Eastside Sci-Fi & Fantasy Book Club discussion

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message 1: by PostPerry (new)

PostPerry | 95 comments confession: this was my first Isaac Asimov book ever! and it was wonderful, more than i expected it would be. i loved how he explored the complexity and limitations of the three laws, i loved Susan Calvin (was she in the movie? i don't remember seeing her), and i loved the conclusion.

honorable mentions: the discussion between Greg and Mike regarding the vulnerability of logic to erroneous postulates, the discussion between Stephen and Susan Calvin regarding the perceived inevitability of war with historical and modern day implications, and the word "pallards".


message 2: by Cindy (last edited Jul 11, 2016 03:42PM) (new)

Cindy | 119 comments Mod
This article presents an interesting flip side to discussions (and scientific research) in Artificial Intelligence. The author looks at how metaphors have shaped the study of brains -- the current metaphor being that of computers. He is calling for scientists to get past this.

The Empty Brain:
Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer
https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-doe...


I found it interesting to read, especially against the background of thinking about Artificial Intelligence and what qualifies as self awareness....humanity.... If we aren't even able to understand "Real" Intelligence, how do we understand (or create) an "Artificial" Intelligence?


message 3: by PostPerry (new)

PostPerry | 95 comments im loving that article Cindy, it's quite exciting. I'm trying to connect its perspective wuth my ongoing personal conflict with Free Will arguments, as in do we humans actually have it, and now am trying to overlay the previous discussions that I've read with this IP-brain as a fallacy. does it or will it change our philosophical free will debates? Do/will/'how can' robots have free-will?


message 5: by PostPerry (new)

PostPerry | 95 comments also (no spoilers) but it would be interesting to read Mona Lisa Overdrive (3rd in the Sprawl/Neuromancer trilogy) with your article in mind


message 6: by Cindy (last edited Jul 17, 2016 06:37AM) (new)

Cindy | 119 comments Mod
PostPerry wrote: "also (no spoilers) but it would be interesting to read Mona Lisa Overdrive (3rd in the Sprawl/Neuromancer trilogy) with your article in mind"

It has been so many years since I read the trilogy....honestly, since I devoured the trilogy (read it all in a week). Gosh, it was before I met Jeff. In fact, I had just gotten my MA in literature and was separated from my first husband, and my life was rather up in the air. I wonder how differently my reading of Mona Lisa Overdrive would be for me now.


message 7: by Cindy (new)

Cindy | 119 comments Mod
I feel like we didn't really address the issue of Free Will as much as was deserved today -- my fault for sidetracking by wondering how and why science is addressing this (stuff for me to look up and read, for sure). In any case, the idea of Free Will is such a central guiding principal for modern Western religions, philosophies, and political theory that it should definitely be part of the question asked when deciding what defines an Intelligent Being.

Please bear with me as I wander and shred and misrepresent and probably overgeneralize a bit here. I’m thinking through ideas and just trying to get it down.

Beyond theology and the protestant reformation, Free Will became the foundation of a democratic society. Individuals are equal and free, and with that equality comes both opportunity and responsibility. It is part of how we define who can vote, and it is a premise behind there being a vote at all. The founding fathers were guided by the ideal that society existed of individuals who were not merely defined by the situation of their birth. Every person was worthy of a good life, and every person was also responsible for being good instead of bad. (Of course, not all humans were considered to be a “person,” but I still think this was a fundamental shift toward equality for all)

There comes a time, though, when individuals meet society. Conflict will always occur, so rules are made. Injustices also occur, and hopefully we work through and redefine how we can be individuals within a larger group. We veer back and forth between anarchy and rigidity, and that constant tug-of-war creates both tension and structure. This is that grey area that sociologists and cultural studies theorists love to address.

As a modern woman living in the Western world, I sometimes take as a given that I am unique. That I have a voice. That I am responsible. I am me. My thoughts, not my body or my family’s reputation define me. It is the Act of Thinking that now defines each of us as an autonomous person more than anything else. Indeed, our definition of death is no longer when someone’s heart stops beating, but when his/her brain stops functioning.

Returning back to Robots, to AI, to any sort of machine that is perhaps capable of the Act of Thinking: if it is possible that what we use to define life and death itself exists outside of us as humans, Free Will should be a part of the discussion of sentience, individuality, and Being.


message 8: by PostPerry (new)

PostPerry | 95 comments i think part of my ongoing fascination and struggle with the belief in free will likely stems from its religious origins as you mentioned in the meeting. those seeking to say the free will is an illusion are perhaps in a way arguing in a debate where the original premises are wrong (like the religious chapter in I, Robot). so both sides are fundamentally flawed. as we now no longer base 'life' on the vitality of the heart but recognize the brain as the consciousness control center, perhaps these philosophs, scientists and theologians are not focusing on the right region. like you said it is likely not an either/or scenario and a hundred years from now the whole debate may be a punchline in a VR sitcom.

regarding robots, their inhuman intelligence not withstanding, i wish we'd had time to discuss the religious potential or import of the more advanced AIs we're potentially going to be creating. Potential converts? or generating their own version? Spirituality as a necessary glitch to open the door to greater leaps in reasoning capacity?

oh also one more article wich of course i like because it suits my bias, https://aeon.co/essays/free-will-is-b...


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