Posts Tagged ‘ memory ’

Journal 09-18-03

Watched the Hollywood version of Solaris to my regret.  I started the Tsarkovsky version sometime last year, but wasn’t able to finish it.  That one seems really interesting and much more deep. But, I suppose this version wasn’t a total loss.  In fact, I think it brought up some interesting and relevant issues.   The basic idea is quite similar to Kurzweil’s proposal that it will possible to have computers that will be just like us, exceeding our intelligence and perhaps even biological functions.  Kurzweil belived that this will be our creation.  But, in the movie, it is believed to be created by artificial intelligence called Solaris.  Now, perhaps Kurzweil believes that Solaris is what we humans will in fact achieve, in that Solaris is not purely a mystical but a technological and a product of natural law, thought that law hasn’t been discovered on earth or explained [in this movie].  The doctor in the film is able to figure out the biology of it and combat it.

So in more detail about how this possibility presents itself:  It seems like Solaris reads human minds (including emotion) and then creates “visitors” based on that.  At first it seems to be solely based on memory, therefore in the main character’s case, since his visitor was dead, the existence of this visitor is limited to what the person remembers.  This also means the immortality of the visitor comes to the same point.  As the visitor said: “I’m suicidal because that’s how you remember me”.  But [the visitor] doesn’t ever die and instead seemed to go through a reverse process towards resurrection.  The amin character isn’t convinced that we are predetermined to repeat our past.  He believes he can pick up where he mistakenly left off (the fight before her suicide)and start anew, make changes.  The problem is, that even if it were possible, the future is created based only on HIS version of everything.  At the end of the film the thing that bothered him the most was the thought the he had remembered it wrong.  Remembered her according to his version of her.

That is the key!  At another point in the film debate of the existence of God obviously comes up.  And he characteristically believes that there can be no God, that our lives are just mathematics and logic.  She disagrees, naturally, mentioning that proof of God is awareness of mortality.  It doesn’t get debated any further.  But, while she (in remade-post-death-Solaris-form) is able to remember, to have accurate memories and emotions, she is also aware that she has not experienced it.  This is because it is HIS memory and not hers, which ended when she died (stopped being uniquely created and capable of creating memories).  She is not real because she can’t die in this form.  It is not just logic and memories and mathematics. There is more.

The ending didn’t quite sell me.  It is the same scene from the beginning before he goes to Solaris.  The events are repeated with minor changes.  1) Her picture is on the fridge (a point of contention: in Solaris he thought it odd that there are no pictures in his house since she died) 2) his cut doesn’t bleed, though he puts it under the faucet as if it were [as he remembered it].  He eventually sees that she is actually there. She convinces him that this time it is real, all our sins are forgiven.   It is very vague and lacking depth.  It’s the difference between the ultimate state of human reality being 1) a perfect world as we imagine it with pictures on the wall and getting to be with your wife and all your sins are forgiven (though you never worried or cared about it in the first place) and 2) sins are forgiven as ultimate freedom and individuality.  That was the key statement, actually, it was the only statement she made so the rest of it just didn’t provide the substance to back it up.  But to define more clearly the vague point:  she was real and he was real and they had nothing to do with it.  It wasn’t just the sum of their parts, but merely the idea that they are real.

**I’m going to have to watch this again tonight and fill this in – I think.**

Journal 09-17-03

A classmate wrote on the discussion list:

The biggest flaw with Kurzweil is that he uses the term spiritual .  I think he did this more for shock value than anything else.  He doesn’t equate spiritual with any sort of what I would consider spiritual, but rather use it as a synonym for conscience.  That is certainly not the connotation that one associates with spiritual.

I had this thought too, though more vaguely.  One of Kurzweil’s critic’s arguments focused, sort of, on this aspect.  Basically, this critic was saying that to use the word spiritual is to give it a lesser meaning or a watered down version of what spirituality means.  But, I tend to agree with my classmate’s more concrete statement that the word spiritual should be thrown out altogether.  It is simply the incorrect term to use and perhaps he DID use it for the controversial effect.

A funny conversation on what makes humans human.  My friend was wondering what it is that causes us to be bored. Do computers become bored?  Is boredom a chemical state of the brain?  I thought this was an interestingly depressing case for humanity.

Although, another case I’ve heard before is the idea of memory.  I think this one Kurzweil would be more enthusiastic about making a case for (that it is memory where computers exceed humanity).  But  how do you determine why my version or memory of something varies from another, though it is the same event being remembered?

**reminds me of a THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode clip**

What frustrates me (among the MANY things that do) is that [my attempt to defend humanity] seems to all amount to distinctions that really can’t be defined, at least not by science.   I believe it is quite clear by faith.  However, a scientific faith is sort of implied and one of Kurzweil’s critics points out this “promissory evidence’ as a weakness.  This is similar to allowing that because Kurzweil’s theory makes sense (to him) and he may have some to it from a theory that is actually credible, this does not make the result credible or the promissory result credible.

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