How to Create a Mind, The Light of Amsterdam, Because I Said So!

December 8, 2012

If you met a non-biological intelligent entity, one that demonstrated convincingly human-like emotional responses (it could laugh and cry, tell a joke, and argue), would you accept it as a conscious being, more or less equivalent to a person? Ray Kurzweil says he would, and much of his latest book focuses on trying to persuade readers to abandon long-held beliefs about the unique value of the human mind (or soul, though that doesn’t come up much).

“Biological substrates are wonderful — they have gotten us very far,” Kurzweil writes, “but we are creating a more capable and durable substrate for very good reasons.” There are good reasons to create tools that expand our capacity to solve problems, but anyone concerned about the potential social, political, and philosophical problems raised by artificial intelligence will feel less than reassured by this book. […]