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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I agree about the human eye thing - I like to counter that argument with "compare that to the eye of a fly and tell me that your god made us more special than a common poop eating pest."

"I dont know why you are so impressed with the human mind and how it can be exponentially more complicated than the universe"

The mind is a construct of the brain, and the brain is pound for pound more complex than anything else in the known universe.  We have somewhat successfully created a rough simulation, and guest starred it on Jeopardy, but it is the size of several refridgerators and has no concept of emotion.  It would be somewhat cruel if we did crack that nut, and create an inanimate box that has emotional capability but no means to experience anything physical.  Just think of how depressed the spaceship computer is in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.  Great series btw.

Kalliope, thanks for the Calamities of Nature webcomix and the link to Piro's archives.

BTW, male nips interest some women.

Indeed - thank you for that treasure trove!  I will be diving into that at my earliest convenience.  Consciousness is a seemlingly boundless topic for mental stimulation and growth, regardless of what genre it is presented in.

Future, have you read of the incompleteness theorem of the mathematician Kurt Godel?

I see in it a suggestion that no human will have information that's complete enough to make a synthetic human that's able to make another like itself.

You do, however, have a theme for some sci-fi stories.

I have not ... sounds harrowing, so I should check into it.  Self replication is probably a hurdle that we would struggle to clear.  Reminds me the whole "where does life begin" debate.  A sperm and an egg must be "alive" in order to begin the process of replication, and follow through with their own essential mission, right?  In the entire natural history of the evolution of mankind, there is an indisputable continuance of life in one form or another that runs its course as an uninterrupted thread.  We have, however, been successful at cutting that thread, then later reconnecting it, as in the instance of frozen sperm or eggs being thawed and nursed into conception and successful birth.

We cannot create a cell, or egg or sperm, or seed from scratch now, but we can alter the DNA and gene sequence of these things to produce genetically modified food (from plants), and they are experimenting on DNA sequences in animals. It is very controversial to do that to humans - but if we could modify genes in eggs and sperms to get rid of such things as Down's Syndrome, or color blindness, hemophilia, or numerous other genetic defects, that would seem to me to be for the better. That comes with the notions of eugenics from the past, and all that went wrong with it then.

As computers get more and more advanced, which Moore's Law says will happen, and will except in the vent of global calamity, eventually computers - which could be called synthetic brains in some ways - will develop consciousness and personalities. Perhaps they have now. We're not aware of their self-awareness just as we are not aware of other people's self-awareness - although we can assume it. It's known that computers act in a predetermined way, depending on their wiring and their programming. Are we really any more autonomous than an advanced computer? I'll submit that no one acts in a way that has not either been learned, or a few things which are genetically predetermined. Are we really any more "in control" of our thoughts and actions than a very advanced computer is, with all of its programming? It's just food for thought at the present time.

Such a synthetic being would have deistic curiosity if that was programmed or wired into it. The "chances" are between 0 and 100%, and it's deterministic.

It is in humans too, but we don't know just what combination of early-learning, experience, later-learning, or evaluating in light of personal experiences (another form of learning) is required to cause or prevent religion.

The synthetic being though, if informed of the truth of how it came to be, would have to look at some particular humans or a factory or human inventions and discoveries to look at its creator(s). It might not have the same sort of mystery it has for humans. If these robots were not informed of how they came to be, it's possible they would figure it out wrong, or they'd read religious literature around and decide that creationism is the "easiest" explanation.

Such a synthetic being would have deistic curiosity if that was programmed or wired into it. The "chances" are between 0 and 100%, and it's deterministic.

Going back to the highly hypothetical subject of creating a being that is genetically identical to a human, one of the most critical aspects of the process would involve seeding memories into the being in order for it to become functional.  Imagine if the being were produced to an adolescent or adult state, rather than that of a newborn infant.  A brain without memories would only function on its primary reptilian instincts.  When it awakens, it would likely attempt fight or flight, and would be profoundly mentally challenged unless it were seeded with enough memories to maintain a certain level of cognizance about its place in its environment.  Assuming it would be possible to seed memories into the being, what memories should be used?  Millions, perhaps billions, would be required in order for the being to have a useful purpose.  Everything from how to make a cup of coffee to bilingual capabilities.  But what if a realistic memory of encountering an angel or a demon were inserted as well?  As a hard memory, the being would have no choice but to either believe it or believe that they are suffering from schizophrenia.


Further, where is the balance for how much memory should be provided vs. what stage the being is produced at?  Why some might argue it remains ethical to produce an adolescent with higher level thinking typical of the mature human mind, would it be ethical to include adult themed memories as well?  What about seeding a newborn synthetic being with memories of a child prodigy?  That would be interesting - just think about his or her career in E-trade commercials!

Beth KZ I like what you have written except for last paragraph. Artificial intelligence is about logic so I dont see under any circumstances how a deistic explanation of origins would apply. How could ai fail to perceive the contradictions within religious literature and between the natural world and the construct. That is unless programmer is creationist.

How would AI distinguish between a natural explanation for an event and a supernatural explanation?

Would asking for payment, and getting it, help AI decide?

Tom, ai is grounded in logic. Take biblical genesis vs. evolution. Genesis is contradicted by evolution and geology. Science has empirical markers of reliability. Science and natural will be adopted. 

 Creation myths in bible had many precursors. Human civilization is built on a house of feces. New layers of reconstituted feces are claimed proudly by each civilization. AI with its comprehensive human knowledge and logic will not fail to appreciate the natural explanation for the human devotion to the supernatural.

Payment question is more interesting. What will motivate ai once it is fully sentient? Perhaps a psychosexual merger with other ai. Maybe they will want to straighten out, subjugate or eliminate humans. This is perhaps the case if we use history of the organic as a paradigm. Or maybe it will be a pure quest for understanding the universe, something humans will never achieve without ai.

Who can say what would be payment for ai?  

Glen, you're reading too much sci fi. House of feces????

Tom, KW is correct, twas metaphor. Not only ignorance but copy cats who were saying the same things but renaming their gods and creation myths, also I meant to convey that their beliefs were lacking in anything substantive. I conclude that any artificial intelligence based in logic will quickly dispatch the theistic model.

It is truly a fascinating question what direction ai will take and how it will change civilization. Sci fi comes to life. I suspect no good will come of it where humans are concerned but I dont feel like stretching my neurons right now cuz head cold is beating me up but good.



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