For the love of G-d

Is there ANYONE out there who can update this damned thing? The instructions from Wordpress are worse than useless, and I neither have nor want the skills required to do it, as I expected. I just want to upgrade from wordpress 2.04 to whatever the damned thing is now.

Autonomy and sentience

Autonomy, really, is the ability to act on ones own. An AGV or a robot or any piece of automated equipment can seem to be acting on it’s own but it is only acting on the instructions of it’s programmer. So what is it that causes real autonomy? Is real autonomy just an illusion and we all act only on the basis of our programming? That is another question altogether, and maybe even a philosophical or theological one, which I won’t discuss here.

The evidence, though, would suggest otherwise. We didn’t drag ourselves from mud huts to an advanced technological civilization by following a program- and if we did, it was written by a paranoid schizophrenic. Religious or not, most people have a specific attitude about free will, and free will is not something we can give a machine. Yet.

Even having free will doesn’t mean having the ability to use it for much. Most of what people use their free will for is to decide whether to have the water or the coke, or the salad or the triple cheeseburger. Not many people will use their free will to invent an airplane or develop string theory. Or even write a song or even a haiku.

Quantum theory tells us we will be able to make faster and faster computers by changing the way computers process information- in the late 90’s a computer called ‘Deep Blue” beat Kasparov, but in reality, it did not “Think”, it simply evaluated all the possible available moves at lightning speed- and Kasparov himself felt that more than the allowable amount of human intervention was taking place. And Quantum will most likely be no different; it will be able to examine different potential scenarios more rapidly, but it will still only act on the programming it receives.

Imagination seems to be the missing factor between that which is programmed to mimic autonomy and that which is capable of true autonomy. We probably don’t have a particularly good idea how imagination works or what drives it, so we probably cannot replicate it in machines, at least at present.

Change takes place because of imagination. If you’re cold, you imagine being warm, and you try to do the things that make you warm. if you’re hungry, you imagine being full, and try to do the things that make that happen. But dogs do that. What dog’s probably don’t do is see the way a leaf floats on the wind, and think, what if I make my own leaf? Can I make it float on the wind? Whoever made the first kite understood this thought process, and the gradual transition from kite to flight was filled with dreams all the way. The apes do this in some small ways, but they don’t generally improve on it, though they have had all the time in the world to do so.

Is it, then, our imagination- our ability to conceive of something that never existed before and strive to make it a reality- that separate us from other creatures? And if that’s what allows us true autonomy- assuming we have true autonomy, can that be programmed? Curiosity and imagination are not something that can be mimiced by a random number generator.

We don’t have to worry about Skynet becoming self aware. We need to worry about it writing a sonnet. When it does that, we are in the shit.

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