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Discussion > Life on other planets

Martin

I can not dispute the possibility or even certainty that at some point humans will be able to (lets say) replicate their intelligence in a machine. However it will not be a human it will be a robot ^.^

Oct 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Registered CommenterDung

However it will not be a human it will be a robot ^.^

Dung - that means that whether a being is human or robot depends on the hardware platform, rather than its "real drives --- ; love, hate, envy, charity, hope and despair among many others".

If after 100...0 years in robotic form, these beings transferred their cerebral state machines back into biological form, indistinguishable by any test from today's human beings, would they once again be humans? If so, could they really be said not to have been human during the robotic epoch?

Oct 9, 2012 at 9:19 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin

I am the one accused of reading too many comics but you are writing the science fiction :)
This thread is about real problems facing humanity and possible solutions. I have limited myself to existing or credible near future developments.
Your posts seem to be aimed at messing me about or am I not reading this aright?

Oct 9, 2012 at 11:35 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The haystack problem would surely be overcome by the monkeys, typewriters, Shakespeare thing would it not? As you are not a Big Banger then limits to time do not apply and feasible anti-matter drives only reinforce my conjecture. :-)

Oct 10, 2012 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Dung...

Your posts seem to be aimed at messing me about or am I not reading this aright?
I tried to post comments that were obviously outside the range of possibilities that you had in mind but I did not intend that to be interpreted as 'messing you about' in any way at all.

This thread is about real problems facing humanity and possible solutions.
I don't really agree that the precise date that the human race finally ceases to exist is a problem that we need to be too bothered about. If it's due in the next 100 years or so, it's worth figuring out what can be done.

But why should the man on the Clapham omnibus care whether the human race dies out in 10,000 years from now, or manages to get installed elsewhere in the universe in order to die out at a later date?

I have limited myself to existing or credible near future developments.
I don't think that getting the human race installed on the planet of a distant star is even remotely near the category of "existing or credible near future developments". I am guessing that some other commenters share that opinion.

My guess (just a guess, nothing more) is that emulating human cerebral activity, in full, in electronic hardware (producing consciousness, emotions, thought, postings on BH blog, etc etc) is probably a lesser technical challenge than inter stellar travel.

And it would provide a means of ensuring the continued existence of the human/human-in-robotic-form race if the solar system became uninhabitable for biological life forms.

Oct 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

ssat

However many monkeys you equip with typewriters; no single monkey is going to reproduce a Shakespeare play.
An incredibly large number of monkeys over a ridiculously long period may together type all the words contained in a play but they would not be able to put them together in the correct order :)
I stand by my haystack hehe.

Oct 10, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Martin

I enjoy this freestyle kind of discussion :)

Can we separate a number of facets within the discussion?

Firstly the details of the anti-matter engines came from NASA, not my fave comic.

The announcement of the discovery of the stable anti-matter belt is here: http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/737/2/L29/

Now please explain to me why

I don't think that getting the human race installed on the planet of a distant star is even remotely near the category of "existing or credible near future developments".

Secondly

But why should the man on the Clapham omnibus care whether the human race dies out in 10,000 years from now, or manages to get installed elsewhere in the universe in order to die out at a later date?

The poor man on the Clapham Omnibus may well never consider the situations you describe but his instinctive reactions to threats he perceives will take him to the same place of safety.
If the Earth was threatened tomorrow with total destruction and a limited number of seats made available on a ship to another planet then people would kill each other to get a seat.

Many sci-fi books and films have dealt with the situation in which man creates an artificial intelligence that is his equal or his superior, then speculated on the possible results.
Discussing this is genuine science fiction because such machines do not exist but I agree that it is certain that a machine will be built with equal or better reasoning capabilities than humans. However in order to be able to describe this machine as in some way human then certain things need to be fully understood, which in my opinion may not be capable of being understood.
The mechanism for every human instinct and emotion would need to be understood and replicated and we are a long long way from that.

Oct 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung - I'll discuss the difficulties of interstellar travel when I've got rid of the aches and pains of the little virus that has made its home in my system. Meanwhile I'll dose on Benylin and Bourbon. But, essentially, you are trading off the need for impossibly large amounts of energy vs. impossibly long journey times vs. impossibly unrealistic requirements on the biology and behaviour of the human crew vs. impossibly low failure rates of the machinery and its automatic repair systems.

Meanwhile....

I agree that it is certain that a machine will be built with equal or better reasoning capabilities than humans. However in order to be able to describe this machine as in some way human then certain things need to be fully understood, which in my opinion may not be capable of being understood.
The mechanism for every human instinct and emotion would need to be understood and replicated and we are a long long way from that.

I have not explained myself well.

I'm not talking about programming artificial intelligence equal to human capabilities. It took evolution many gigayears to produce the basic platform and then more millions of years to get to human intelligence level. Other than "Artificial intelligence by simulated evolution" (as someone wrote in the 1960's), I don't have any strong belief we would ever achieve that.

I'm talking about taking an existing design - the human nervous system including the brain and all the pre-programmed stuff that gets into it via the DNA of its owner. We just ("just") need to copy it in electronic form, without actually understanding how it works, then set it running with all the right inputs. So that neurone by neurone, it does exactly what a human brain implemented in nerve tissue does.

Take an analogy - some complicated program running on, let's say, a VAX-11/780. You can get the same program (whcih is only available in VAX object code - the source code was lost decades ago) running on a PC if you have programmed an emulator for a VAX. You don't need to have an inkling how the program itself does its stuff - you just need to understand the VAX's instruction set and architecture.

Oct 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Benylin and Bourbon? I would love to be on that planet with you, quite obviously you will already have achieved interstellar travel hehe.

I'm talking about taking an existing design - the human nervous system including the brain and all the pre-programmed stuff that gets into it via the DNA of its owner. We just ("just") need to copy it in electronic form, without actually understanding how it works, then set it running with all the right inputs. So that neurone by neurone, it does exactly what a human brain implemented in nerve tissue does.

I can not say that this is impossible but I can say that currently nobody has a clue how this could be done.
Get well soon mate :)

Oct 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM | Registered CommenterDung