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They were not the backdrop of our lives. Today, however, users are practically attached to their computers—sometimes day and night. More and more human interaction takes place digitally.
As the percentage of time that users spend with computers increases, the amount of humanity that software developers need to take into consideration increases as well. In short, because humans are spiritual beings, software needs to start taking into account the spiritual needs of its users. A few software developers are starting to recognize this need in small ways: The popular business-directed messaging software Slack starts up with a stream of encouraging words.
While the spiritual life amounts to much more than feeling better about the day ahead, it is good that software developers are at least recognizing the problem. As a result, many eminent philosophers such as David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel and scientists like Christof Koch and Tononi have rejected the idea that consciousness is directly produced by brain processes.
They have turned to the alternative view that it is actually a fundamental quality of the universe. Consciousness would have the same status as those. First, it can explain the relationship between the brain and consciousness. Because the human brain is so sophisticated and complex, it is able to receive and transmit consciousness in a very intense and intricate way, so that we are probably more intensely and expansively conscious than most other animals. One of the arguments for assuming that the brain produces consciousness is that, if the brain is damaged, consciousness is impaired or altered.
The puzzle of altruism can also be explained. If, as many scientists believe , human beings are just genetic machines, only concerned with the survival and propagation of our genes, then altruism is difficult to account for. It makes sense for us to be altruistic to people who are closely related to us genetically, but not so much to strangers, or to members of different species. Perhaps being kind makes us feel good about ourselves, impresses other people, or encourages people to be kind to us in return. But these explanations seem unable to explain the full range and depth of human altruism.
If we are fundamentally selfish, why should we be willing to risk our own lives for the sake of others?
Considering spiritual dimensions within computer-mediated communication studies
Altruism is often instantaneous and spontaneous, particularly in crisis situations, as if it is deeply instinctive. But this is something anyone can d In The Age of Spiritual Machines author, and futurist, Ray Kurzweil prognosticates the rise of intelligent machines among other things. But this is something anyone can do. For example, I predict that vehicles will get better gas mileage in than today in and that there will be an increased reliance on biofuels and renewable energy. His predictions for 20 and 30 years will prove to be more wildly off the mark.
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For example, Kurzweil predicts that in 8 years we will have virtually eliminated all paper documents and books. In reality, paper consumption is increasing. I say this because a responsible futurist would couch his vision of the future in caveats and disclaimers as well as make sure the reader understood where the authors knowledge ended and where speculation begins. A crank, on the other hand, stands on the street corner predicting that the end of the world will occur at a specific date and time with a confident assurance that refutes all doubt. Kurzweil takes the latter approach and is wrong again and again.
The reality is that no one can predict the future, and history is littered with the detritus of ill conceived prophesies. But why does Kurzweil get it so wrong? PZ Meyers has a succinct answer to this question with regards to computer intelligence: "Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain". Kurzweil believes existing computer software and circuitry can replicate brain function. Perhaps someday, but at the moment we are no closer to developing machine intelligence than we were when the ENIAC was the state of the art.
This is the same mistake of hubris that humans made when they thought Biosphere could replicate a complete ecosystem. We simply do not have knowledge of sufficient breadth or depth to comprehend the intricate and complex inter-relationships that make up an integrated ecosystem. So … unfortunately, while computers have become faster, they are still very, very dumb.
I originally wrote this review in It's now the next milestone year for which Kurzweil made specific predictions. I thought it would be fun to see how he did. As a reminder, a list of his predictions may be found here.
Let's get started! Kurzweil thinks that the brain is like a computer, or conversely that a sufficiently complex computer can perform all the functions of a brain. Yes, there are similarities … my brain can do math, a properly programmed computer can as well. The summed computational powers of all computers is comparable to the total brainpower of the human race.
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Computers are embedded everywhere in the environment inside of furniture, jewelry, walls, clothing, etc. Fuck you couch … my wallet is in my pocket and I just got paid! People experience 3-D virtual reality through glasses and contact lenses that beam images directly to their retinas retinal display. Coupled with an auditory source headphones , users can remotely communicate with other people and access the Internet.
These special glasses and contact lenses can deliver "augmented reality" and "virtual reality" in three different ways. First, they can project "heads-up-displays" HUDs across the user's field of vision, superimposing images that stay in place in the environment regardless of the user's perspective or orientation. Second, virtual objects or people could be rendered in fixed locations by the glasses, so when the user's eyes look elsewhere, the objects appear to stay in their places.
Third, the devices could block out the "real" world entirely and fully immerse the user in a virtual reality environment. Yeah, this is a plot device in a number of sci-fi stories. But this is still the only place it exists outside of certain specialized military applications … stories. People communicate with their computers via two-way speech and gestures instead of with keyboards.
Furthermore, most of this interaction occurs through computerized assistants with different personalities that the user can select or customize. Dealing with computers thus becomes more and more like dealing with a human being. Nope, thank goodness. Cubical life would be unbearable with all my co-workers screaming and gesturing at their computers all day.
Most business transactions or information inquiries involve dealing with a simulated person. Most people own more than one PC, though the concept of what a "computer" is has changed considerably: Computers are no longer limited in design to laptops or CPUs contained in a large box connected to a monitor.
Instead, devices with computer capabilities come in all sorts of unexpected shapes and sizes. Cables connecting computers and peripherals have almost completely disappeared. I wish.
Wireless exists, but most desktop computers are still tethered by cables ever heard of a USB? Rotating computer hard drives are no longer used. Ha ha! Although solid state boot drives are on the rise they are still much, much more expensive. Three-dimensional nanotube lattices are the dominant computing substrate.
But no. Massively parallel neural nets and genetic algorithms are in wide use. Artificial intelligence has yet to come to fruition.
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Maybe someday. Destructive scans of the brain and noninvasive brain scans have allowed scientists to understand the brain much better. The algorithms that allow the relatively small genetic code of the brain to construct a much more complex organ are being transferred into computer neural nets. Not really. Pinhead-sized cameras are everywhere.
Nanotechnology is more capable and is in use for specialized applications, yet it has not yet made it into the mainstream. Thin, lightweight, handheld displays with very high resolutions are the preferred means for viewing documents. The aforementioned computer eyeglasses and contact lenses are also used for this same purpose, and all download the information wirelessly. This part is wrong outside of a few glassholes, but we certainly have wireless.
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Computers have made paper books and documents almost completely obsolete. But I think this is certainly the trend. Digital books outsold paper a few years ago. Most learning is accomplished through intelligent, adaptive courseware presented by computer-simulated teachers.