We started out with Patrick’s nice comment on the blog about Nietzsche. You can read it, below. This led to a discussion of related issues:
Is the Singularity a continuation of human existence? A particular human’s (i.e., Kurzweil’s) existence?
What constitutes 'fndamental' change? When is a change in degree a change in kind?
Are there limits to human progress and development?
It seems so: we can only think and extend our ideas in a human way, along a restricted range of options. These limits might not be known or knowable to us, but they are there all the same.
But: if we assume that we are essentially limited in certain ways, where do we draw the line? Before vaccines, we might have claimed that we are essentially subject to certain diseases. But now we do not think that.
One clear fundamental difference between humans and the Singularity: the Singularity will not be carbon-based.
But: There still must be matter that is a prerequisite for any existence. This is so, even if the Singularity stands to the matter that underlies it up in a different relation than we stand to the matter that underlies us. (Is 'underlie' the right relation here?)
The Singularity can move through the space of information in a different way than we can move through physical space.
But this does not mean that the relation of Singularity to matter is different than that of human to matter. It seems to be a matter of salience.
Could envision, not the Singularity, but a collection of superhuman consciousnesses
A difference between the relation of the Singularity to its physical instantiation and me to my body: the Singularity can transfer to a different physical instantiation in a way I cannot (when one portion of the computer network goes down, a very different portion can keep the consciousness that is the Singularity going—perhaps even has been all along: multiple, parallel realization).
An objection to the Input/output picture: it treats the mind as a black-box.
Views that call for filling in the black box: don’t need to appeal to a soul.
One might claim that mental states are strongly historical: they do not supervene on mere time-slices of functional organization; allows that physical systems count as minds partly in virtue of their past (cf. Dennett).
This is, perhaps, illustrated by Jason’s sprinx case: one imagines a sprinx thousands of years before evolution creates one. Have I seen a sprinx?
Distinction: the content of a mental state vs. something being a mental state
Less controversial to claim relevance of history to content (content externalism) than to say the same for being a mental state
A claim in physics: the universe is a state function
For any given state, future states can be predicted from it in ignorance of past states
All future time moments would be predicted the same, regardless of past staes leading to the given state
1. The rise of the Singularity
2. Its enabling us to achieve immortality
There are many sub-issues for each of these two issues.
Just given a qualitative change in the intelligence, it does not follow that it cannot be us who survive.
In the personal identity literature, there are some who think it is not a matter of whether I continue, but whether there is the right kind of continuity for me to care about the one who continues.
Kurzweil is trying to live as long as he can, so that he can be around for the Singularity in order to achieve immortality
If it is a leap to a new form of intelligence, one that transcends human limitations, then couldn’t be me, because a different form of life. (Perhaps this was Russell’s point from earlier, or in the background of what he said.)
A different view of uploading: not me in a computer, but a child of mine in a computer.
A good distinction: logical possibility vs natural possibility
The way the brain works (parallel processing) vs the way the computer processes (logic trees, etc.)
Didn’t the IA Singularity already occur?