Sentient robots soon? Nay says this man.

Andy44

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I found this guy's two videos at random and am intrigued by it. As Orbinauts we tend to be on the optimistic side of futuristic thinking. I grew up in an age and a place where we were promised routine spaceflight, fusion power, robots and maybe even some kind of flying car, all coming "someday soon".

Well, of course, for anyone over age 30, we know better now. Instead of all the cool stuff we thought we'd get we've had to settle for an internet and some smartphones, which are pretty lame compared to a fusion reactor or a trip to the outer planets.

This guy makes the case for not anticipating self-aware robots anytime soon. I found this very thought-provoking.


 

boogabooga

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The internet is nothing to "settle for."

No other generation in human history could have imagined the amount of information available within 3 seconds from a search query. It is probably the most amazing human invention, ever.

Why are you always so cynical? :rolleyes:
 

Andy44

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The internet is nothing to "settle for."

No other generation in human history could have imagined the amount of information available within 3 seconds from a search query. It is probably the most amazing human invention, ever.

Why are you always so cynical? :rolleyes:

I'm not cynical. I just want a fusion reactor. Is that so much to ask for?
 

cymrych

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It's interesting, the first 3 parts of the video series come across very much as a lament for the naivety and idealism of the mid-20th century scientists regarding AI. I wouldn't call it cynical to look at the internet or smartphones and say to yourself "Really? Is this all?" I would call it cynicism towards film makers and SF writers who continuously dangle things like AI and cold fusion reactors and antigravity fields in front of us like carrots, though, as if they were right around the corner.

It's pretty easy to forgive those mid-20th century scientists their idealism. They were the sons and daughters of people whose primary means of day-to-day transportation was either their own feet or a horse drawn wagon, or if they were lucky and in a sizeable town, a trolley. The generation of 50s scientists, born between WWI and WWII, saw HUGE, sweeping changes to how people lived, moved, worked, fought against, and communicated with each other in all facets of society, and those changes were brought about by equally huge advances in the sciences and technology. Given what was accomplished in the 50 years between 1900 and 1950, is it any wonder they had such lofty aspirations and expectations for the next 50 years?

I can understand Andy44 looking at the latest iteration of the iPhone or Android, and wondering if this communication explosion is all our generation will have to show for itself. That's not to say the internet isn't a marvelous, monumental achievement for the human race; it most certainly is. It's more of a disillusioned realization that revolutionary advances in those earlier technologies seem to have either fizzled out, or become completely mired in bureaucratic red tape.

But dang it! We're past the date in Back to the Future part II, and I want my hoverboard! At least give me a flying DeLorean that runs on rotten banana peels and coffee grounds, come on!
 

Will

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As far as I can tell, those videos don't give any reasons why these technologies can't exist in the future beyond the fact that people were saying we'd have them a lot sooner. There's no reason why humans couldn't make a computer which mimics the human brain, it's just a matter of understanding how that particular system of interacting particles behaves. It may take a monumental amount of time but in principle I don't see why it can't happen.

With regards to the final part of the two videos, frankly that shows a lack of understanding of the topics involved. The Kardashev scale only ranks civilizations by their energy consumption. Nothing else. It makes no mention of how it gathers this energy (except purely for comparative reasons, e.g. an energy consumption comparable to the luminosity of our Sun). And, given the available data, a civilization's energy consumption seems likely to keep on increasing the more advanced it becomes. Of course we can't KNOW this, absolutely certainly, but what science (though I'm loath to call social 'science' a science) does is make predictions based on physical laws about what's going to happen. The Kardashev scale tries to do the same thing but with social trends rather than experimentally testable physical laws, but it's still our best prediction based on available data and nobody is claiming it's anything else. Of course nothing in science can claim to be a theory until it has been extensively tested be experiment. Testing the Kardashev scale could prove time consuming...

:2cents:
:hailprobe:

Aside: the point at the end about scientists being poor artists and so forth I also take issue with. Scientists (particularly of the theoretical physicist variety) are often very creative. This is useful to visualize both known phenomena and try to come up with new explanations which can then be tested. Some great physicists were/are also artists/writers (not just of science) etc e.g. Schrodinger, Feynman...OK that's all I can think of right now off the top of my head, but I'm tired OK!
 
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paddy2

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Sorry gents but most of these things could be could be had ... for a price ...

If someone had said lets go to the Moon, it will cost X amount and the cold war was not a factor ...... 100% NO

How different would things be had we keep up the pace of development of Apollo et al..

( By we I mean the USA taxpayer????)
 

Ghostrider

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Sorry gents but most of these things could be could be had ... for a price ...

I beg to differ: one cannot simply have an art-deco rocketship for any price.

You've got to earn it. You can only do that by braving the hard vacuum of space in a leather jacker, biker leather pants, boots and a bullet-shaped brass helmet, all the while manipulating analogue controls on a gilded panel mounted on your chest.

Getting your own art-deco rocketship is serious business.
 

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When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
 

Andy44

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And where's my jetpack? And my raygun? And my art-deco rocketship?

Right?

The guy is just being skeptical. If a "futurologist" tells you C3PO-type robots are only a generation away, he thinks you should take it with a grain of salt.

I think he underestimates the tendency of people to try and create the cool stuff we see in fiction, though. Many people are focusing their efforts on creating such a thing as a human-like robot, so it might happen someday after all.

As for throwing money at stuff; sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's actually counter-productive, IMO, depending on who is doing the money-throwing.
 

jedidia

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The doubt that sentient robots are possible with current processor architecture is nothing new. Roger Penrose wrote a whole book about it already in 89.

I also think it's kind of ridiculous to think we could simulate the human brain without knowing beforehand how the human brain works exactly. Neurology has had a lot of progress during the last decades, but we're still kind of in the dark about the actual mechanics of thought processes, and the kind of storage methods employed. All we know is the overall architecture and the basic mechanics of the hardware.

That said, I'm not really sad about this. I have a wife and kids, and that's quite enough sentience in my life, thank you. I usually use my computer to get a break from all the sentience around me! :p

Also, sentient robots would pretty much kill manned spaceflight for good...
 

T.Neo

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I just want a fusion reactor. Is that so much to ask for?

I think we really need to look at various attributes of fusion research projects over time- plasma density, neutron flux, fusion gain, and a variety of other factors. The lack of a breakeven reactor for the last several decades and statements like "20 years away for the last 50 years" make it easy to view fusion research as ineffectual, but I suspect that if one plotted things over time it would show a trend of advancement.
 

kamaz

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I can understand Andy44 looking at the latest iteration of the iPhone or Android, and wondering if this communication explosion is all our generation will have to show for itself. That's not to say the internet isn't a marvelous, monumental achievement for the human race; it most certainly is. It's more of a disillusioned realization that revolutionary advances in those earlier technologies seem to have either fizzled out, or become completely mired in bureaucratic red tape.

Strauss-Howe generational theory. Humanity moves in 80-year cycles. It appears that the current cycle is about 90 years, probably due to life extension. (The switch should have happened ca. 1995, instead it appears that the critical date was Sep. 11, 2001). Anyway, the next rapid jump ahead should start between 2020-2030 and last until 2050-2060:

 

fsci123

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Fusion reactor research is like the modern day version of alchemy. Often many people, including some prominent scientists, believe that nuclear fusion is going to provide limitless energy and create a world free of all pollution. I think the sort of bitterness that comes from older scifi enthusiasts is the result of the overestimation of unproven technologies.
 
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