Monday, January 08, 2007

A small agenda

Being a little overwhelmed by the response over at The Growlery to a post I had below. Let me see if I can summarize the action in this flick to date:

1. Observation was made of the finding of random statue fragments (I almost said statutory) and the suggestion that information technology, if it can put together the Martian landscape, should be able to piece together the puzzle of a few dozen fragments. After all, a human can put together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle pretty quickly and computers can beat the world champions in chess. I had been meaning to read The Growlery’s article on information processing and, indeed, he did reference this type of puzzle solving but then went on to mention some much more interesting things. I will switch from the terminology "knowledge" to "information" though they may be the same thing.

2. These interesting things included the fact that many organisms, including in large part human beings, must carry their information around with them (we all come with 10,000 genes for smell receptors; 10,000 pre programmed odors!!; gene knowledge and learned knowledge; classic platonic conundrum), that robots may be largely free of such restrictions. While the immediate needs of recognition may need to be on board the robot, a large amount of information in a robot may be stored off site. For example, as the Growlery points out, your personal robot might store your culinary preferences on the moon (as long, of course, as there was “instant” access through, I presume, a rapid satellite bluetooth connection.)

3. The first topic that we need to explore, then, is this idea of information localization. There are a number of fascinating aspects of this including Wikepedia, the fact that the Library of Congress could be put on a small number of CD’s, the emerging paradigm in medicine of information handling (are radiologists obsolete?) and, finally, the concept of human knowledge itself being located off site as in “cultural” or “tribal” knowledge. Pertaining to this the Growlery says:
Survival through all those millennia of pretechnological existence made us what we are: a fixed package of onboard facilities with expansion taken care of by social groupings.
Please take note of the social groupings, i.e. tribes. Is there dispersed knowledge a la Carl Jung? Of course humans now have Google which might make tribes, in the sense of Diamond’s progression of socialization (c.f. Guns, Germs and Steel) also obsolete, along with radiologists.

4. Once we come to some general conclusion about the localization of information (is not "knowledge" just "information" in context?) we need to address the actual procurement of knowledge by the human organism. On this, we will have to rely on some concepts of neurophysiology but will also need to extend it to the molecular level. This will involve a discussion of the “threshold” hypothesis of human action. I can’t wait.

5. With the tools developed in 4, then, and only then, can we address the concept of Free Will from a truly physiologic and molecular way. Even a causal survey of current human activity (particularly on a moral level) will show that if we come to the conclusion that humans do not have “Free Will” in any shape or form, then the entire society from top to bottom has to be rethought (including crime, including Saddam, etc., etc., etc.). Mighty big order, but even more interesting than 4.

1 comment:

Sammy'sDot said...

*YOU* were overwhelmed??? Oh boy!