Interviews

Can Robots See God? And Other Mind-changing Questions

Posted 4 Jan 2008 at 23:59 UTC by steve Share This

Each year Edge asks one question of the world's smartest people. This year's question was "what have you changed your mind about and why?" Of the 164 responses, the ones that interest us most are, of course, those touching on cognition, AI, and robotics. Rudy Rucker has gone from believing machines will never fully emulate the human mind to believing they will eventually do so to the extent of having even mystical and religious experiences. But his optimism is matched by Roger C. Schank's pessimism. Schank once believed machines would be as smart as humans within his lifetime. Now he thinks it's so far off even his grandchildren won't see it. Somewhere in between is Daniel C. Dennett's new approach to the homunculus temptation that faces cognitive scientists and may even have a bearing on why many people still suffer from the folk intuition that a computer could never "care" about things in the same way as a human. Rodney Brooks thinks it's time to go beyond the computer as a brain metaphor. The brain is like a clock, a telephone switchboard, a digital computer, why not like the World Wide Web? Going beyond machine evolution to human evolution, Steven Pinker says new evidence has convinced him that the human genome is still under heavy evolutionary pressure, revising his earlier opinion that human evolution ground to halt with the coming of agriculture. For more changes of opinions on politics, science, philosophy, art and religion see the article.

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