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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Philosopher Daniel Dennett on AI, robots and religion

John Thornhill
Financial Times
Originally published March 3, 2017

Here are two excerpts:

AI experts tend to draw a sharp distinction between machine intelligence and human consciousness. Dennett is not so sure. Where many worry that robots are becoming too human, he argues humans have always been largely robotic. Our consciousness is the product of the interactions of billions of neurons that are all, as he puts it, “sorta robots”.

“I’ve been arguing for years that, yes, in principle it’s possible for human consciousness to be realised in a machine. After all, that’s what we are,” he says. “We’re robots made of robots made of robots. We’re incredibly complex, trillions of moving parts. But they’re all non-miraculous robotic parts.”


The term “inversion of reason”, he says, came from one of Darwin’s 19th-century critics, outraged at the biologist’s counterintuitive thinking. Rather than accepting that an absolute intelligence was responsible for the creation of species, the critic denounced Darwin for believing that absolute ignorance had accomplished all the marvels of creative skill. “And of course that’s right. That’s exactly what Darwin was saying. Darwin says the nightingale is created by a process with no intelligence at all. So that’s the first inversion of reasoning.”

The article is here.