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Category Archive: Science

Singularity is ONLY about intelligence. Conscious computers are a million years away.

Consciousness is not a program but a set of feelings that arise from millions, even trillions of life-preserving 'programs' (in the case of man). It is an EVOLUTIONARY outcome, not an outcome of intelligent design.

Only living things can 'feel', for these (feelings) are biofeedback signals of various elements of the "life" program.

So here is further proof that Kurzweil is wrong about the Singularity representing consciousness. It is ONLY about intelligence, which is but a minor sub-set of the processes that protect our existence. I have no doubt that computers can become intelligent (in a SUBSET of the fields of intelligence) by 2040. They will therefore help expand the mind of man. But will NOT take over mankind.

EXTRACT FROM FB

Sanjeev Sabhlok

I CAN'T AGREE WITH KURZWEIL ON THIS. I disagree with his definition of consciousness. "Intelligence" is not consciousness.

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"When computers do reach the stage that they can compete with, or outstrip, humans in intelligence, Kurzweil said that he is ready to accept them as conscious beings. There is no experiment that can be run to determine if an entity is conscious, he said, but robots and computers will likely someday claim to be experiencing it. He described accepting their consciousness as a “leap of faith” that other people will take too."  [Source]

Sharad Bailur How do you know that I am conscious? The concept itself is subjective. Hence the Turing test and other such attempts. We may never know that a computer is conscious except when it tells us so. And since we built it we may not recognise its telling us so, as consciousness. This is an issue that needs to be solved first before we talk about consciousness. But then it takes us iinto philosophy iin the absence of other tools.

Sanjeev Sabhlok "How do you know that I am conscious?" I've dealt with extensively on my blog recently. Basically, life (from which originates any form of consciousness) has a will to live.

You have a will to live. You know that "you" exist and will fight to defend your existence. I explained this in a number of contexts, e.g. Deepak Chopra's challenge to Randi, etc. Let me link a few blog posts on this topic.

All properties of life are crucial in any organism that claims to have consciousness. Being "conscious" without having the ability to act, to defend, to self-sustain, is not possible. That (AI) is a mere appendage of the human being.

Sharad Bailur I am not sure that a desire for survival ( or will to live as you call it) is an indication of consciousness. A desire for survival can be programmed into a computer. In fact Asimov based one of his three laws on it.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Desire for survival is not a conscious "desire" alone – it is an urge at a level far more fundamental. It harks back to the concept of life itself. There are many other characteristics that underpin the "feeling" called consciousness. Just solving problems is not consciousness. A complete sense – and "innate" need – of independent existence is crucial.

Bhagwad Jal Park Yup, the "desire for survival" is a behavior that can I can write a (sufficiently advanced) program to emulate. In fact, this whole point is a bit moot. You can claim that I'm conscious, but you have no proof. On the other hand, I can say that I'm the only person in the whole world who is conscious. The rest of you just act like it .

More importantly, we ourselves are machines. Incredibly complex and sophisticated no doubt. But still machines. Unless one starts talking about things like the "soul" etc.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Bhagwad Jal Park, you missed the point. Consciousness is definitely a program of some sort, but it is not something that is "written", it evolves – through evolutionary fight for survival.

Bhagwad Jal Park Sanjeev Sabhlok If nature evolves it, we can create it given the right tools. The brain is just a physical machine after all no?

Sanjeev Sabhlok The brain is a machine with a PURPOSE. It is an evolutionary tool designed to propagate life. It doesn't exist in isolation, like a "stand-alone" computer.

Bhagwad Jal Park The brain's drive is to make us have sex. Having children is a side effect. The brain doesn't care if we procreate or not. As far as nature is concerned, sex is good enough. It's a different matter that we have cheated nature via contraceptives! There is no "purpose", no intelligent design. Without intelligent design, there cannot be a purpose. By pure chance, the drive to have sex aids procreation, so those genes got passed on. There is no guiding hand here.

Sanjeev Sabhlok "The brain doesn't care if we procreate or not". Bhagwad, I trust you are fully on top of evolutionary theory. It is NOT that any creature "decides" to reproduce in order to pass on its genes. Instead, ONLY those creatures that succeed in passing on their genes get to do anything in the future. We only see those that succeeded: hence only those behaviours that lead to success survive. Others die out.

I don't mean that a "purpose" in the sense of "intelligent design", but in the sense of the logic of evolution: only those creatures that survive and reproduce get to live. This business is purely driven by FITNESS, not by "design".

Consciousness is but a small TOOL to survive into the future. It is like having leg or tail. Just one more evolutionary tool. A tool created for a specific "purpose" (in the evolutionary sense!).

There is no underlying logic for AI to survive into the future as a separate entity. If any AI robot tries to dominate me, I'll "kill" it by switching off its power – or otherwise sabotage it.

Since the AI machine was not evolved into its current form (at singularity) but created through "Intelligent design", it is NOT based on the principle of fitness. Hence its "consciousness" is just a program, not an evolutionary tool.

Unless it demonstrates an ability (and determination) to conquer mankind and possibly enslave it, all AI will be mere automation: an appendage of man.

Only if it is determined to survive on its own, to pass on its 'genes' (in the evolutionary, not "intelligent design" sense) and DOMINATE other creatures, will it display "consciousness" in the wakeful human sense of the word.

Bhagwad Jal Park I agree with most of what you say. There is indeed no "decision" to reproduce. Similarly, no creature "wants" to pass on its genes either. All creatures care about is having sex which so happens to pass on genes. One can say that the desire to have sex is directly linked to "fitness".

Consciousness is definitely an evolutionary tool. But if we understand how that tool works (and there's no reason why we will not be able to do so), there's nothing to stop us from transferring that tool onto any mechanical device if we know how.

Also, a machine can be conscious and STILL be an appendage of man. Unless some scientist or programmer decides to program it to survive and reproduce, or whatever. Which might very well happen. In fact, I don't see how it can NOT happen.

I can very well program a creature with an imperative – "go forth and reproduce"! No one is stopping me.

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MY LAST COMMENT: I am glad that Bhagwad agrees that consciousness is not a simple 'program' but an evolutionary tool to preserve life.  I think Bhagawad is being arrogant to imagine that he can "program" something to reproduce and give it the properties and 'needs' of life.

I am pushing that event back another million years. This is not to prevent people from writing such programs or making progress. Simply that this is not something that will happen soon.

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Insects, insects everywhere, but we curl up our nose at this packet of protein. Totally avoidable malnutrition in India.

My first recollection of humans eating insects was in an English documentary (I forget its name) in which Africans were shown eating bees that they had extracted from an bee colony. They seemed to eat the bees together with the honey. Not very sure what I saw, it was when I was around 5 or 6 years old.

Later, one of our servants in Pune (when I was around 20) helped me remove the termite hills in our backyard. He always pocketed the queen termite and took it home – which was in our backyard – to feed his family. Apparently it was a delicacy. I don't recall his 'origins' but he was perhaps from some 'lower' caste or tribe.

In Assam I heard about (did not directly see) tribals who ate insects.

But Youtube is a real eye-opener. Now one can see not only how insects are widely eaten across the world but through google,find out much more than one ever knew before.

South East Asians are flourishing (IQ wise) by eating whatever proteins they can get, while South Asians have the world's lowest IQ and refuse to eat animal protein. Amazing stuff one learns from Youtube. This is called REAL learning.

In South Africa mopane worms are considered a delicacy:"One of the things that Solly most looks forward to about going home to the Limpopo Province is eating mopane worms." [Source]

"mopane worms can be soaked to rehydrate, before being fried until they are crunchy, or cooked with onion, tomatoes and spices and then served with sadza" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonimbrasia_belina]

"Dried mopane worms have become a multimillion-dollar industry, even exported to countries like South Africa and Botswana. They can be found in African restaurants in Paris." [Source]. This is a multi-million dollar business, so it is worth trying to grow in India, if only to export to other countries.

INDIA HAS INSECT EATING KNOWLEDGE

ASSAM:

"The report identifies parts of India as being among several places where insects are already a part of traditional diets. The practice of eating them seems to be limited to tribal regions in Assam and central India. Bodos consume insects such as caterpillars, termites, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles every day, according to Hazarika’s initial report. In fact, these insects can be considered a staple. They supply as much nutritional value in terms of proteins and vitamins even when preserved for later consumption. When Hazarika began his studies, his team identified 10 insect species commonly consumed by the Bodos. That number has now grown to 29." [Source]
 

and

The study reveals that the community consumes a total of 10 (ten) species of edible insects belonging majorly to Hymenoptera, Hemiptera,  Orthoptera and Coleoptera orders. The nutrient values were also found out. As regards the consumption is concerned the study showed that 60% are at larval stage followed by mature 25% and 10% adult and rest live respectively. [Source]

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

"We prepared a consolidated list of edible and therapeutic insects used in Arunachal Pradesh (N.E. India) by two tribal societies (i.e., the Nyishi of East Kameng and the Galo of West Siang). The list is based on thorough, semi-structured field-interviews with 20 informants of each tribal group. At least 81 species of local insects, belonging to 26 families and five orders of insects, namely Coleoptera (24 species), Orthoptera (17 species), Hemiptera (16 species), Hymenoptera (15 species) and Odonata (9 species), are being used as food among members of these two indigenous societies." [Source]

BASTAR

Bastar has insect-eaters too. And the insects are presumably very good! (if the foul mouthed Gordon Ramsay likes them they must surely be good).
Here's a GREAT commercial opportunity (only thing: we can't have mass harvesting of wild ants, as that will destroy the ecology. We need insect husbandry.

 

THAILAND IS INSECT HEAVEN

"Insects as a Delicacy and a Nutritious Food in Thailand"

JAPANESE LOVE THEIR INSECT SUSHI

Japanese are enterprising, as well.

AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINALS GOT A LOT OF PROTEINS FROM INSECTS

"Edible either raw or lightly cooked in hot ashes, they are sought out as a high-protein food by Indigenous Australians. The raw witchetty grub tastes like almonds and when cooked the skin becomes crisp like roast chicken while the inside becomes light yellow, like a fried egg" [Source]

INSECT COOKBOOKS

There are a number of books on cooking insect:

The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet

Eat-a-bug Cookbook: 33 ways to cook grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, centipedes, and their kin

FAO strongly recommends insects in the diet

Edible Insects: Click to download

And this (click for the book).

DO I EAT INSECTS?

Well, no, but  if hygienically processed and cleaned, and cooked according to the best recipes, I'm willing to try them out. And from what I hear, some of the insects are true delicacies. Some bugs are apparently tastier than prawns. Same texture, even better taste.

Why not?

In any event, it is important to explore this avenue of protein and food for mankind. And particularly for malnourished India, which is virtually floating on a sea of insects.

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Further notes on the brain as a quantum computer and why the singularity is still far away

I've been thinking further about AI, and it seems to me that the singularity is very far away.

AI has already created music but can it create (not copy) complex music like a classical raga on the violin? Beethoven? Even assuming it can do that, can it also do the 10000s fo other things that a human brain can do? – including (say) playing tennis, praying to God, creating art or new ideas. General intelligence is not just about rationality but about emotion – and feeling. It is also not just about solving problems but about identifying (even creating) problems where none exist. And a machien doesn't barter. It doesn't need money, it doesn't have self-interest, leave alone altruism. And what about DNA that can create ENTIRE humans from scratch, matching parental physical features and temperaments? Surely just a mere "high level coding" of proteins is insufficient. Information is surely stored at a quantum level. 

I came across a scientist who has confirmed that all creatures (therefore even bacteria) have some form of consciousness. He demonstrates how the mind emerges from feelings. [I can't readily locate where I read this - in the past two days, but here's a related one]

This merely makes the job of AI so much harder.

But the other thing I've noted is the complexity involved, which can't be dealt with by the biological hardware we have. It would need computing at a deeper level, possibly quantum computing.

Turns out that quantum computing can actually occur at room temperature (in fact, has already happened).

In sum, the singularity is not happening anytime soon because it would need (a) a computer that can "feel" (e.g. pain, heat, etc.) and (b) require quantum computing at room temperature.

ADDENDUM

This is what Ray Kurzweil calls consciousness:

When computers do reach the stage that they can compete with, or outstrip, humans in intelligence, Kurzweil said that he is ready to accept them as conscious beings. There is no experiment that can be run to determine if an entity is conscious, he said, but robots and computers will likely someday claim to be experiencing it. He described accepting their consciousness as a “leap of faith” that other people will take too.​

I disagree with this definition of consciousness. "Intelligence" is not consciousness.

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Jim Bolen’s personal experience about blood pressure reduction through water and natural salt is likely to be true

ADDENDUM: SEE MY NOTES AT THE END

I normally have a BP of around 120/80 but the last time I went to the doctor it turned out to be slightly higher. No issue: the doctor thought it was OK, but I've checked with my personal BP monitor and confirmed that BP has indeed gone above its normal level.

Reluctant to go to a doctor (I've little faith in most of them), I've explored various opinions across the internet and have arrived at a preliminary opinion on the way forward based on a PATIENT'S STORY that I'm willing to believe in. In general, I'm willing to listen to trustworthy patients who have wagered their own life to try out things, than opinionated "doctors" whose knowledge is stuck in the dark ages.

This is what Jim Bolen, the patient wrote:

TO: Dr. Batman
FROM: Jim Bolen

I discovered the importance of water and salt to the human body in June of 1997 when I failed a medical for renewing my commercial flying license. My pressure at rest was 230/110. I was grounded and told to see my personal physician. He told me I needed blood pressure medication, but I decided I was not going on any medication yet.

I left upset, in denial. My blood pressure had always been 120/80. I got a second opinion weeks later after trying garlic, herbs, vitamins, exercise, meditation, and found it still a solid 180/100. He told me if I didn't go on medication, my heart would enlarge and I would have a heart attack or stroke down the road.
I went home, depressed. I didn't want to accept old age at 54. I was telling a friend about my situation when a retired chiropractor told me about your book ( Your Body's Many Cries for Water). He loaned me his book and told me to stop all caffeine for a week, drink ten glasses of water, and add 1/2 tsp (teaspoon)of salt to my diet.

I looked at him like he was crazy. I had been on a salt-free diet for years. [Sanjeev: salt-free led to massive BP] Thank God for your book, Dr. Batmanghelidj, and Dr. Lee Hobson for his time and generosity.

My blood pressure is now 117/75. I'm taking no medication at all and I have unlimited energy at 58 years old. No more headache or lower back pain; sinuses are clear and no constipation.

Thankfully,

Jim Bolen
Indio, CA

I listened to Jim today on youtube, and he seems entirely believable (also associated videos). In sum, I'm willing to accept that WATER MIXED WITH NATURAL (ROCK/SEA) SALT AND GLUCOSE (NOT FRUCTOSE) – taken in a good quantity each day, is likely to significantly improve health. [Why not fructose - this is why] I'll monitor BP over the next few weeks and report if this simple (and very cheap) remedy has brought my BP back to normal.

Happy to hear from any reader who has experimented with such SIMPLE and natural (but scientifically valid) remedies.

WHY IS THIS SCIENTIFICALLY VALID?

I believe this has at least some scientific credentials.

At one level this sounds really tame. Haven't we all heard about drinking 8 glasses a day.? "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day." That's about 1.9 liters, which isn't that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations." [Mayo Clinic]

"Mr. Priessnitz advised him to drink bountifully of cold spring water, and to use it constantly in external ablutions. From that time to the present, he has seldom failed in drinking from ten to fourteen glasses of water a day. On the day of our departure we had been at Graefenberg three months, during which time our health was perfectly established; we acquired the habit of living more moderately, of taking more exercise, of drinking more water, and of using it more freely in external ablutions than we were accustomed to, and, I may add, that we have learned how to allay pain, how to ward off disease, and, I hope, how to preserve health." (regarding the recommendation of 19th century hydrotherapist)

But the issue is most of us don't take this much water. And definitely not the necessary SALT and minerals along with this.

But not too much salt (e.g. don't drink sea water)!

It is critically important to remember that modern research does NOT support drinking too much water:

A few years ago Heinz Valtin, a kidney specialist from Dartmouth Medical School, decided to determine if the common advice to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day could hold up to scientific scrutiny. After scouring the peer-reviewed literature, Valtin concluded that no scientific studies support the "eight x eight" dictum (for healthy adults living in temperate climates and doing mild exercise). In fact, drinking this much or more "could be harmful, both in precipitating potentially dangerous hyponatremia and exposure to pollutants, and also in making many people feel guilty for not drinking enough," he wrote in his 2002 review for the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. And since he published his findings, Valtin says, "not a single scientific report published in a peer-reviewed publication has proven the contrary." [Scientific American]

Further:

The right way to drink water is on your TV screen. When Tennis legends Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal play five gruelling sets of tennis in the baking sun, sweating profusely, how do they drink? They sip. They may sip at every end change, but they certainly don't gulp. [Source]

The science behind this idea:

FACT: As we grow older our thirst mechanism becomes weaker

Proof:

1) "In people over age 50, the body’s thirst sensation diminishes and continues diminishing with age. Many senior citizens suffer symptoms of dehydration." [Wiki - but no original referencing]

2) "Body water content is higher in men than in women and falls in both with age. Most mature adults lose about 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day. Water loss may increase in hot weather and with prolonged exercise. Elderly people lose about two litres per day.
Elderly people are often at risk of dehydration due to: changes to kidney function, which declines with age, and not feeling thirsty (because the mechanisms in the body that trigger thirst do not work as well as we age)" [Victorian Government]

3) Brain-Imaging Study Tries to Discover Why We Lose Our Sense of Thirst as We Age

4) Lack of Strong Thirst Signals Leads Elderly to Drink Too Little:

"The researchers injected saline solution into the volunteers to make them thirsty. Then they were permitted to drink as much water as they liked, Egan said. The older men drank less water to quench their thirst. PET scans of areas of their brains activated by thirst showed reactions — particularly in the cingulate cortex. "In the elderly, drinking a much smaller volume of water is needed to cause that area of brain activation to subside," said Egan, who is an expert on neuro-imaging. "For some reason, elderly people's attention of awareness of the need to drink to re-hydrate rapidly dissipates after a small amount of ingested water."

FACT: Blood pressure medicines INCREASE dehydration

Proof

1) "Elderly dehydration is especially common for a number of reasons: some medications, such as for high blood pressure or anti-depressants, are diuretic" [Source

FACT: Kidneys throw out more water as we grow older

Proof

1) "we age our bodies lose kidney function and are less able to conserve fluid (this is progressive from around the age of 50, but becomes more acute and noticeable over the age of 70)" [Source]

"The body water content of men is about 60%, but since women have relatively more body fat and less skeletal muscle than men, theirs is about 50%. Body water declines throughout life, ultimately comprising about 45% of total body mass in old age." [Source]

The elderly must not increase suddenly to 8 glasses, but incrementally:

There is a thing called drinking excessive water. Doing so can dramatically deplete our minerals:

Refusal of US science to evaluate this concept:

Refusal of universities to double blind and test it – because it is not even possible to do so

VIDEO TESTIMONY FROM PATIENTS

DO NOT TAKE CORN SYRUP:

NOTES

Day 1: Sunday 30 June 2014. Scrapped my regular tea/coffee entirely and substituted with salt (ground rock salt)-glucose-lemon water solution. Imbibed around 10 glasses of the liquid (plus perhaps half a glass at the gym, which was a short trip given a sore foot). A lot of visits to the restroom, including waking up twice at night for this purpose. Loose motions next day morning. BP had not particularly reduced by next day morning (took one reading next day morning). Feeling a bit weak. I think 10 glasses are a bit too much for the body, particularly when taken all of a sudden.

DECIDED TO REVERT TO SLIGHTLY REDUCED TEA/COFFEE but to add a little bit extra water over the daysThe general theory sounds good, and so it should work over time.

ADDENDUM

More testimonials – from a PATIENT:

ADDENDUM

ADDENDUM: Constitution of minerals in the body:

ECF – liquid containing proteins and electrolytes including the liquid in blood plasma and interstitial fluid; "the body normally has about 15 quarts of extracellular fluid"

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Rapid artificial evolution (genetic modification) of wolves into 400 types of dogs: man-made selection

Chanced upon this vide which demonstrates both how natural selection can be very rapid (wolves converted into dogs in a matter of a few generations) and how artificial man-made selection can super-impose on natural selections to create amazing "unnatural" results.

See also this article.

One key point: the SIZE OF THE BRAIN shrinks during the transformation from wolf to dog, because the wolf needs to assess far more complex environments, whereas the dog is a docile pet, with assured food supply. Intelligence is a function of a CHALLENGING environment.

I recall reading somewhere that our own brain has been rapidly evolving. Did the Indian caste system lead to such effects – apart from the eugenic effects I have already referred to? This also matches my theory of relationship between freedom and IQ, outlined in BFN (most of this particular discussion is in the online notes): if a person is not free, has a permanently lower status, will never get a challenging upbringing with puzzles/ books, then the brain would tend to shrink.

Evolution can take place much faster than most of think. This is a key learning.

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What is the “Singularity” (technological singularity: Neumann/ Vernor Vinge/ Kurzweil)?

I came across the idea of singularity rather late – only about a year or so ago. And since then I've watched a few Kurzweil videos, read a few articles here or there, but not become clear about what exactly is this beast called singularity.

This blog post is a placeholder for DEFINITIONS of the singularity.

WIKIPEDIA

"the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature" [Wikipedia]

JOHN VON NEUMANN, economist/ mathematician

"Singularity is the moment beyond which "technological progress will become incomprehensively rapid and complicated."" [Von Neumann]

VERNOR VINGE, mathematician, computer scientist; Hugo Award-winning author, A Fire Upon the Deep; essayist, "The Coming Technological Singularity"

Singularity is about "superhuman intelligence" [Vernor Vinge] "Vernor Vinge proposes an interesting — and potentially terrifying — prediction in his essay titled "The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era." He asserts that mankind will develop a superhuman intelligence before 2030. The essay specifies four ways in which this could happen:

  • Scientists could develop advancements in artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Computer networks might somehow become self-aware
  • Computer/human interfaces become so advanced that humans essentially evolve into a new species
  • Biological science advancements allow humans to physically engineer human intelligence

Out of those four possibilities, the first three could lead to machines taking over." [Source]

"we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. -Vernor Vinge

RAY KURZWEIL, entrepreneur

Singularity is "… a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lifes, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself". [Kurzweil]

STEPHEN HAWKING

"computers might become so intelligent that they could "take over the world."" [cited in James Miller's Singularity Rising]

OTHERS (INTERPERTORS)

"Vast increases in biological and machine intelligences will create what's being called the Singularity-a threshold of time at which Als that are at least as smart as humans, and/or augmented human intelligence, radically remake civilization." [James D Miller]

"The term singularity describes the moment when a civilization changes so much that its rules and technologies are incomprehensible to previous generations. Think of it as a point-of-no-return in history." Annalee Newitz

"The Technological Singularity is the point in the predicted near future when technology allows the artificial increase of intelligence to a level far beyond that of current human intelligence. It is best described as an intelligence explosion; the event horizon which can not be predicted beyond." [Glyn Taylor]

To summarise

Singularity is NOT just about the Turing test. ["Kurzweil means singularity in a very specific meaning. It means passing Turing test and that’s it, nothing more nothing less.']

Singularity goes well beyond the Turing test. It involves:

a) Superhuman intelligence (AI)

b) Self awareness among such superhumanly intelligent machines

c) Cyborg or other computer-human BIOLOGICAL interface.

Not every person who refers to the singularity means these things but as far as I can gather, this is the BROAD meaning of Singularity.

 

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