What does is it mean to be human

 
saeed
 
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saeed
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23 May 2018 10:41
 

As we approach the ‘singularity,’ I have been thinking about what it means to be human.  If we move to a Kurzweil-ian paradigm, perhaps it is that piece of us that is ‘uploadable’, but then what if someone makes a bunch of copies of what’s uploaded, shuffles them somehow, and then each copy is asked to pick out which one it thinks was the original? 

Thankfully, we don’t need to get into that for at least a couple more years; in the meantime, in this book and podcast, the view from 40 neuroscientists provides some perspective (I have pasted the contents below).  The podcast is worth listening to, if for not thing else, for its super-creepy demonstration of Google Duplex. 

podcast: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/think-tank/9762512
Book-> “Think Tank: Forty Neuroscientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience”:  https://amzn.to/2s4AQo1

Contents:
Primer: Our Human Brain Was Not Designed All at Once by a Genius Inventor on a Blank Sheet of Paper // David J. Linden
Science Is an Ongoing Process, Not a Belief System // William B. Kristan, Jr., and Kathleen A. French
Genetics Provides a Window on Human Individuality // Jeremy Nathans
Though the Brain Has Billions of Neurons, Wiring It All Up May Depend upon Very Simple Rules // Alex L. Kolodkin
From Birth Onward, Our Experience of the World Is Dominated by the Brain’s Continual Conversation with Itself // Sam Wang
Children’s Brains Are Different // Amy Bastian
How You Use Your Brain Can Change Its Basic Structural Organization // Melissa Lau and Hollis Cline
Tool Use Can Instantly Rewire the Brain // Alison L. Barth
Life Experiences and Addictive Drugs Change Your Brain in Similar Ways // Julie Kauer
Like It or Not, the Brain Grades on a Curve // Indira M. Raman
The Brain Achieves Its Computational Power through a Massively Parallel Architecture // Liqun Luo
The Brain Harbors Many Neurotransmitters // Solomon H. Snyder
The Eye Knows What Is Good for Us // Aniruddha Das
You Have a Superpower—It’s Called Vision // Charles E. Connor
The Sense of Taste Encompasses Two Roles: Conscious Taste Perception and Subconscious Metabolic Responses // Paul A. S. Breslin
It Takes an Ensemble of Strangely Shaped Nerve Endings to Build a Touch // David D. Ginty
The Bane of Pain Is Plainly in the Brain // Allan Basbaum
Time’s Weird in the Brain—That’s a Good Thing, and Here’s Why // Marshall G. Hussain Shuler and Vijay M. K. Namboodiri
Electrical Signals in the Brain Are Strangely Comprehensible // David Foster
A Comparative Approach Is Imperative for the Understanding of Brain Function // Cynthia F. Moss
The Cerebellum Learns to Predict the Physics of Our Movements // Scott T. Albert and Reza Shadmehr
Neuroscience Can Show Us a New Way to Rehabilitate Brain Injury: The Case of Stroke // John W. Krakauer
Almost Everything You Do Is a Habit // Adrian M. Haith
Interpreting Information in Voice Requires Brain Circuits for Emotional Recognition and Expression // Darcy B. Kelley
Mind Reading Emerged at Least Twice in the Course of Evolution // Gül Dölen
We Are Born to Help Others // Peggy Mason
Intense Romantic Love Uses Subconscious Survival Circuits in the Brain // Lucy L. Brown
Human Sexual Orientation Is Strongly Influenced by Biological Factors // David J. Linden
Deep Down, You Are a Scientist // Yael Niv
Studying Monkey Brains Can Teach Us about Advertising // Michael Platt
Beauty Matters in Ways We Know and in Ways We Don’t // Anjan Chatterjee
“Man Can Do What He Wants, but He Cannot Will What He Wants” // Scott M. Sternson
The Brain Is Overrated // Asif A. Ghazanfar
Dopamine Made You Do It // Terrence Sejnowski
The Human Brain, the True Creator of Everything, Cannot Be Simulated by Any Turing Machine // Miguel A. L. Nicolelis
There Is No Principle That Prevents Us from Eventually Building Machines That Think // Michael Mauk

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 13:05 by saeed]
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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23 May 2018 18:23
 

What is the “singularity” that we are approaching?

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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23 May 2018 18:25
 
saeed - 23 May 2018 10:41 AM

As we approach the ‘singularity,’ I have been thinking about what it means to be human.  If we move to a Kurzweil-ian paradigm, perhaps it is that piece of us that is ‘uploadable’, but then what if someone makes a bunch of copies of what’s uploaded, shuffles them somehow, and then each copy is asked to pick out which one it thinks was the original?


I don’t know that this speaks to what it means to be human in its entirety, but it seems to me that the crux of this topic is what it means to have self-consciousness.


If our sense of self could be uploaded from our brain into a virtual world, that would mean that consciousness outside of the human body is possible. To my mind that has all kinds of implications regarding things such as what happens to consciousness after death, out of body experiences, and so on. If self-consciousness can exist independently of the body in one substrate, who’s to say it can’t in others?


That said, the idea of uploading one’s actual self on to a server, where outside actors could later do anything to it and who knows where it would end up after a few hundred years, sounds incredibly dystopian to me.


If it’s a matter of uploading some part of ourselves on to a communal server, I’d say this idea is actually more pedestrian than it sounds on the face of it. We already do this all the time with language and various forms of information sharing. So long as our ‘self’ is not attached to it, we don’t think anything of it.

 
 
saeed
 
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saeed
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24 May 2018 09:34
 
Cheshire Cat - 23 May 2018 06:23 PM

What is the “singularity” that we are approaching?

Re your question on “singularity”  please see this:  https://youtu.be/1uIzS1uCOcE  and this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRgMTjTMovc

 

 
RoseTylerFan
 
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25 May 2018 05:47
 

I don’t think there will be a “singularity”. I think the transition to transhuman status will be gradual. It will start with unequivocally positive things like improving the immune system, slowing down aging, boosting intelligence and social skills, etc. The boundary between human and transhuman will be hard to pinpoint, like the boundary between childhood and adulthood.

 
saeed
 
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saeed
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25 May 2018 10:08
 

You may be right.

RoseTylerFan - 25 May 2018 05:47 AM

I don’t think there will be a “singularity”. I think the transition to transhuman status will be gradual. It will start with unequivocally positive things like improving the immune system, slowing down aging, boosting intelligence and social skills, etc. The boundary between human and transhuman will be hard to pinpoint, like the boundary between childhood and adulthood.

Check this out; this was at the google expo about two weeks ago.  It freaked me out.  I have marked the link so it starts at the best part (so it’s about a minute or so from there).

https://youtu.be/bd1mEm2Fy08?t=2m44s

It’s not general AI (we don’t have that yet), but I think it passes the Turing test (am curious to know if you agree?). 
The prospect that narrow AI can even potentially pass the Turing test is quite remarkable and unexpected

 
Twissel
 
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25 May 2018 13:04
 

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

 
 
GAD
 
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25 May 2018 14:45
 
Twissel - 25 May 2018 01:04 PM

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

Indeed.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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29 May 2018 10:23
 
GAD - 25 May 2018 02:45 PM
Twissel - 25 May 2018 01:04 PM

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

Indeed.

Would you rather be attacked, mauled and killed by

a) a zombie
b) a robot
c) a wild animal
d) a space alien?

Because what it means to be human is that we wonder and ponder about things that might kill us, whereas animals just follow instinct.

 

 

 
saeed
 
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saeed
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29 May 2018 13:43
 
Twissel - 25 May 2018 01:04 PM

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

I think you are right; but there is something potentially quite different about this one, qualitatively and quantitatively.  There are a number of aspects to this, and a group that is working on trying to make sure we get this right is here:  https://intelligence.org/

The so called “alignment” problem is particularly interesting:  “As learning
systems become increasingly intelligent and autonomous, what design principles
can best ensure that their behavior is aligned with the interests of the operators?” 
(accessed today at https://intelligence.org/files/AlignmentMachineLearning.pdf)


 

 
saeed
 
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saeed
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29 May 2018 13:45
 
EN - 29 May 2018 10:23 AM
GAD - 25 May 2018 02:45 PM
Twissel - 25 May 2018 01:04 PM

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

Indeed.

Would you rather be attacked, mauled and killed by

a) a zombie
b) a robot
c) a wild animal
d) a space alien?

 

How about “e) not at all”?  But perhaps that won’t be a choice.

 

 
GAD
 
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29 May 2018 16:34
 
EN - 29 May 2018 10:23 AM
GAD - 25 May 2018 02:45 PM
Twissel - 25 May 2018 01:04 PM

Humanity has lived through a number of Singularities: hunter/gatherers couldn’t envision live as farmers, agricultural societies had no way to grasp the rise of manufacturing, ditto industrial revolution, PCs, Internet, Smartphones etc. etc.
When we get A.I. it will change a lot in unpredictable ways… but it won’t be the last transition for humanity.

Indeed.

Would you rather be attacked, mauled and killed by

a) a zombie
b) a robot
c) a wild animal
d) a space alien?

Because what it means to be human is that we wonder and ponder about things that might kill us, whereas animals just follow instinct.

 

I’ll go with D as long as it’s not death by anal probe, then I ‘d “know” they exist.

 

 
 
Jon Walter
 
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Jon Walter
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10 July 2018 06:42
 

I hold that every human being is a human person, and every human person is a human being. I also hold that the existence of a human being, say my own existence, began when my bodily existence began, that is when I was conceived

[ Edited: 17 July 2018 01:23 by Jon Walter]