The blogger IIB has long posted about DARPA and its involvement with Google and its founders to bring about a self-sustained distributed artificial intelligence in order to trigger a Technological Singularity.
I used to be a supporter of a Singularity, until I realised that it could make the human species extinct, of which I’m no fan. And creating machines that are conscious like humans is a tall order, maybe impossible to build.
But that doesn’t mean the possibility of the event occurring is diminished, one has to take into account the power of intent.
And no one entity is more intent than the US Government’s DARPA:
The idea behind Darpa’s latest venture, called “Physical Intelligence” (PI) is to prove, mathematically, that the human mind is nothing more than parts and energy. In other words, all brain activities — reasoning, emoting, processing sights and smells — derive from physical mechanisms at work, acting according to the principles of “thermodynamics in open systems.” Thermodynamics is founded on the conversion of energy into work and heat within a system (which could be anything from a test-tube solution to a planet). The processes can be summed up in formalized equations and laws, which are then used to describe how systems react to changes in their surroundings.
Now, the military wants a new equation: one that explains the human mind as a thermodynamic system. Once that’s done, they’re asking for “abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems” that display the PI principles. More than just computers that think, Darpa wants to re-envision how thought works — and then design computers whose thought processes are governed by the same laws as our own.
Over the centuries up until the present times, mankind’s intelligence has been attributed to something “outside” of our physicality, the ‘soul’, cosmic awareness, doppelganger, astral body and ‘consciousness.’
Empirical science with it’s “if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist” approach has worked fine in a lot of discoveries over the past 300 some-odd years since the “Enlightenment” era and I can’t bitch too hard about it.
Without it, I wouldn’t be here today to discuss this topic.
But I have also found during the past two years that reality has more subtlety than what is quantified by empiricism, or what limitations our instruments currently have in measuring ‘reality.’
And what accounts for mankind’s awareness has been a huge bug-a-boo for science to get a handle on, since so many people in this day and age take it on faith alone that we exist after physical death.
DARPA must have an abundance of transhumanists and singularitarians working for them because that is a basic tenet of their philosophy; human beings are ‘meat’ or wetware holding intelligence or ‘consciousness’ that can be measured and ‘downloaded’ into immortal hardware, or another computational medium.
Here we have an example of the attempt to build consciousness from scratch, either through some enhanced biological medium, or non-biological forms. Perhaps a bit of both.
I’m not sure it’s possible to do this, if it is just a matter of recreating the human brain, I think we would’ve done it already, if we’re just ‘meat.’
I’m reminded of my first psychology professor years ago who taught that “human beings are greater than the sum of their parts, a gestalt, if you will.”
Basic, but I still remember it to this day. Probably because there is a simple wisdom to it.
Perhaps some good will come from this research; the development of artificial brains would be beneficial to brain accident victims, Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s patients.
Unfortunately, DARPA is a military research organisation first and foremost. As the article indicates, the first recipients in these experiments are to be autonomons used as cannon fodder, or severely brain damaged soldiers augmented and sent back into the field. Again as cannon fodder.
What will happen if these beings do turn out to be “conscious?”
Will human-rights organisations speak up for these first true transhumans?
Better yet, will self proclaimed transhumanist organisations speak up for them?
Darpa: Heat + Energy = Brains. Now Make Us Some