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Archive for the ‘Emergence’ Category

Continuation of: Focusing on “Autonomy”

I’ve been trying to reconcile Rafe’s an my views on this topic.  I actually think we agree on the broad themes related to our argument over “autonomy”.  From my perspective, it seems like the only real disagreement is on the implications for humans.

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Continuation of: Superfoo

Rafe and I had a great chat on the phone today about Superfoos.  I think we agreed that there will be multiple instances of agents emerging in the level immediately above humans but there is always a single top-level network in local space.  I think we also agreed that the “awareness” at this level will be different from human -awareness.  It probably won’t subsume our awareness (at least without a technological singularity) but will exhibit properties such as self-preservation.

Where we got stuck was on the concept of autonomy.  Stuck isn’t really the right word.  We both greatly expanded our conceptual space around autonomy.  But we didn’t come to agreement on a definition.  However, it was a very productive conversation, so I thought I’d put my impressions down here.

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Response to Superorganism as Terminology.

I was actually about to post something about terminology, so I’m glad this came up. It’s just so difficult to choose words to describe concepts that have little precedent, without going to the extreme of overloading on the one end (e.g. “organism”) or the other extreme of being totally meaningless (e.g. “foo”). I have tried to use terms that are the closest in meaning to what I’m after but there’s no avoiding the misinterpretation. I can only hope by defining and redefining to an audience that is not quick to make snap judgments but rather considers the word usage in context, we can converge to at least a common understanding of what I am claiming. From there at least we have a shot at real communication of ideas and hopefully even agreement.

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This is a response to Kevin’s post responding to my post.

Rafe makes an analogy to cells within a multicellular organism. How does this support the assertion that there will only be one superorganism and that we will need to subjugate our needs to its own?  Obviously, there are many multicellular organisms. Certainly, there are many single-celled organisms that exist outside of multicelluar control today.  So where is the evidence that there will be only one and that people won’t be able to opt out in a meaningful sense?

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In a previous post I asked what you thought this was:

mystery3

Here is the same system at different resolutions (lowest to highest):

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The following is a recent paper by Henry Heng published in JAMA.  I’ve linked concepts mentioned in the paper to corresponding explications from this blog.


JAMA. 2008;300(13):1580-1581.
The Conflict Between Complex Systems and Reductionism
Henry H. Q. Heng, PhD
Author Affiliations: Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan.

Descartes’ reductionist principle has had a profound influence on medicine. Similar to repairing a clock in which each broken part is fixed in order, investigators have attempted to discover causal relationships among key components of an individual and to treat those components accordingly. (more…)

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Now that I’ve had a week to digest what I saw at the summit, I have some thoughts on the most likely path we’ll take to the singularity. From an absolute perspective, this path isn’t very likely because there are a lot of different ways to get there (or not get there). But given what I’ve seen so far, I assign this path the highest concentration of the admittedly diffuse conditional probability mass.

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