Feeds

BBC abandons science

And falls into singularity-shaped hole

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Errors began to tumble out faster than we could record them (using our unaugmented v1.0 brains). The program couldn't decide what was meant by "mind" and what was meant by "brain" - so it used the terms interchangeably.

Humans have a concept of the mind that's about 4,000 years old (although about 3,900 years younger in the West) and it's generally understood to encompasses alot more than mere circuitry, such as experience and values. By making the dishonest, rhetorical leap from "mind equals brain", to "brain equals mechanical, determistic computer", lots of speculation followed. But the program makers needed to create this short-circuit, because they couldn't have made "Human 2.0" at all without it. Or at least it would have been very different.

Swayed by the easy seductions of the cult, the program makers made transferring consciousness look as simple as swiping a supermarket loyalty card - which merely demonstrated how little they valued the human mind, or, for that matter, the rational processes that permit us to create machanics.

Some errors were minor, but telling.

A black-and-white photograph of Intel's Gordon Moore - presumably intended to suggest he was dead, although Gordon is still very much alive - accompanied a claim that "computers were doubling in power every year". But Moore claimed nothing of the sort - he merely observed that the number of transistors on a given surface area was doubling every 18 months. The obvious reason why computers don't "double in power", except in theory, even every 18 months, wasn't mentioned.

Our software is getting worse rather faster than our computers are getting more powerful - which means the much-vaunted "singularity" is receding, rather than approaching. It's getting further away. With software getting dumber, the whole program seemed to support Jaron Lanier's observation about the Turing Test - "we make ourselves stupid in order to make the computer software seem smart."

The corollary had already been demonstrated. Our understanding of the "mind" is so universal and profoundly valued, you have to be fantastically clever (or an Anglo-American philosopher) to make it disappear.

No matter, the BBC told us, we'd be as good as there. We'd soon we'd able to, "download thoughts, store memories, [and] interface with machines."

Creepy child, courtesy of BBC's Horizon

Having made mind and brain interchangeable, the program makers could use other deceits. Maps of neural activity from a monkey playing a game showed, we were told, that computers could "read thoughts".

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.