The Impossibility of Artificial Intelligence

My friend and colleague Dr. Richard Cocks has written an article, well worth reading, on the impossibility, as he sees it, that cybernetic devices will ever attain consciousness.  The article can be accessed at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website.

17 thoughts on “The Impossibility of Artificial Intelligence

  1. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article:

    “We don’t know where creativity comes from. But you can see that if, with reference to the computer scientists earlier, we had an equation for creativity, it would not be creativity anymore. It would be literally formulaic. We would have explained creativity away. But creativity must exist because it is not possible to live in the world successfully without the ability to respond to the unforeseen and non-rule-governed.

    “We may be of one substance with the Father. Thus we partake of some of His characteristics. But computers are not of one substance with US, their creators. Computers have only a derived, borrowed intelligence. We are born with life and, through living processes that we don’t understand and don’t control, we give birth to new human life. Our intelligence isn’t derived. Consciousness is one with the Source. However, computer pseudo-intelligence is only apparent and even the appearance is parasitic on our own intelligence. In that sense, we are infertile mules. We share in the Logos, but since we are not the Godhead, we can’t create life and pass it on. We are sterile in that regard.”

    • Fun quotes.

      What if we are not conscious? What if we are just running programs in our heads, like organic robots, and our illusions of agency, creativity, and transcendence result from the time it takes our programming to run plus ignorance during our programmed routines? Then we might be able to make another such being, perhaps without even understanding our own being first. Perhaps we are even programmed to do such a thing.

      God’s is the only escape from this prison.

      • This paper deals rather seriously with the question of whether we are actually living in a computer simulation, coming down (if I read it right) on the side of: yes, it is immensely probable. To me, it just shows the absurd lengths that materialism can take you if you follow it long and hard enough.

      • That link doesn’t seem to have taken… Trying again: Are You Living in a Simulation. If there were a species advanced enough to actually simulate us, I’d bet: a) they wouldn’t bother; and b) they’d get a good chuckle out of some of our papers.

      • Heckuva lot cheaper than building AIs…

        We’ve given language (and apparently syntax) to a select group of higher primates and some dolphins, which is, I think, a more tangential way in which we’ve proven to be creatures made in the image of the Creator.

      • Do you really think sexual reproduction is a good image of the creativity of God? I don’t.

        Artistic creation is the canonical way in which man, god’s creation, mirrors god’s creativity. The artist’s ability to capture life-like images used to be considered the highest form of art; Someday AI will be wrested away by artists from engineers (it’s already starting to happen).

      • Someday AI will be wrested away by artists from engineers

        Only a non-engineer would think like there is some sort of hard distinction between the two. But, yes, no doubt non-engineers will be able to create beautiful pictures of AIs. Reminds me of the Star Trek: TNG where, in one of the most laughable writing gaffes in the series, Counselor Troi defeats the android Data in chess. She chalks it up to “intuition”. Yeah, that’ll work.

      • “If God created man in his own image, then man should be capable of creating in his own image.”

        This does not logically follow.

  2. Although I agree with the thesis that Artificial Intelligence will never be possible, i.e., I am convinced submarines cannot swim, it is unclear that the (author’s admitted) paraphrase “I haven’t found the right equation yet” (i.e., for learning from experience) takes the AI credulists seriously enough: Adaptation is an algorithm, not an equation. Simple enough algorithms converge on optima (or if extra really simple, an optimum, singular) that can be predicted by an equation.

    However, I doubt anyone in the AI community is so facile as to believe that convergence of hyper-sophisticated algorithms that might be capable of “learning” across a broad array of inputs would ever boil down to an equation (or two or fifty).

    Instead, AI credulists believe (and that is the right word for it) that human consciousness may be modeled in some sufficiently atomic way–that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter, and therefore that, if we can just model the matter (neurons and their networks), the inputs, and the feedbacks accurately enough, we’ll get consciousness.

    Because, I am convinced that consciousness is not merely an epiphenomenon of matter, and moreover that this is not at all a scientific question, I think the best, to continue the metaphor, that we could get from AI is a really fast and efficient submarine, which may emulate swimming quite well… but it still won’t be able to swim.

  3. The AI prediction is like the laboratory abiogenesis prediction. Every few years someone confidently predicts that it is about to see fruition, but it never sees fruition.

    The most serious thinker who ever lived and wrote, wrote that procreation is one of the mortal forms of immortal creation. The same thinker coined the phrase, “logos spermatikos” to account for the fecundation in the artistic and philosophical experiences, whether as creator or receptor.


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