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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Steven Kaas: on 6/7/14 at 3:32am UTC, wrote We agree that future technologies which will affect our ability to steer...

Peter Jackson: on 6/3/14 at 14:10pm UTC, wrote Jack, I didn't find your 'leap' that hard to make. Everything is a 2 way...

Jack Peggs: on 5/20/14 at 2:55am UTC, wrote I wish I had taken more time in developing the logic for my essay. I...

James Hoover: on 5/20/14 at 2:15am UTC, wrote Jacks, I must say your essay doesn't lend sounds of legalize. I would...

Robert de Neufville: on 5/15/14 at 3:51am UTC, wrote One thing I've learned, Jack, is that most of what I write will never be...

Jack Peggs: on 5/15/14 at 3:29am UTC, wrote Thanks. I dislike admitting to it, but, you are correct. I think I became...

Robert de Neufville: on 5/15/14 at 2:09am UTC, wrote This is a lovely, poetic meditation on important issues, Jack. I agree with...

George Gantz: on 5/8/14 at 1:42am UTC, wrote Jack - A beautifully lyrical essay, thank you. I just got back from a trip...


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FQXi FORUM
October 17, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Prometheus Unbound : A Rational Approach to AI and the Future of Humanity by Jack Peggs [refresh]
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Author Jack Peggs wrote on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 12:37 GMT
Essay Abstract

The title reference is the lyrical drama by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1820) featuring Prometheus from Greek mythology. Prometheus is condemned to eternal damnation as a result of disobeying the gods by giving fire to humanity. In Shelly’s work, Prometheus manages to escape and to prevail in an ultimate triumph over the gods. The article describes the challenges facing the world of the twenty-first century within the context of similar challenges facing civilization immediately in advance of the industrial revolution. The article holds out the promise of artificial intelligence as the technological “game changer” for modernity’s challenges provided its implementation comports with humanistic values and an ethos based upon rational precepts.

Author Bio

Jack Peggs is in the private practice of law in Wichita, Kansas. He received his B.A. degree from Creighton University and his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law. He is a member of the Kansas and United States Supreme Court Bars. He served as Special Assistant to the State Attorney General and as Assistant District Attorney where he was Chief of the Appellate Section. He is the past chair of the Wichita Bar Association’s Medico-Legal Committee. He served as an adjunct professor at Wichita State University for the Department of health Administration and Education for several years.

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Anselm Smidt wrote on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 17:19 GMT
Um im Wettbewerb müssen wir uns weiterentwickeln.

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Denis Frith wrote on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 12:05 GMT
Artificial intelligence is intangible human mind activity. Our industrial civilization is a tangible array of cities, roads etc that use natural resources for their operation and maintenance. That is the unsustainable process that society should be trying to steer.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 17:18 GMT
Dear Professor Peggs,

Yours is by far the best essay about abstractions I have read in this exhilarating competition to date. I only have one little quibble that I hope you will not mind me mentioning.

As I have gone to enormous pains to point out in my essay, REALITY, ONCE, everything in the real Universe is unique, once.

Artificial intelligence cannot do unique. Artificial intelligence can only be programmed to be psychologically deterring. All of science is nothing more than a form of psychological deterrence.

I do wish there would be fewer mentions of the fact that there are about 7 billion people presently alive on earth. Nature obviously must know what it is doing surely, in allowing all of these wonderful unique people to live.

Regards,

Joe Fisher

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Member Rick Searle wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 18:24 GMT
Very nice essay, Jack.

I am currently working on an anthology of machine ethics. Any interest in submitting this as a potential chapter?

Rick Searle

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Author Jack Peggs replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 16:06 GMT
Absolutely. However, I started late to meet the deadline, and, after submitting it, I didn't feel like I adequately transitioned from premise to the description I gave of the "new ethos". Also in re-reading it, I'd like to make more time with it to make it flow somewhat easier.

I did look at some of your stuff too, and, I think you deserve a little better output from me. So, while I'm OK with your request, I'd like to improve my work before its used for "prime time".

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Member Rick Searle replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 02:33 GMT
Sure Jack,

The publication date isn't scheduled with IGI press until 2015, but we're hoping to have chapters ready by the late summer.

Here is my personal email:

rsearle.searle@gmail.com

Send me an email and I will send you the official call for chapters so you get an idea of what the book is about. If you're still interested you can give me a time frame for your updated version.

All the best,

Rick Searle

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Michael Allan wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 13:36 GMT
Hello Jack, May I offer a short, but sincere critique of your essay? I would ask you to return the favour. Here's my policy on that. - Mike

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James A Putnam wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 20:52 GMT
Dear Jack Peggs,

I don't understand why your essay is rated with a single '1'. It is better than many of the essays rising near the top that concern themselves with improving humanity for the sake of our future. I think your essay is well suited for this contest and is well written. I enjoyed it. I am rating it a '10' to push it up where others may take notice. Good luck to you in the contest.

James Putnam

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George Gantz wrote on May. 8, 2014 @ 01:42 GMT
Jack - A beautifully lyrical essay, thank you. I just got back from a trip to Rome and the references to roman virtues were particularly meaningful - the evidence of their industry and ingenuity some 2,000 years later is still quite visible and compelling.

I was left a little unsatisfied by the appeal to AI as a savior for humanity. If we have been so unable to control our own minds, I wonder why you think we will be able to control created minds. As you note - "It is no easy task to describe a moral imperative for a transcendent being."

At the same time, I think we need to be careful in how we evaluate the costs and benefits of religion - a set of human institutions that are structured around that very challenge - "a moral imperative for a transcendent being."

Best of luck! - George

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Robert de Neufville wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 02:09 GMT
This is a lovely, poetic meditation on important issues, Jack. I agree with you on the importance of science. I do think we will use our technology to enhance our intellectual abilities and that that may be a good thing. But in the end I wasn't sure what your essay added up to. Your dismissal of religion seemed to me too simple. And I'm not convinced that becoming more rational will necessarily make us more moral. For what it's worth, I always thought Keats was being ironic—that the poem showed that the lines on the urn were problematic. Good luck, in any case, in the contest!

Best,

Robert de Neufville

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Author Jack Peggs replied on May. 15, 2014 @ 03:29 GMT
Thanks. I dislike admitting to it, but, you are correct. I think I became much too immersed in creating the poetic language, and, in the process, failed to make my case.

I have re-organized my logic and re-written the material to give the essay greater coherence and to make the points I intended.

When I am finished with the "re-do", I hope it states my case more elegantly. Too late for the contest, of course, but, it will make me feel better.

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Robert de Neufville replied on May. 15, 2014 @ 03:51 GMT
One thing I've learned, Jack, is that most of what I write will never be published. But I've also found that the hard work I put in is never wasted...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 02:15 GMT
Jacks,

I must say your essay doesn't lend sounds of legalize. I would wonder if you put too much of an idealistic burden on the human developers of AI, believing the our frailities will not be programmed into such a creation. Science does favor honest observation but humanity's application of it is another thing. Your statement of challenge does say it all: it's in the harvesting for greater good.

My essay speaks of seeing beyond into "dark skies" and within the microcosm of the universe, the brain.

Good presentation with good quotes.

Jim

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Author Jack Peggs wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 02:55 GMT
I wish I had taken more time in developing the logic for my essay. I certainly agree that as the essay stands, it really does seem like "a leap" to suggest that the developers of AI will be able to easily instill ideals into us humans. In more developed form the argument would be that humans are by nature driven toward ideals; they want to achieve the virtues of their idealism, but, they are impaired by their limited intellectual capacity in "finding their way". With transcendence, my argument would be, humans should reach their lofty goal.

As for the legalize....I tried to leave that at the door when I came in.

Thanks,

JP

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 14:10 GMT
Jack,

I didn't find your 'leap' that hard to make. Everything is a 2 way process. Even while considering the values of AI we'll be reconsidering our own.

I also find perceptive and critical; "our planet faces grave risks to which antiquated beliefs hardly have an adequate response." ... "We need a new paradigm, in directing our technology, one worthy of, and, consistent with our conquest of the atom and that of taking our first steps on the moon." ... "As our childhood, at last, draws to an end, our new age requires that we find the necessary wisdom not out of votive offerings, but, from within ourselves."

I subtly argue exactly that, and try to demonstrate the power of finding and applying that new wisdom from within to improve our understanding of nature. We agree entirely; "...they are impaired by their limited intellectual capacity in "finding their way"." We just express the solution differently, mine allegorical and logical, yours beautifully lyrical.

One point we may diverge on is my concern that we need to improve the way we think before modelling AI on ourselves. Might not the risk of building in such flaws lead to disaster?

A very enjoyable essay to read, much under rated I think. Well done and thank you. I hope the dreaded letters QM won't put you off mine. My experiment ans simple geometry shows it's 'predictions' can really be derived paradox free by an 11 year old!

Best wishes

Peter

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Steven Kaas wrote on Jun. 7, 2014 @ 03:32 GMT
We agree that future technologies which will affect our ability to steer rightly -- or which might themselves steer, rightly or wrongly -- are the important things to focus on. Your description of a transformed humanity's potential future competence at recognizing deep structure in ethics, epistemology, and ontology also has some intuitive plausibility (once one grants the premise of the scenario), even if it is not in terms of a conceptual framework suitable for building technologies. However, your discussion still leaves what feels like a gap on the way from here to there. It would be nice to put more emphasis on stopgap technologies that could improve human understanding of ethics and epistemology relevant to projects like radical human cognitive enhancement or AI, before taking on the risks of those projects. But then, what technologies would those be? The only major novel possibility we can think of would be a cultural technology: the intensive promotion of understanding of fundamental concepts from Bayesian decision theory, game theory, and cognitive science, as these offer the most precise and least controversial deep principles we know for thinking about epistemology or ethics. However, even then, there isn't any obvious way to get such a technology refined to the point where it could generate sufficient human excellence.

Steven Kaas & Steve Rayhawk

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