More thoughts on issues Kurzwiel stirs in me, mostly defining humanity apart from a solely mechanistic rationale. Searle rebuttals with distinctions between computing symbols and conscious understanding. Dembski follows by showing how computers lack a frame of reference, context (inability to get the joke). Though, how many of us out there are just like that — ha ha.
Anyway,what Searle said got me thinking about the technical services side of the library (that being my current work). Don’t we just sort out [make symbols or code] the info? How much is consciousness understanding or how many decisions require that “gut” feeling? A subject cataloger might argue that it is quite a bit — not a technical service, but an art. Taken too far in my train of thought, I wondered how many of us techies could be (ARE BEING) replaced by technology. In fact we embrace it to a large extent — anything that helps us do our job faster. What we’ve found is that this sometimes causes a predicament. If you don’t use the fast technology your work becomes irrelevant (too slow, unnecessary work to get the job done). On the other hand, embrace it to fully and one might end up wondering what your warm body is even doing there. Maybe that’s drastic. But I have found myself twiddling my thumbs every now and then when a pile of work I tought would take two hours, I managed through in one. This is also partly my keeping up with the pace. My skills [get] faster and computers are [getting] faster.
Is this where libraries in general will find themselves if they embrace too fully the electronic format, if they abandon too fully the traditional library? I guess with relief I return to the fact that coincides with my last statement. Since we (humans) will create the machines, we (librarians) will integrate them into the library. Then — call me naive — I think any further argument Kurzweil makes (machines self-replicating and such) is too “out there” to worry about right now, if ever.