This article was originally published at Psychology Today and posted to the Reddit philosophy board, where it generated over 1000 comments. See the discussion here.
Some of today’s top techies and scientists are very publicly expressing their concerns over apocalyptic scenarios that are likely to arise as a result of machines with motives. Among the fearful are intellectual heavyweights like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, who all believe that advances in the field of machine learning will soon yield self-aware A.I.s that seek to destroy us—or perhaps just apathetically dispose of us, much like scum getting obliterated by a windshield wiper. In fact, Dr. Hawking told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
Indeed, there is little doubt that future A.I. will be capable of doing significant damage. For example, it is conceivable that robots could be programmed to function as tremendously dangerous autonomous weapons unlike any seen before. Additionally, it is easy to imagine an unconstrained software application that spreads throughout the Internet, severely mucking up our most efficient and relied upon medium for global exchange.
But these scenarios are categorically different from ones in which machines decide to turn on us, defeat us, make us their slaves, or exterminate us. In this regard, we are unquestionably safe. On a sadder note, we are just as unlikely to someday have robots that decide to befriend us or show us love without being specifically prompted by instructions to do so.
This is because such intentional behavior from an A.I. would undoubtedly require a mind, as intentionality can only arise when something possesses its own beliefs, desires, and motivations. Continue reading
Group of aliens arrives in UFO (Shutterstock)
According to theoretical physicist and super-genius Stephen Hawking, “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet orbiting round a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.” Indeed, to most modern scientists we are nothing more than an entirely random ‘happy accident’ that likely would not occur if we were to rewind the tape of the universe and play it again. But what if that is completely wrong? What if life is not simply a statistical anomaly, but instead an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics and chemistry?
A new theory of the origin of life, based firmly on well-defined physics principles, Continue reading
Ada Lovelace was a remarkable scientist of unparalleled sexiness. Here’s a list of 9 reasons why she is pretty much the coolest historical figure ever.
1. Ada is often considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. In the 1840s she Continue reading
Recently we posted an article entitled “5 Revealing Scientific Differences Between the Minds of Liberals and Conservatives”, which highlighted peer-reviewed studies that have described their neural and behavioral disparities. Although the experimental results that were presented are indisputable, the (probably quite accurate) subjective interpretations weren’t exactly ‘polite’ towards conservatives. To be fair, we have chosen to write a list of ways that liberals (which I myself am one of) can be just as bad as those on the right, if not worse in some instances, when it comes to believing a big bag of pseudoscientific bullshit.
1. Homeopathy Continue reading
1. When asked by a proponent of faith to justify his “belief” in the scientific method he responded: “If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of planes on science, they fly. If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. It works, bitches.”
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality” -Carl Sagan
It appears that we are approaching a unique time in the history of man and science where empirical measures and deductive reasoning can actually inform us spiritually. But before getting into that, let’s talk a little about how we got to this point.
Can brain differences explain conservatives’ fear-driven political attitudes? See what the peer-reviewed research has to say.
1. Conservatives focus more on the negative In a 2012 study published in the prestigious journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, liberal and conservative participants were shown collages of both negative and positive images on a computer screen while their eye movements were recorded. While liberals were quicker to look at pleasant images, like a happy child or a cute bunny rabbit, conservatives tended to behave oppositely. They’d first inspect threatening and Continue reading
1. Stephen Colbert is thoroughly entertained as Neil does his happy dance, which will make you wanna do the same.