Will Hominoids or Androids Destroy the Earth? —A Review of How to Create a Mind by Ray Kurzweil (2012)

In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019). Henderson, NV USA: Michael Starks. pp. 675 (2017)
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Some years ago I reached the point where I can usually tell from the title of a book, or at least from the chapter titles, what kinds of philosophical mistakes will be made and how frequently. In the case of nominally scientific works these may be largely restricted to certain chapters which wax philosophical or try to draw general conclusions about the meaning or long term significance of the work. Normally however the scientific matters of fact are generously interlarded with philosophical gibberish as to what these facts mean. The clear distinctions which Wittgenstein described some 80 years ago between scientific matters and their descriptions by various language games are rarely taken into consideration, and so one is alternately wowed by the science and dismayed by its incoherent analysis. So it is with this volume. If one is to create a mind more or less like ours, one needs to have a logical structure for rationality and an understanding of the two systems of thought (dual process theory). If one is to philosophize about this, one needs to understand the distinction between scientific issues of fact and the philosophical issue of how language works in the context at issue, and of how to avoid the pitfalls of reductionism and scientism, but Kurzweil, like nearly all students of behavior, is largely clueless. He, is enchanted by models, theories, and concepts, and the urge to explain, while Wittgenstein showed us that we only need to describe, and that theories, concepts etc., are just ways of using language (language games) which have value only insofar as they have a clear test (clear truthmakers, or as John Searle (AI’s most famous critic) likes to say, clear Conditions of Satisfaction (COS)). I have attempted to provide a start on this in my recent writings, such as The Logical Structure of Consciousness (behavior, personality, rationality, higher order thought, intentionality) (2016) and The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language as Revealed in the Writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle (2016). Those interested in all my writings in their most recent versions may consult my e-book Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 662p (2016). I will give a very brief presentation of this framework since I have described it in great detail in many recent papers and several books, available on this site and others. Also, as usual in ‘factual’ accounts of AI/robotics, he gives no time to the very real threats to our privacy, safety and even survival from the increasing ‘androidizing’ of society which is prominent in other authors (Bostrum, Hawking etc.) and frequent in scifi and films, so I make a few comments on the quite possibly suicidal utopian delusions of ‘nice’ androids, humanoids, democracy, diversity, and genetic engineering. I take it for granted that technical advances in electronics, robotics and AI will occur, resulting in profound changes in society. However, I think the changes coming from genetic engineering are at least as great and potentially far greater, as they will enable us to utterly change who we are. And it will be feasible to make supersmart/super strong servants by modifying our genes or those of other monkeys. As with other technology, any country that resists will be left behind. But will it be socially and economically feasible to implement biobots or superhumans on a massive scale? And even if so, it does not seem remotely possible, economically or socially to prevent the collapse of industrial civilization. So, ignoring the philosophical mistakes in this volume as irrelevant, and directing our attention only to the science, what we have here is another suicidal utopian delusion rooted in a failure to grasp basic biology, psychology and human ecology, the same delusions that are destroying America and the world. I see a remote possibility the world can be saved, but not by AI/robotics,CRISPR, nor by democracy and equality. Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019)
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