Discoveroids: Artificial Intelligence Is Impossible

The Discovery Institute apparently doesn’t have enough to worry about. They’re always making “scientific” predictions, then they have to retreat when reality proves them wrong, and all the while they insist on the existence of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who created the universe, life, and you.

Some examples of their back-tracking are their claims about the impossibility of life on other planets, later revised to the impossibility of intelligent life on other planets. They went from no alien life — see Casey: There’s No Alien Life Out There — to hedging that there may be alien life after all, created by their magic designer — see Klinghoffer Flip-Flops on Alien Life.

Regarding life itself, they first declared the impossibility of creating life in the lab. They continue to insist that it’s the miraculous work of their designer, but even if we eventually do create life in the lab, there’s no problem, because that too would prove that intelligent design is necessary — see All Things Done in the Lab Are Proof of Design. Meanwhile, they’re still sticking with their prediction that junk DNA doesn’t exist. Eventually they’ll have to cave on that too.

Today they’re making another prediction that will eventually require a retreat. This just popped up at their creationist blog: “Fully Realized” AI Will Remain Forever on the Horizon – And That’s a Good Thing, written by Klinghoffer.

Prepare yourself, dear reader. Klinghoffer will now use his formidable intellect to discuss artificial intelligence. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Overestimating the contribution of computers, failing to reckon with their spiritual costs [Huh?], welcoming them deeper and deeper into our lives rather than seeking ways to limit them – these all go hand in hand with over-the-top expectations about the coming of “full” or “fully realized” Artificial Intelligence.

What in the world is going on here? You’ll see. Klinghoffer says:

I’m convinced there will be a serious backlash against the pervasiveness of screens, and equally convinced that the AI bubble will burst.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! A bold prediction! Let’s read on:

Our novelist friend Bruce Buff has an excellent op-ed at Fox News on the bright side of this inevitability (“Artificial Intelligence will lead to the human soul, not destroy it”).

Klinghoffer describes Buff as a friend of the Discoveroids. That suggests he’s a hard-core creationist, and his article at Fox certainly confirms that. Klinghoffer quotes part of it:

Deep down, we all know we’re more than biological robots. That’s why almost everyone rebels against materialism’s implications. We don’t act as though we believe everything is ultimately meaningless.

We’re spiritual creatures, here by intent, living in a world where the supernatural is the norm; each and every moment of our lives is our souls in action. Immaterial ideas shape the material world and give it true meaning, not the other way around. In the end, the greatest threat that humans’ face is a failure to recognize what we really are.

What does this raving have to do with computers and artificial intelligence? Klinghoffer tells us:

The failure of technology to deliver on a widespread expectation, argues Buff, may in the end liberate us from the materialist illusion.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Free at last, free at last! One last excerpt from Klinghoffer:

Perhaps so. May it be so. Unless resistance to the spiritual understanding of the self is more than a mere intellectual misunderstanding.

That’s it, dear reader. Can you figure it out?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Discoveroids: Artificial Intelligence Is Impossible

  1. So Klinger thinks materialists are “the evil one”.
    Great conclusion to an article on artificial intelligence being impossible because magic.

  2. Michael Fugate

    So if humans can’t create computers with consciousness, then we will be disappointed and turn to religion? What and pray to the gods for computers with consciousness? Where we will likely be disappointed and then turn to what next?

  3. Once again, the creationists give us a reason not to look to design for the existence of some aspect of life. Whether or not the reason is plausible.

  4. Ross Cameron

    I see British scientists are growing mini brains in the laboratory. Next step, transplants into creationists.

  5. “Can you figure it out?”
    Yes. It’s simple.
    God endows humans with souls (at conception or some days later).
    Humans are not capable of endowing machines with souls. Hence AI will never be fully realized.

    Of course this undermines the beloved Paley’s False Watchmaker Argument, but when was the last time we could catch Klinkleclapper being consistent?!

  6. SC – The end of your first paragraph needs work. (“with with”)

    Nonetheless, excellent post highlighting the absurdity of the Discoveroids’ position.

  7. Once again, creationists appeal to things “we all know” instinctively, “deep down”. This, for them, trumps the scientific process. Unfortunately, such an approach also privileges every pre-scientific superstition and folk myth over science.

  8. I share some of the creationists’ concern. I know that there are algorithms at work, manipulating what I get to see, and those who can learn to make those algorithms work for them thereby acquire greater power of persuasion than the barons of the old mainstream media could even dream of.

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    Aw, poor Klinghoffer sounds like a lost puppy. Possibly he’s just lonely and needs a friend to cheer him up. Fortunately modern science has already toggled into existence just what he needs. So Klingy, just go to your favorite internet purveyor of solipsistic paraphernalia, and order up a little gizmo called a “Fit Bit” for your own self. That little dynamo of technology will keep track of your every step, and at intervals will buzz you to pat you on the back for all your brave foraging into areas of wisdom which no mere human should ever expect to see. Or Klingy, maybe you might just need to take a couple of aspirins, and take a good nap. When you wake up, you won’t feel quite so lonely. Promise.

  10. That’s a genuine concern, PaulB, and one that I share, but as far as I can see it’s not part of the creacrap concern. Klinkleclapper doesn’t mention it.

    Btw the infamous “Deep down we all know …” quote is not from Klinkleclapper or Buff, as our dear SC mistakenly suggests, but from philosopher Thomas Nagle (sic!), which, when spelled correctly, is the name of an atheist philosopher.

  11. retiredsciguy says: “SC – The end of your first paragraph needs work.”

    Indeed. This one was difficult to write, so I had to keep revising it — not enough, apparently. It’s fixed now.

  12. Regarding Klinghoffer, “we are spiritual creatures” and “spiritual understanding”: One can determine the context of “spiritual” by going back to the etymology and see that it was a misunderstanding of the very physical act of breathing and the ancient befuddlement over something like the wind. ( from Latin “spirare” to ‘breathe’) The ancient misconception that air and breathing were evidence of the divine and the divine in humans becomes laughable when viewed in a modern context.

  13. Mike McCants

    From Bruce Buff’s recent nonsense at Fox News:

    “Physical matter alone is not capable of producing whole, subjective experiences, such as …, and the mechanisms proposed to address the known shortfalls of matter vs. mind, such as emergent properties, are inadequate and falsifiable. Therefore, it is highly probable that we have immaterial minds.”

    A “probable” conclusion based on negative assertions!

  14. Of course, the Discoveroids would not believe in artificial intelligence, they don’t even believe in natural intelligence. They believe everything comes from their god, which means all we are is their god’s mental masturbations.

  15. “The failure of technology to deliver on a widespread expectation…”
    WTF? Who’s expectation? In what time frame? I own a couple of my parent’s kitchen utensils that pre-date the transistor. Technology has barely started to address questions of AI.

    I’m always amused at this particular variant of the argument from ignorance. Talk about hubris and lack of perspective. A lot like someone in the twenties pontificating on the failure of aircraft to achieve supersonic flight.

  16. Mark Germano

    “The failure of technology to deliver on a widespread expectation…”

    He could just as easily be talking about those jet packs we were promised.

  17. docbill1351

    And anti-gravity belts!

  18. Whenever there is any argument that “evolution” cannot explain such-and-such – indeed that materialism, physicalism, natural causes, etc. – it is worth the time to inquire whether there is an alternative explanation.
    Is there any spiritual explanation for any natural phenomenon which does not reference laws of nature? How is it that there is any way that there is a spiritual influence on the non-spiritual? To say that the spiritual is not limited by natural laws seems to tell us that we do not have any such explanation.

    BTW, of course there are some things which have no evolutionary explanation: the periodic table of the elements is an example.

  19. ISTM that it is “common sense” that humans are physically related to other living things:
    We are able to eat and be eaten by others. We are subject to some of the same diseases – germs, parasites; hunger, thirst, trauma.
    We understand, and are understood by, and interact with, our pets, prey, and predators.
    We can imagine animals as if they were humans, as in fables and cartoons, and in our metaphors and anthropomorphisms.
    All of that and more is on the level of “common sense”. It doesn’t rise to the level of science.

  20. “of course there are some things which have no evolutionary explanation: the periodic table of the elements is an example.”
    To say this is to misunderstand the creationist position. “There is no evolutionary explanation for X”, to a typical creationist, means, “There can be no rational, evidence-based explanation for X.”

  21. I do not say that any creationist complains about not explaining the periodic table. It is true that some creationists complain that evolution does not explain “the soul” (there is disagreement among supporters of evolution), “the origin of life”, “the origin of the universe” – but to bring up those would be to chase a red herring.
    I doubt that many anti-evolutionists claim that there can be no rational, evidence-based explanation for “species”, “the eye”, “Homo sapiens”. It is true that there is no explanation for such things which does not make mention of common descent with modification.

  22. The creationist argument that AI has failed to be “fully realized” yet and therefore definitely never will be reminds me of the assertion, made by eminent scientists including Albert Einstein as late as the 1930s that nuclear energy would never be harnessed on Earth because producing it under terrestrial conditions always took more energy than was released.

    I suppose that if even top-ranked genuine scientists can be spectacularly wrong about what is and isn’t possible, creationist quacks can’t be expected to make accurate predictions of that sort.

  23. @Eric Lipps
    One of the problems with this sort of argument for design::
    The premise of the argument is that design – the only sort of design that we have any experience of, the only sort of design that we can imagine, does not produce such-and-such. And the conclusion of the argument is that therefore such-and-such must be the result of design.

  24. Kevin MURPHY

    If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Arthur C. Clarke
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/arthurccl100793.html

    Very old quote. Gotta like Arthur.

  25. Kevin MURPHY says: “Very old quote. Gotta like Arthur.”

    Indeed. It was the subject of this blog’s very first post: Clarke’s First Law and Intelligent Design.