I'm new here (as of today), so this is my introductory subject discussion to feel this place out.  I have no agnostic leanings, and my belief is that evolution of all life has occurred over such an tremendously long time frame that it is just too hard for theistic minds to grasp.  I couldn't be more of an atheist, but I am still fascinated by one thing of a mystical persuasion - the mind.

If we were to apply the precepts of Moore's Law to the current state of nanotechnology and our current knowledge of quantum mechanics, it may be feasible that over the next several generations we may be able to create the most basic building blocks of genetic material, and go on to arrange them into genetic material.  One day we may be able to create from scratch a cell, or maybe a seed, or maybe a sperm, or an egg.  Further extrapolation of Moore's Law might bring about the creation of the first synthetic human, identical in every way to the kind that only nature can produce today.  We may even be able to jump start the life force that the synthetic creation needs, so that its heart beats, pumping blood and delivering oxygen from its working lungs to the rest of its body.  But will we ever be able to bring the being out of a comatose condition, producing a self-aware, cognitive person?  And if we did succeed, what are the chances that it would have a deistic curiousity?


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Glen, metaphor or euphemism?

I don't say religion is shit; I say it's fraud. Highly profitable fraud.

Those who were seeking control or profit were a minority, as they are now. Most were hoping to survive and inclined to cooperate, as most are today. A few were looking for a process less painful than the violence they saw, as a few now do.

"House of feces" might be metaphor for an abusive childhood.

I'm just curious here - when you all are referring to AI, do you consider the information programmed into a mechanical robot to be equivalent to the mechanisms that would have to be embedded into the synthetic (but genetically equivalent) brain of the sort mentioned in the article?  Clearly, a useful robot would have a computer brain, which is fundamentally different than an organic one, but essentially similar in that it functions by way of data search and retrieval, with the goal of recognition followed by task performance.  As humans, we rely primarily on memories for this information stream, and those memories may or may not be colored with layers of emotion as well.  Do you think that is something that could ever be digitized from scratch and uploaded into a mechanical being?

Future, so much (if not everything) depends on agreements about language.

"...functions by way of data search and retrieval, with the goal of recognition followed by task performance."

I worked on the software side of the computer manufacturing business and took part in many discussions on the similarities and differences between the brain and a computer.

We humans can see similarities and differences in patterns we have not previously seen. We do it. Who can explain how?

Imagine the software, the machine instructions, that would enable a computer to do the same.

Pattern recognition would not be the mechanism's goal; it would be a necessary means to the mechanism's goal.

How would the mechanism's goal(s) resemble and differ from the goal(s) of its designer(s)?

I would write more but dinner awaits.

I still think that the human mind would be nearly impossible to replicate in code.  Things like analogies, dark humor, inuendo, jealousy, taste, etc. involve pattern recognition that seems exclusive to humanity.  For instance, I saw a cartoon on this site that I found to be hilarious, but to many people it would be abhorent.  It was a picture of Jesus sitting at a nail salon table getting his "nails" done (not fingernails), with that same sad, mopey facial expression you can find on most any crucifix.  There's some fucked up pattern recognition there that programming logic would struggle to understand.

Future, welcome to Atheist Nexus!  I think that we will indeed one day be able to create a completely synthetic life form. (The bigger question is should we? But that is a wholely different conversation).


I think our knowlege of how the brain functions is greatly improving. We are learning more and more about how these brain-functions relate to personality, cognition, sentience and all the other things we associate with 'mind'.  Soon the mind will give way to the brain.  Dualism will become dualism of the gaps, much as god has been religated to these realms now.


I'm currently reading Sam Harris' book "The Moral Landscape" and find it enlightening. He explores the rational description of how we humans define mind and moral behavior.


If you have not already read it, give it a try: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_10/178-3670308-8235517?url...


Welcome again.  You have a lot of responses already, so you've hit on a great topic.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

Thanks Eric - The Moral Landscape is an excellent book. I do way more audio books than actual reading, because my commute to work averages about 2 hrs each way, and I've finished that one twice and Letter to a Christian nation three or four times. Those are my go to books on my iPod when I don't have time to get to the library for new material. Sam is fascinating, as are Hitchens and Dawkins. Bart Ehrman has many books that are must reads for the atheist seeking debate ammunition as well. Appreciate the welcome - I already feel right at home here.

PS - should we create synthetic life might be my next article.

Tom, euphemism is the polar opposite of house of feces. It is stark honesty. Calling a garbage man a refuse engineer is an example of euphemism, or a dump a transfer station. It is putting a gloss on the label not reducing it to its base level.

You may say religion is fraud. It is more apropos and apposite to say that it is house of feces or reconstitutued feces. Fraud require an intent to deceive and reasonable reliance on the part of the duped. In the majority of cases there is no intent to deceive and it is a question of fact whether the reliance on part of duped is reasonable. 

On the other hand the foundation of all religion is shit. It lacks a rational basis and its adherents bask in its stupidity. Step in it and you feel and smell yucky. The zealot thinks he is onto something new and profound and he is only squishing layers of feces with differentiated appelations. Those ideas are not original, they have been around for generations in advance of abrahamic religion. Old and stinky feces.

yickkkkkkkkkkkkk icky

While I agree with that sentiment, I'm of the opinion that if people want to engage in such unsophisticated and vacuous personal endeavors, let 'em.  When they attempt to spread that hooey around outside their private circles is where atheists/agnostics/pantheists/deists are fully entitled to noisily object and vigorously defend the Constitutional wall of separation between government and religion.  If you want to home school your child with biblically flavored science, I pity your child, but that is your option.  With any luck your child will eventually recognize how they have been disadvantaged.  If you want to send your social security check to a tv charletain, that is your option - but don't expect assistance from those around you to make ends meet when things go sideways.  No amount of praying is going to make that happen.

The Dominionistic struggles to weasel into politics and policy did not work out too well for them in November, with a few exceptions.  Atheism is growing, and I'm confident that the best approach is to keep defending the wall until the opposition folds in on itself under the weight of a massive epiphany of critical thinking.  It will be a while, and it will never fully disappear, but fighting religion outside of where it impacts those who want no part of it will only empower them with their war on religion nonsense.

Future, when doing pattern recognition, the brain is a multi-processor.

Ray Kurzwell, in How to Create a Mind, says the secret to understanding the human brain is to realize that it is not a logic machine. It has a weak ability to process logic; it is a superb pattern recognizing machine. ... [Chessmaster] Kasparov looks at the chessboard and compares the patterns he sees to all 100,000 board situations that he has mastered, and he does all 100,000 comparisons simultaneously. There is consensus on this point: All of our neurons are processing -- considering the patterns -- at the same time.

I get book excerpts from DelanceyPlace.com and the above (greatly shortened) arrived today.




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