable of sentience? Not that rain is sentient, but that it is impossible for rain to be sentient. Having disqualified religion and qualia, how can the argument against be made? Is this a perversion of Pascal's wager?