AI, Ethics and Algos at Gluecon 2018

Great discussion at Gluecon this week in Colorado! Eric and Kim Norlin have created a great gathering of the minds that helps deeply technical people to come together and discover what’s happening in their industry. This year’s highlights for me were Adrian Cockcraft’s talk about “Chaos Architecture”, in which he unpacked how to build resilient systems, with examples of architectural design for AWS and Netflix and Lisa Kamm & Max Whitney talking about varieties of software devleopment lifecycles and finally Kris Nova of Heptio talking about containers, stateless engines and Kubernetes. I led a breakout session entitled “Ethics and AI: Thinking about the Implications of Algorithmic Design within Semi-Autonomous...

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Recent Research: Symbolic Machines

The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks inside a cranium; silicon-based processors...

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A Cyborg Eschatology: A.N. Whitehead and Post-Humanism (COMPLETE)

Cyborg Eschatology: A Process Perspective on Post-Organic Embodiment i. Environment and Actuality In Western thought, one person’s ego is often considered primary: the individual “I” is the focus of many historical Western Christian conceptions of salvation and sin. In contrast, Eastern philosophy has often emphasized a “flux” of existences which co-exist in community. As Christian influence has waned in Western philosophy, contemporary cultural thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida have spoken out of a so-called post-modern and post-sacred ethos. Yet despite the “death of God” drama, within Heidegger’s Dasein or Derrida’s “speaking subject” the Western conception of the individual’s being in the world as a matter of ultimate focus has nearly always been retained....

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part V)

vi. Evolution & Transcendence Whitehead does not write directly of the possibility of God’s relationship with beings that human beings substantially create, but he does write of the difference in God’s creative relationship with every actuality. From this discussion, Whitehead describes God’s operations within and upon the metaphysical universe as the ongoing act of “enabling finite beings themselves by their own activity to transcend themselves.” In fact, it seems clear that the spiritual soul may in fact, arise out of such divine operations. The material reality of our environment becomes another novel ingredient in God’s satisfaction relative to the creation of a new entity. The manner in which a cybernetic soul may connect with its own ultimate...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part IV)

iv. Machine Organization and Actualization The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks...

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Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part III)

iii. Self-Realizing Material As any programmer who studies philosophy immediately notes, current software programming models act out to some degree the ideas of Plato and Thomas Aquinas. In the programming world, the pervasive emphasis on Object-oriented programming has given rise to the somewhat common analogy that “Platonic forms are classes and instances are [software] objects.” Given this fundamental understanding of their work as the ‘instantiation’ of an overarching class or Form, programmers thus work to define hierarchies of symbolic content within their coding structures, such that Forms/Classes ‘inform’ and create dynamic ‘Instances’ or Expressions of the individual Forms and Classes. Furthermore, “Patterns, abstract data types, and the like can...

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