Re: [unrev-II] Hofstadter's Saturday, April 1st,Special: WILL SPIRITUAL ROBOTS REPLACE HUMANITY BY 2100?

From: Henry van Eyken (
Date: Thu Mar 30 2000 - 04:21:59 PST

  • Next message: Henry van Eyken: "Re: [unrev-II] Hofstadter's Saturday,April 1st,Special: WILL SPIRITUAL ROBOTS REPLACE HUMANITY BY 2100?"

    Wouldn't it be lovely if Stanford were to webcast this also? Or at least make the
    whole available on tape or DVD.



    The idea of downloading brains has been around a long time. One of the places, they
    were dreaming about this sort of thing was MIT. Mention is made here of "whole
    brains," which would mean attachment to heart, lungs, and all sorts of tootsies. In
    terms of consciousness, this would include various levels from dreamstate to full
    perception. In terms of emotion this would include the reptilian, which I
    understand to be pretty well autonomously linked to body parts all around. Etc.

    th this I am an immigrant from Dutch origin, have lived under Nazi nationalism and
    now live in the province of Quebec where the government a few days ago seized a
    plumber's truc for displaying English words with lettering the same size as that of
    French words. So, I wonder whether, also in connection with linguistic nationalism
    and "mother tongue" issues. We need another one of those paradigm shifts that
    forces on our public discourse more clearly a distinction between
    (private-cum-public) left-brain issues and right-brain issues. To, for example,
    take the English that air pilots use to communicate on the job as a left-brain
    issue so as to not get mixed up with that right-brain issue of attachment to mother
    tongfue, whence linguistic nationalism. (Quebec's Minister of Cultural Affairs,
    Louise Beaudoin, has just gone to France tio officially protest against Air
    France's ruling that their pilots use English!)

    I have taken a facet of cultural nationalism here as an example of the danger to
    human wit of not considering the brain as an assemblage, albeit as integrated an
    assemblage one can get, especially taxonomically fully integrated with the entire
    nervous system.

    Computer modelling of human thought processes, even notions of free will (oh, how
    brave to speak of the free!) is one thing. (Ref. Johnson-Laird, The computer and
    the mind, 1988!) Direct electronic communication with locals in the brain is
    another. But down/uploading "whole brains," ... humbug.

    I expect these issues will be thoroughly trodded out next Saturday. Here a cry from
    the east side of the continent, bring your taperecoders along, please!

    IMMEDIATE QUESTION: Notice the time-frames. What ought be the right-brain and
    left-brain content of childrens' education for a lifetime, knowing that early
    education has th elongest-lasting impact.


    Doug Engelbart - Bootstrap Institute wrote:

    > From: Doug Engelbart - Bootstrap Institute <>
    > Forwarded to some of us Foresight friends by Christine Peterson. This bears
    > directly upon the "complex, urgent, huge-scale problems" we kept bringing out
    > in the Colloquium. Are we going to get collectively capable enough, soon
    > enough?.
    > *********
    > Foresight's own Ralph Merkle will participate in an important symposium on
    > machine intelligence this Saturday at Stanford. Organized by Douglas
    > Hofstadter, others involved include Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Bill Joy, John
    > Holland, Kevin Kelly, Frank Drake, and John Koza.
    > Given Bill Joy's recent views on nanotechnology and AI in in Wired, and the
    > known views of some of the others, things may get a bit heated. Let's do our
    > part to keep the tone friendly. Expect to see heavy press attendance.
    > The event is likely to fill up, so to be sure of getting in, you might want to
    > arrive early.
    > -- Christine Peterson, Executive Director
    > -- free and open to the public --
    > Saturday, April 1, from 1 PM til 5:30 PM
    > Teaching Center, Science and Engineering Quad (TCSEQ), room 200 near the
    > Math Corner, Sequoia Hall, and the Varian Physics Building
    > Primary speakers:
    > Ray Kurzweil (inventor of reading machine for the blind, electronic
    > keyboards, etc., and author of "The Age of Spiritual Machines")
    > Hans Moravec (founder of Carnegie-Mellon University's Robotics Institute,
    > and author of "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind")
    > Bill Joy (co-founder of, and chief scientist at, Sun Microsystems)
    > John Holland (inventor of genetic algorithms, and artificial-life pioneer;
    > professor of computer science and psychology at the U. of Michigan)
    > Panel members:
    > Ralph Merkle (well-known computer scientist and one of today's top figures
    > in the explosive field of nanotechnology)
    > Kevin Kelly (editor at "Wired" magazine and author of "Out of Control", a
    > study of bio-technological hybrids)
    > Frank Drake (distinguished radio-astronomer and head of the SETI Institute
    > -- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
    > John Koza (inventor of genetic programming, a rapidly expanding branch of
    > artificial intelligence)
    > Symposium organizer and panel moderator:
    > Douglas Hofstadter (professor of cognitive science at Indiana; author of
    > "Godel, Escher, Bach", "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies", etc.)
    > In 1999, two distinguished computer scientists, Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec,
    > came out independently with serious books that proclaimed that in the coming
    > century, our own computational technology, marching to the exponential drum of
    > Moore's Law and more general laws of bootstrapping, leapfrogging,
    > positive-feedback progress, will outstrip us intellectually and spiritually,
    > becoming not only deeply creative but deeply emotive, thus usurping from us
    > humans our self-appointed position as "the highest product of evolution".
    > These two books (and several others that appeared at about the same time) are
    > not the works of crackpots; they have been reviewed at the highest levels of
    > the nation's press, and often very favorably. But the scenarios they paint are
    > surrealistic, science-fiction-like, and often shocking.
    > According to Kurzweil and Moravec, today's human researchers, drawing on
    > emerging research areas such as artificial life, artificial intelligence,
    > nanotechnology, virtual reality, genetic algorithms, genetic programming, and
    > optical, DNA, and quantum computing (as well as other areas that have not yet
    > been dreamt of), are striving, perhaps unwittingly, to render themselves
    > obsolete -- and in this strange endeavor, they are being aided and abetted by
    > the very entities that would replace them (and you and me): superpowerful
    > computers that are relentlessly becoming tinier and tinier and faster and
    > faster, month after month after month.
    > Where will it all lead? Will we soon pass the spiritual baton to software minds
    > that will swim in virtual realities of a thousand sorts that we cannot even
    > begin to imagine? Will uploading and downloading of full minds onto the Web
    > become a commonplace? Will thinking take place at silicon speeds, millions of
    > times greater than carbon speeds? Will our children -- or perhaps our
    > grandchildren -- be the last generation to experience "the human condition"?
    > Will immortality take over from mortality? Will personalities blur and merge
    > and interpenetrate as the need for biological bodies and brains recedes into
    > the past? What is to come?
    > To treat these disorienting themes with the seriousness they deserve at the
    > dawn of the new millennium, cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter has drawn
    > together a blue-ribbon panel of experts in all the areas concerned, including
    > the authors of the two books cited. On Saturday, April 1 (take the date as you
    > will), three main speakers and five additional panelists will publicly discuss
    > and debate what the computational and technological future holds for humanity.
    > The forum will be held from 1 PM till 5:30 PM, and audience participation will
    > be welcome in the final third of the program.
    > Sponsoring agencies at Stanford: Symbolic Systems Program; Center for the Study
    > of Language and Information; Department of Computer Science; Department of
    > Philosophy; Center for Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities; Channel
    > 51; GSB Futurist Club
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