“In Minority Report, despite Maglev cars and floating user interfaces, people still catch colds. Similarly, I believe that a hundred years from now, something like 25% of restaurant tables will still wobble. Forget about the Singularity or Moore’s Law reaching its zenith, this fact about tables will somehow remain.”

https://posts.philipkd.com/wobbly-tables-and-the-problem-with-futurism-934468d2308#.tjwu98pa3

17 thoughts on ““In Minority Report, despite Maglev cars and floating user interfaces, people still catch colds. Similarly, I…

  1. Nobody is kind of relative. I can imagine some folks who are not tech-heads or futurists might be quite happy with cybernetic prosthetics or consciousness transfer if their other options are less welcome…stage IV cancer patients, for example. 🙂

    Quip aside, I agree that the usual vision relies more on what Marketing wants to think than what the folks in R&D would say.

  2. < ![CDATA[Nobody is kind of relative. I can imagine some folks who are not tech-heads or futurists might be quite happy with cybernetic prosthetics or consciousness transfer if their other options are less welcome…stage IV cancer patients, for example. 🙂
    Quip aside, I agree that the usual vision relies more on what Marketing wants to think than what the folks in R&D would say.]]>

  3. Daniel Swensen I hear you. But, again, the car was, overall, an improvement.

    And I’ll admit I am a it of a curmudgeon on this subject. In RPG terms, I think Traveller is a far more likely scenario (tech is mostly like now, but there are starships) than Eclipse Phase (sapient octopi).

  4. < ![CDATA[Daniel Swensen I hear you. But, again, the car was, overall, an improvement. And I'll admit I am a it of a curmudgeon on this subject. In RPG terms, I think Traveller is a far more likely scenario (tech is mostly like now, but there are starships) than Eclipse Phase (sapient octopi).]]>

  5. Mark Delsing As a fashion statement, which is what I think you were intending? Yeah, not so easily embraced. (grin)

    It might be cool to be an octopus for a little while, though, especially if one is a marine biologist or deep sea explorer. Just not permanently.

  6. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing As a fashion statement, which is what I think you were intending? Yeah, not so easily embraced. (grin) It might be cool to be an octopus for a little while, though, especially if one is a marine biologist or deep sea explorer. Just not permanently.]]>

  7. Wait — OCTOPI? (or OCTOPODES?) In general my attitude towards the singularity is “you’ll have to pry my uploadable consciousness from my cold dead brain,” but if cephalopods are on the table I’d make an exception.

  8. < ![CDATA[Wait -- OCTOPI? (or OCTOPODES?) In general my attitude towards the singularity is "you'll have to pry my uploadable consciousness from my cold dead brain," but if cephalopods are on the table I'd make an exception.]]>

  9. Chris Chinn while I am pretty much in sympathy with the conclusions of that article, I found it disappointing as an argument for those conclusions. The author proceeds by bluster and superciliousness and doesn’t show a lot of understanding of a lot of the things he is criticizing.

  10. < ![CDATA[Chris Chinn while I am pretty much in sympathy with the conclusions of that article, I found it disappointing as an argument for those conclusions. The author proceeds by bluster and superciliousness and doesn't show a lot of understanding of a lot of the things he is criticizing.]]>

  11. Chris Chinn I really enjoyed that article! It’s important to remember how limited we are by our current conceptions of the world and how it works.

    Ed Heil what is the author getting wrong?

  12. < ![CDATA[Chris Chinn I really enjoyed that article! It's important to remember how limited we are by our current conceptions of the world and how it works.
    Ed Heil what is the author getting wrong?]]>

  13. Anthony Hersey point taken! I’ll rebut with the fact that, in the US at least, corporations and the government have been training us to eat goop pooped out by machines for almost a century now. Not sure we can say the same about willing amputation.

  14. < ![CDATA[Anthony Hersey point taken! I'll rebut with the fact that, in the US at least, corporations and the government have been training us to eat goop pooped out by machines for almost a century now. Not sure we can say the same about willing amputation.]]>

  15. +Mark Delsing that’s a very very big question, & I’m not sure I could do it justice. I guess you could say he’s arguing against a high-level equivalence between the parts of a computer, and their functions, and the parts of a brain, and their functions, that nobody working in artificial intelligence or neuroscience has considered remotely plausible for like 20-30 years.

    He seems to get downright behaviorist at some points. “no image of the dollar bill has in any sense been ‘stored’ in Jinny’s brain. She has simply become better prepared to draw it accurately, just as, through practice, a pianist becomes more skilled in playing a concerto without somehow inhaling a copy of the sheet music.” …. that’s…. that’s worthy of B.F. Skinner. There’s no such thing as having knowledge in the brain, only the trained ability to perform certain tasks? That’s not post-mentalist thinking, that’s pre-mentalist thinking. That’s early-to-mid-20th-century Skinnerianism.

    “From this simple exercise, we can begin to build the framework of a metaphor-free theory of intelligent human behaviour”

    Really? Really, this dude in Aeon magazine is the one guy who is going to lead us into an enlightened post-metaphorical era of thinking about the brain? Because people make “imperfect” drawings of dollar bills?

    Nobody but nobody in AI thinks that anybody has ever “stored” an image of a dollar bill in such a way that it must be reproducible perfectly because it’s like a JPEG. literally nobody thought that and no modeling of it, by anybody however encumbered by computer metaphors, assumed it was true. And you know what, even if they did think such a representation was stored (as opposed to representations of features extracted from images), that wouldn’t imply that it could lead to a perfect drawing.

    It’s literally Creationist-level critique of science. “If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? EXPLAIN THAT, SCIENCE!” “If you store information about what a dollar bill looks like, how come you can’t reproduce it with a pen and pencil like showing a JPEG on a monitor? EXPLAIN THAT, SCIENCE!”

    I have a good friend who is a for-real, actual AI researcher, who’s done a lot of in-the-trenches, on-the-frontier-of-what-is-known work on things like machine learning, in several different jobs, academic, defense, private. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and I know a lot of smart people. He’s as aware of the vast gulfs between our ability to understand and mimic the mind, and the reality of the mind, as anybody. He is as ready to critique “my mind is a computer, I”m gonna upload my consciousness” fantasies as anybody. He hates Singularity fanboys as much as anybody I’ve ever heard of.

    But this article drove him crazy cause everything about it was so offbase on such basic levels.

  16. < ![CDATA[+Mark Delsing that's a very very big question, & I'm not sure I could do it justice. I guess you could say he's arguing against a high-level equivalence between the parts of a computer, and their functions, and the parts of a brain, and their functions, that nobody working in artificial intelligence or neuroscience has considered remotely plausible for like 20-30 years. He seems to get downright behaviorist at some points. "no image of the dollar bill has in any sense been ‘stored’ in Jinny’s brain. She has simply become better prepared to draw it accurately, just as, through practice, a pianist becomes more skilled in playing a concerto without somehow inhaling a copy of the sheet music." .... that's.... that's worthy of B.F. Skinner. There's no such thing as having knowledge in the brain, only the trained ability to perform certain tasks? That's not post-mentalist thinking, that's pre-mentalist thinking. That's early-to-mid-20th-century Skinnerianism. "From this simple exercise, we can begin to build the framework of a metaphor-free theory of intelligent human behaviour" Really? Really, this dude in Aeon magazine is the one guy who is going to lead us into an enlightened post-metaphorical era of thinking about the brain? Because people make "imperfect" drawings of dollar bills? Nobody but nobody in AI thinks that anybody has ever "stored" an image of a dollar bill in such a way that it must be reproducible perfectly because it's like a JPEG. literally nobody thought that and no modeling of it, by anybody however encumbered by computer metaphors, assumed it was true. And you know what, even if they did think such a representation was stored (as opposed to representations of features extracted from images), that wouldn’t imply that it could lead to a perfect drawing.
    It’s literally Creationist-level critique of science. “If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? EXPLAIN THAT, SCIENCE!” “If you store information about what a dollar bill looks like, how come you can’t reproduce it with a pen and pencil like showing a JPEG on a monitor? EXPLAIN THAT, SCIENCE!”
    I have a good friend who is a for-real, actual AI researcher, who’s done a lot of in-the-trenches, on-the-frontier-of-what-is-known work on things like machine learning, in several different jobs, academic, defense, private. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and I know a lot of smart people. He’s as aware of the vast gulfs between our ability to understand and mimic the mind, and the reality of the mind, as anybody. He is as ready to critique “my mind is a computer, I”m gonna upload my consciousness” fantasies as anybody. He hates Singularity fanboys as much as anybody I’ve ever heard of.
    But this article drove him crazy cause everything about it was so offbase on such basic levels.]]>

  17. It’s like listening to Ken Hamm of Answers In Genesis tell you why what everybody believes about evolution is fundamentally wrong, versus listening to Steven Jay Gould or Ron Edwards tell you why what everybody believes about evolution is fundamentally wrong.

  18. < ![CDATA[It's like listening to Ken Hamm of Answers In Genesis tell you why what everybody believes about evolution is fundamentally wrong, versus listening to Steven Jay Gould or Ron Edwards tell you why what everybody believes about evolution is fundamentally wrong.]]>

  19. It may be a bit off-topic, but as you might guess, my main beef with the Singularity folks isn’t the nuts & bolts of intelligence, but its larger context. They take the erroneous Beast/Man divide exactly where Herbert Spencer did, inferring that there must be Beast/Man/Angel, and having crossed the first line, why, we must be about to cross the next. It all evaporates when you examine the line between Beast and Man to discover it’s not there, and then to take the next step to remove those categories entirely, to consider what “an animal” really means.

  20. < ![CDATA[It may be a bit off-topic, but as you might guess, my main beef with the Singularity folks isn't the nuts & bolts of intelligence, but its larger context. They take the erroneous Beast/Man divide exactly where Herbert Spencer did, inferring that there must be Beast/Man/Angel, and having crossed the first line, why, we must be about to cross the next. It all evaporates when you examine the line between Beast and Man to discover it's not there, and then to take the next step to remove those categories entirely, to consider what "an animal" really means.]]>