Monday, October 5, 2015

a transhumanist joke about graphene

I hope it was just a joke --

Cyberenthusiast: "Why are you so worried about computers just killing off humans and taking over the earth? After all, humans killed off their earlier competitors. Isn't it just part of natural progress and evolution for more intelligent and conscious systems to replace earlier models? You are nothing but an irrational racist -- a human-race-ist."

Guy like me:"Hey, I agree that I have a kind of prerational predisposition here. The universe itself does not really care, but **I** care because **I* am a carbon-based life form, and it is a basic part of MY inborn program that Icare about the fate of other carbon-based life forms."

Cyberenthusiast: "Oh, is that it? Cheer up. Graphene is also carbon based,
and it works faster than silicon anyway, so we can just replace humans with AI based on graphene."

It was actually said.... and there are many, many cyberenthusiasts like that out there. 

Both silicon and graphene have the advantage of being made from materials plentiful on earth and on other planets, silicon and carbon -- and maybe graphene can even do critical things without so many rare additives. 

For myself, the motivational circuits in my brain really involve
humans (more) and other living creatures, no carbon as such. But I have actually wondered what characteristics of a system made of atoms make it more or less susceptible to having a real "soul," which I view as something essentially tangible if hard for most of us to see, living in symbiosis with the other side of us.  Kurzweil has talked about "spiritual machines" -- but is it possible to make those words real, and if so how?

I still don't claim to know the answer to that question (nor do I think anyone else on earth really knows either), but I will not bore you with the details of my ruminations here and now. (One quick note: Orson Scott Card, in his Song of Earth series, expresses important thoughts about that... but as you know, folks like Brin would want to exclude Card from discussion as much as the new right wants to outlaw birth control. I don't believe that studying the Song of Earth would cause any rational person to oppose birth control -- quite the opposite, but there are lots of ideologies out there which seem to be schizophrenic.)

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