I just got Are We Spiritual Machines and am worried that it is going to be a difficult read. I suppose as an optimist, I should say it will be a challenge. Already I’ve come to these thoughts.
Does it matter? If it is true — and I actually believe, for what its worth, it probably is possible on the terms Kurzweil describes — to have computers which exceed human intelligence. Here is the challenge: believing in the terms themselves. As Searle explains, the theories by which Kurzweil concludes these arguments are theories of his own invention. And this is the pattern of the entire scientific materialist, naturalist argument. Accepting these terms goes contrary, not only to what I believe, but also to what seems common sense. Therefore, philosophizing the possibilities of this thought seems like a ridiculous and daunting task. I also admit my fear that I don’t have enough to refute this thought either. I just have what I believe, what I have faith in. I was able to see that Searle and even Denton at times put into words the arguments I feel in my gut. One being, from Searle, as I referred to earlier that the theory itself is based on theories that Kurzweil invented.
So, ultimately I’m back to my question of does it really matter — well I suppose ultimately this is what I am supposed to figure out through reading it. Why does it in fact need to meet a wider audience? What issues does it bring to the field of information management? This is what all my friends are asking me: “So why are you reading that?” “What does that have to do with libraries?”
To answer that at this stage seems premature, but my guesses are the same social issues that Fahrenheit 451 bring up. Kurzweil does bring up the issue of regulation. How do you regulate this kind of technology that is (in his opinion) only the natural next step in the evolution of man? It is noted that the circumstances in which this is developing is not happening within the government, but with individual people and in the commercial market, making regulation of it even more tricky, and the reality and implications of it more frightening.
Kurzweil, R., Richards, J.W., & Gilder, G. F. (2002). Are we spiritual machines: Ray Kurzweil vs. the critics of strong AI. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.