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4.0 étoiles sur 5 L'intelligence sans le langage: phylogénétiquement impossible, 26 août 2011
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Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Broché)
Ray Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns, the exponentially accelerating rhythm of technological progress is obvious but to quantify the phenomenon is an obsession for him. This brings to a mistake when he says that the doubling of the capability of information technology occurs every year and that it means a multiplication by 1,000 in ten years and by 1,000,000 in twenty years. In fact 11 years will reach 1,024 and 11 more years will reach 1,048,576.

But Kurzweil starts with a mathematical example to explain "the singularity", a mathematic concept adopted by physics that he transfers into philosophy. His example is the function f(x) = 1/x. It is a hyperbole centered on the orthogonal axes of a Cartesian plane. For x = 0 the function is undefined, hence for x = 0 + n, n being as small as conceivable, and a dimension can always be cut in two, f(x) moves towards the infinite. In the same way if x moves towards the infinite f(x) will move towards 0: asymptotic growth. He doesn't consider when x becomes negative though then the hyperbole is perfectly defined, symmetrical to the first graph.

It is the old Achilles and the Tortoise Paradox, thus defined by Aristotle: "In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead." (Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15). In real life, the remaining distance between Achilles and the tortoise either is shorter than Achilles' arm, then Achilles will pick up the Tortoise, or it is smaller than Achilles' step then Achilles will overtake the Tortoise.

In fact Kurzweil ignores (two meanings intended) René Thom's Catastrophe Theory. In such cases of asymptotic growth x reaches the point of a qualitative change, and that is exactly what happens when x is nearing zero. In nature, no matter how small a particle of matter is, there is a qualitative threshold from one state to the other, from a particle to pure energy for example. That's what nuclear fusion and fission produce.

This beginning then falsifies the whole reasoning. There will be a point when technology is so developed that humanity as a whole will step over a limit. When is it going to be reached? For Kurzweil as soon as computers are as intelligent as man, or rather more, and he dates it. In forty tears or so.

Then Kurzweil evacuates the problem of language in about one page and one reference to Chomsky (p. 190). His man, and of course machines have no articulated communicational language. The whole theory is based on the consideration that intelligence is nothing but a problem solving mental procedure. The question is not whether it is genetic or the result of the functioning of the brain. The real question is what is intelligence and where does it come from. The author's insistence on the fact that evolution (producing intelligence) only starts with biology (p. 387), that intelligence is only human, that the rest of the material world does not even contain any rational element, that it is human intelligence, when equaled and overtaken by the intelligence of machines, that will take possession of an essentially irrational cosmos, this insistence shows his man-centered and even machine-centered ideology.

He cannot understand that from the very first instant we may consider, and that is not the beginning of the cosmos or matter - there is something before the big bang - the matter we consider is rational and has an architectural dynamic pattern. From this starting point, which is not the beginning of the cosmos but an arbitrary point taken just after the "big bang", the rationality of each state will produce that of the next. The question is how more than if. From the very first matter particles evolution will produce life. The evolution of matter particles from simple to complex will eventually produce the elements that will make life possible and then, along with this geological evolution, we have the evolution of species where haphazard mutations are selected by natural selection: useful or not for the survival of the individual or species.

Here Kurzweil falls in an enormous trap: language. Human intelligence is based on conceptualizing power. That power can only develop if the mind is able to label these concepts derived from the real referential environment, which means a language entirely invented by the mind in a situation when the body, as a side effect of bipedal running, produces three phylogenic hierarchical articulations in a context of social cooperation and communication indispensable for the survival of individual and species. Knowledge is not given, like with Kurzweil but it is a construct invented through assimilation, which requires a knowledge acquisition threshold implying motivation, transferences and cognitive strategies. All these are absent from Kurzweil's approach. If a machine could produce a father transference hampering or dynamizing its learning, I might become a believing convert.

Last remark: his inspiration, probably unconsciously, is recuperating some old trans-cultural religious concepts. For example the six epochs of the universe (what happened before the Big Bang?) is a very kosher number. "The Singularity will ultimately infuse the universe with spirit." (p. 389) The Messiah of the Old Testament and the Second Coming of the New Testament promise the same illumination, after the end of the material world, with inspiration from the Spirit or the Holy Sprit of God himself. John said it, or Ezekiel did. Kurzweil speaks of "a common Buddhist ontology [that] considers subjective - conscious - experience as the ultimate reality" (p. 388). Total ignorance of Buddhism for which man's lot is the permanently changing cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth, i.e. the concept "dukkha", and the possibility through "nibbana" to move out of it and merge into the pure energy of the universe. This vision of Buddhism seems to be out of Ray Kurzweil's consciousness.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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Message initial: 24 oct. 12 17:03:33 GMT+02:00
FONSECA dit:
What is impossible today will be tomorrow... You are thinking and talking about what is currently known so you are thinking with the current human known patterns, theories, conceptual thinkings or models. What about tomorrow ? In 100 years for instance or even more far away, think about year 0 till now... and apply the exponential growth and impact of the Technology since the 50 last years. E VO LU TION, 4 syllabes that's all.

Stephane Fonseca, not a PhD, just someone thinking global and far away (beyond known biped/carbon/oxygen model)

En réponse à un message antérieur du 26 oct. 12 17:31:34 GMT+02:00
You are micing up what I am saying with things I would not even question, like "evolution" but evolution is as simple as it can be.

The human species is still evolving and and all studies show (I discovered that somewhere around 1986 from my university, University of California) the use of at the time electronic games, and now computers and tablets, as soon as possible, yes as soon as the child is out of his cocoon (I mean his mother's womb) is activating possibilities in the mind that are already there and are not used because they have not been triggered. Machines will never be more intelligent than their inventors because humanity's intelligence will grow as fast and exponentially in its realized capabilities as the machines humanity has produced: the machines humanity produces trigger in man's mind capabilities and possibilities and potentialities that are carried by genes that already are there and have not been triggered yet.

That is "evolution" for me and I repeat that Kurzweil is completely mistaken: there will be no SINGULARITY ever because the brains that invent these machines are potentially stronger and more powerful than the machines they invent.

Have a good training session on your tablet in the clouds.

Jacques
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