8 Bit Philosophy: Do Humans Operate Like Computers (Kant + Contra)

Do Humans Operate Like Computers (Kant + Contra)

Do Humans Operate Like Computers? (Kant's Moral Philosophy)

Watch Video

Really enjoying these 8 bit Philosophys. Just wish they were a bit longer/ bit more indepth in the philosophy, but simultaneously understand that not everyone exactly knows much about these topics offhandedly.

In truth.. Humans are no different than computers. THe only real difference is that our wiring is random. Even will is random and can be manipulated if one knows the exact inputs to put in. FOr example if you want someone to open a door. Tell them that they shouldn't open it.

See... to ourselves we seem very complex but to a higher intelligence they simply need to give the right input of stimulus.

Loving this series! Philosophy is always a useful endeavor. And yes, the great problem with Kant is that the "ought" itself could very well simply be a part of the programming. Selflessness is just as much a part of the human condition, the "Programming", as selfishness. In the example given, the choice that best helps the goal of winning the game is to give the pack to player 2. Seeking one's own survival in the game to the detriment of the goal of winning the game isn't a sensible action. Self preservation is useless if the rest of the tribe goes extinct. We are not so much willing ourselves to do what we are programmed not to do as much as our programming is simply more sophisticated than self preservation to the detriment of any other consideration.

It's funny how the last three or four of these have ended up being a reduction to free-will arguments and speculation about whether or not such a thing even exists. Determinism doesn't exist in a universal way, but does it exist in a human mind? Who knows!?

If everything that can happen does happen, what would that change about our neat little made up concept of "responsibility"?
The law isn't in place to guide "free will", even in a fully deterministic world, it is still a factor in the complex but repeatable equation of "fate".
I don't go out to murder people because there is consequence and because I would rather not have that done to me.
The equation right now, at this moment in time, produces the outcome of me not doing it.
What does is matter if I don't do it because I can't or because I don't want to?
Seems just like petty semantics to me.

Determinism does not negate responsibility.
It is like religious people saying that atheists lack "morality" and are therefore okay with murder.
The implied notion that only their religion (or in this case "free will") keeps them from murder, rape and pillage is a bit unsettling and betrays a fundamental lack of understanding how society works.

We don't even know what "self awareness" truly means and arrogantly deny such an arbitrarily made up quality to "lesser" creatures because it is convenient and due to its convenience, no questions are asked and it is an accepted truth.
That's the environment in which this question is being asked. The answer can only be skewed and self-serving and we are still ways off from elevating ourselves beyond that.

Quick answer, yes, since a computer is a person doing calculations. (i'm a glib sod)

People aren't like digital computers since we don't execute software, we arise out of the hardware.

Is almost certainly why so far there are no real software AI's. it may not be possible to run a simulation of something complex enough to thought of as intelligent.

as for free will. if the massive electrochemical jelly that is our brain isn't experiencing some quantum effects hats will be eaten.

I see this topic as identical to the question of free will. The thing is that the pieces that make up our programming (genetics vs environment) are so incredibly randomized as to make up the equivalent of non-forced behavior. To predict our behavior you would not only have to entirely understand our DNA and thought process but you'd have to know all of our environment.

The title is a little misleading. Computers can, in principle, operate randomly. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that humans also have this feature, or at least something akin to in-principle impredictability. The more interesting question, I think, is how humans and machines compute differently at a fundamental level. Machines operate mechanistically - on syntax and syntactical relations - whereas humans appeal to semantic constraints to guide their actions. The hard question: what is the relationship between syntax and semantics? It's hard to make sense of both without a view to what consciousness is, as well as what we think makes up the fundamental elements of the world. Neat stuff!

And *THEN* there's the scientists that claim they have proof that the entire UNIVERSE is just a simulation of one by another group of scientists in another dimension..... :O

Hoplon:

Is almost certainly why so far there are no real software AI's. it may not be possible to run a simulation of something complex enough to thought of as intelligent.

IBM's Watson is an amazing AI tool.
And for that second part: just a matter of time before it's fully possible to have enough computing power to slam it inside a Terminator's brainpan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10567942/Supercomputer-models-one-second-of-human-brain-activity.html

Kenjitsuka:
IBM's Watson is an amazing AI tool.
And for that second part: just a matter of time before it's fully possible to have enough computing power to slam it inside a Terminator's brainpan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10567942/Supercomputer-models-one-second-of-human-brain-activity.html

Wow, one second of 1% of a human brain only took 40 mins to run. what's that? 1/2400 of the speed of human brain? AI is just around the corner! it's only got to scale up some 24000 times to get there!

Lightknight:
I see this topic as identical to the question of free will. The thing is that the pieces that make up our programming (genetics vs environment) are so incredibly randomized as to make up the equivalent of non-forced behavior. To predict our behavior you would not only have to entirely understand our DNA and thought process but you'd have to know all of our environment.

Incorrect actually, as much as people hate it sociology is the science of predicting group behavior and it's wielded with devastating effectiveness. Advertising is an example of sociology in action.

One human "failing" is our refusal to understand ourselves, and want to see each individual as a unique and special snowflake that is different from all others and thus should be handled on an individual level. In reality your a lot like tons of other people, which is the basis for sociology, and where stereotypes come from, stereotypes being very true in fact for the most part, it's just that most people misunderstand them and think it's something like a "cookie cutter" as opposed to a set of shared traits the majority of which will be held by people within the stereotype. People can belong to more than one of them, and in general by trying to deviate you automatically enter into others. Everyone is by definition stereotypical even if they do not recognize the stereotype which they belong to. Being so predictable is terrifying to people which is why there is so much opposition to things like the government wielding sociology for things like profiling, yet in reality we're pretty much hurting ourselves due to denial of our fundamental nature.

Even on an individual level people tend to be predictable and easily controlled. You don't even need to understand the individual all that well, this is why things like hypnosis, brain washing, and mental programming/deprogramming work. People find the idea of re-education camps/centers terrifying yet when created by people who know what they are doing they can be devastatingly effective. At the end of the day if your torment someone enough to bring their survival instincts down to a primal level you can build them back up any way you want. You can change sexual orientation, make someone permanently act like an animal, turn them into someone else personality wise, pretty much anything. You see this to some extent with cults, but really to be taken to it's full potential you need a closed environment and quite probably people directing it who are both sadistic and sociopathic because at the end of the day there is no "nice" way of doing this successfully as hypnosis alone has it's limits though would be part of the battery of techniques used.

At the end of the day humans are pretty much biological computers, which is why the idea of AI has captured the imagination so much I believe, being able to create something that is able to think like a human and has self awareness greater than an animal, yet is entirely artificial rather than a product of biology. As we learn more about how easily controlled and understood we ourselves are it becomes increasingly easy to envision creating this artificially.

Now, I won't go into questions of the soul and so forth (I myself am Christian although not a deeply spiritual one) which is usually where this entire thing goes when you start apply hard core rationality to the human condition. Right now though the nature of humanity and how it can be mentally controlled and programmed isn't so much a philosophical question as much as a matter of fact as it can be demonstrated. Indeed there are entertainers who go around making a career out of showing off what can be done with hypnosis.

Sardonac:
The title is a little misleading. Computers can, in principle, operate randomly. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that humans also have this feature, or at least something akin to in-principle impredictability. The more interesting question, I think, is how humans and machines compute differently at a fundamental level. Machines operate mechanistically - on syntax and syntactical relations - whereas humans appeal to semantic constraints to guide their actions. The hard question: what is the relationship between syntax and semantics? It's hard to make sense of both without a view to what consciousness is, as well as what we think makes up the fundamental elements of the world. Neat stuff!

actually computers are not capable of acting randomly in the true sense. Any random number generation has to have a seed that, if discovered along with the programming of the computer you can predict exactly what will happen to "random" programing from computers. You see it in many places but in terms of video games it is seen mostly in speed runs as RNG manipulation to get a desired outcome from a supposedly random program.

Lightknight:
I see this topic as identical to the question of free will. The thing is that the pieces that make up our programming (genetics vs environment) are so incredibly randomized as to make up the equivalent of non-forced behavior. To predict our behavior you would not only have to entirely understand our DNA and thought process but you'd have to know all of our environment.

I don't see the question as "can we predict what a person will do exactly?" but more "Could you theoretically predict what a person would do if you had an unlimited amount of processing power and knowledge?" the distinction being one theory not practicality, because if the later is true then free will isn't real and we truly are living in a deterministic world with no choice. And just because we can't know what that determined future and choices are exactly doesn't mean that they don't exist because we don't have powerful enough processors to predict it.

Luthor55555:

actually computers are not capable of acting randomly in the true sense. Any random number generation has to have a seed that, if discovered along with the programming of the computer you can predict exactly what will happen to "random" programing from computers. You see it in many places but in terms of video games it is seen mostly in speed runs as RNG manipulation to get a desired outcome from a supposedly random program.

Significant evidence suggests that quantum computers can produce sequences of data that are unpredictable.

Luthor55555:

actually computers are not capable of acting randomly in the true sense. Any random number generation has to have a seed that, if discovered along with the programming of the computer you can predict exactly what will happen to "random" programing from computers. You see it in many places but in terms of video games it is seen mostly in speed runs as RNG manipulation to get a desired outcome from a supposedly random program.

While technically true in the sense that most computer programs use psuedo-random algorithms to generate random numbers from a seed (usually the current time in milliseconds so it's different every time), there are plenty of ways for a computer to use a truly random number. These range from hooking the machine up to a decaying isotope to reading the random thermal noise on the cpu. Most of the time we just don't bother, because pseudo random is "good enough".

As for video itself, there's no real reason a computer can't take "ought" into account. The health pack example is actually pretty trivial: let's say we have an AI agent. It's primary goal is to complete the game and in order to achieve this, it will have a number of secondary goals (kill enemies, avoid dying, maximise firepower, etc). A second player is more likely to aid the AI in it's primary goal, therefore keeping the second player alive takes priority in over the selfish desire for the health pack. There's a whole other discussion around how this might be the reason we evolved altruism.

The far more interesting question is that of free will. Classical Newtonian physics basically states that everything is deterministic and even the human brain is basically just an insanely complex series of chemical and electrical interactions that are ultimately governed by physics. You picked coke instead of pepsi because a certain neuron fired at the right time, which itself was caused by hormone levels caused by what you ate caused by the world around you and so on until the beginning of time. In theory, if you had an infinitely powerful computer with perfect knowledge of the world, you could speed up the simulation and everything would play identically every time. Free will is an illusion and you were always going to make the same choices because of the state your brain was in at the time.

But quantum physics throws a spanner in the works. We know that the universe is not perfectly deterministic. Truly random events can happen, even within our brains. Faced with a close choice, we weigh up and evaluate our options, but there's still the possibility of a random event in your brain causing you to go left instead of right and this can never be simulated. This is as close as we get to "free will".

Obviously, I'm not including the concept of the supernatural "soul" or "mind". While we haven't ruled it out, so far there is almost no evidence for it, so I'm sticking to a naturalistic explanation.

Hoplon:

Kenjitsuka:
IBM's Watson is an amazing AI tool.
And for that second part: just a matter of time before it's fully possible to have enough computing power to slam it inside a Terminator's brainpan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10567942/Supercomputer-models-one-second-of-human-brain-activity.html

Wow, one second of 1% of a human brain only took 40 mins to run. what's that? 1/2400 of the speed of human brain? AI is just around the corner! it's only got to scale up some 24000 times to get there!

So... roughly 11 process generations, or 22 years from this point, assuming no refinement of the software and system composition in the interim. Cool.

OT: the human mind is substantially more error-prone than the transistors that drive modern computers. (Quantum computers operate on completely different principles than conventional computers, and require substantially different programming models, so it is not worthwhile to consider them as the same kind of machine.) The high error rate for neurons in making a decision means that the human mind must operate by consensus, rather than by logically consistent calculation. With enough information, and enough time to process that information, it should be possible to predict a human mind's actions in a deterministic manner. "Enough", however, is a huge amount, and may include things like the precise form background thermal noise will take on, the full life experience of the mind in question (or as much as is would affect the mind), the initial states of all however many billion neurons... Gathering that much information would take more time than the human mind would to act.

Luthor55555:

actually computers are not capable of acting randomly in the true sense. Any random number generation has to have a seed that, if discovered along with the programming of the computer you can predict exactly what will happen to "random" programing from computers. You see it in many places but in terms of video games it is seen mostly in speed runs as RNG manipulation to get a desired outcome from a supposedly random program.

It is possible (necessary for a cryptographically secure algorithm) for software to access a hardware random number generator to provide that seed, or indeed, to provide all its random numbers. The hardware rng samples some environmental state (thermal noise, leak current, some other apparently random value) and converts it to bits. It is usually only used to seed, as it can't produce random bits nearly as quickly as a PRNG algorithm can. Since games have no need to be cryptographically secure, and must be fast, care is not usually taken to provide true randomness. (Even the hardware rng can be partially influenced by the state of nearby transistors, so it may not always provide the same amount of randomness)

On free will: discovering that humans do not have meaningful free will would invalidate the concept of responsibility, but not the actions we prescribe as means of taking responsibility. The concept of responsibility would be replaced by the concept of maintenance on a malfunctioning machine.

Huh, well he actually seems fairly reasonable in his hypothesis, I've been used to this series presenting philosophers whose works don't pass a basic bullshit test.

dethyodel:
snip

True, but why not go even further?
What if certain hardware elements could detect sub-atomic particles passing through specific spots?
In addition to currently used methods of generating random numbers, such method could introduce even more random outcomes.
Since, for example, neutrino passing through specific spot would be absolutely unpredictable.
When hardware detects neutrino passing by, it changes seed a bit
Combine several subatomic particle detectors that register different particles each and that would be as close to randomness as possible.

Luthor55555:

Lightknight:
I see this topic as identical to the question of free will. The thing is that the pieces that make up our programming (genetics vs environment) are so incredibly randomized as to make up the equivalent of non-forced behavior. To predict our behavior you would not only have to entirely understand our DNA and thought process but you'd have to know all of our environment.

I don't see the question as "can we predict what a person will do exactly?" but more "Could you theoretically predict what a person would do if you had an unlimited amount of processing power and knowledge?" the distinction being one theory not practicality, because if the later is true then free will isn't real and we truly are living in a deterministic world with no choice. And just because we can't know what that determined future and choices are exactly doesn't mean that they don't exist because we don't have powerful enough processors to predict it.

Not really. Your positing the same logic that would assume that if someone knows the future then free will doesn't exist.

The truth of the matter is that we will make choices and that choice can only be one and not the others (even if you choose to do option 1 (replace the roof) and 2 (renovate the bathroom), your choice would actually be something like option 3 which is the combination of those two).

So given that constraint, that we can only make one choice and that after having done so that choice will always have been going to happen, you can somewhat claim determinism but not necessarily an absence of free will.

Influence does not diminish free will.

Being designed specifically to behave in a certain way does.

Big difference between the two. Yes, ultimately every single part of us is caused by something else. That's true. But it is sufficiently randomized enough to never be the design of another person so much as a result of our starting part in the universe and so is wholly our story. That we are the composition of our nature and nurture components is not as sinister as saying that someone created us specifically to have those two components. Every step has been randomized all the way back to which sperm won the race.

Therumancer:
Incorrect actually, as much as people hate it sociology is the science of predicting group behavior and it's wielded with devastating effectiveness. Advertising is an example of sociology in action.

Sociology is statistical analysis. It is not equivalent to knowing that if you enter 1+1 in a computer that it will tell you "2" is the answer. There is a tremendous difference between predicting the response and KNOWING what the response will be. We have so many different factors from everything we've seen to our hormone levels for the day playing a role in our decisions. We are like computers in that we are the sum of our parts but we are not like computers in that our software alters itself constantly and in ways that aren't entirely within its control. Putting billions of other humans on the planet all with the extreme level of complexity and their interactions dynamically change the formula. One conversation can change everything. The same conversation at a different moment can change nothing.

One human "failing" is our refusal to understand ourselves, and want to see each individual as a unique and special snowflake that is different from all others and thus should be handled on an individual level. In reality your a lot like tons of other people, which is the basis for sociology, and where stereotypes come from, stereotypes being very true in fact for the most part, it's just that most people misunderstand them and think it's something like a "cookie cutter" as opposed to a set of shared traits the majority of which will be held by people within the stereotype. People can belong to more than one of them, and in general by trying to deviate you automatically enter into others. Everyone is by definition stereotypical even if they do not recognize the stereotype which they belong to. Being so predictable is terrifying to people which is why there is so much opposition to things like the government wielding sociology for things like profiling, yet in reality we're pretty much hurting ourselves due to denial of our fundamental nature.

Sure, we're a lot like other people. Predictability is not inherent know-ability. Being able to predict the normal human response is only accurate up to a certain percentage and even that is highly relative to the activity being performed and the region it is being performed in. A computer, unless it's something like a quantum computer set up to generate true randomness, will always give you the same answer every time. 100%.

What's more is we also don't really know that we don't operate like a quantum computer on some level. It's possible and that would really add to complexity if so. That would be interesting.

Kenjitsuka:

Hoplon:

Is almost certainly why so far there are no real software AI's. it may not be possible to run a simulation of something complex enough to thought of as intelligent.

IBM's Watson is an amazing AI tool.
And for that second part: just a matter of time before it's fully possible to have enough computing power to slam it inside a Terminator's brainpan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10567942/Supercomputer-models-one-second-of-human-brain-activity.html

This is a great point, and to expand on it, even non AI programs can (and frequently do) include what is essentially an implementation of 'ought' though admittedly the 'decisions' made are not being performed by choice, but human choice is also debated.

In well designed programs actions are evaluated against various settings and parameters for that action and the pathway is 'decided' upon based on the states of these. Really most AI is just an extremely complex version of this sort of validation/routing. There are many other ways that this concept is frequently utilized including pretty much anything labeled a 'Protocol' (like http (web) & smtp (email) these protocols are formally declared rules that like protocols for humans, don't force/dictate actions but inform the actor on what they should be, and the actor can 'choose' to deviate as they want, and like with humans deviations from stated protocol often result in conflicts.

And it can be argued that the decisions are ultimately made by the human(s) writing the software, but to be totally honest, programming is, for the most part, just deciding which sets of rules to include and connecting the dots with the necessary actions and states for the program. The actual decisions are mostly performed at run time (when program is running / well after programming) when all of the conditions are being evaluated and without human interaction.

I'd like to argue with someone, but everybody here seems to agree on the deterministic nature of the human brain.

So instead, here's an interesting aspect: There is no "present". There is no privileged "now" - the past and the future are different values on the timeline, both are equally real, and there is no internal clock tracking what time it is currently. The perception of continuity is thus an illusion, governed by deterministic mechanics. What we perceive as consciousness is a biochemical state of our brains at each frame of time, but the moment of our birth, the moment of our death, and the moment you're reading this post are equal points.

Physics does support this - time is relative after all, and according to special relativity, there should be no privileged "now" time, and the order in which things happen is subjective.

It's called Eternalism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternalism_(philosophy_of_time)

will is not free. you can be preprogramed to refuse healthcare (for example those nutters who raise kids to believe healthcare is satan). Any free will is an illusion that we create when we cannot explain the cause.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here