What is a human being? Are we unique creatures, bearing evidence of purpose in our making? Or are we meat-clad robots, a race of glitchy natural machines sprung up by chance through unguided evolution?
From these questions emerge related but separate questions. What are the limits of machines, and what is their appropriate role in our lives? To answer an urgent need for critical examination, Discovery Institute announces the creation of a new research center. To be launched in July 2018 in Seattle, the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence will be directed by Professor Robert Marks of Baylor University and will focus on the profound concerns stirred by the mystery of minds. Computers vastly outperform humans in executing calculations. But in any meaningful sense, can they host minds? Has technology revealed the emptiness of the traditional idea of a soul? Does AI liberate human energy, or will it put vast numbers of us out of jobs, and enslave the rest with deliberately hypnotic, addictive products?
Does it threaten our privacy and autonomy? Or even worse? Stephen Hawking and others have seen in AI nothing less than a looming catastrophe for humankind, necessitating an embrace of “some form of world government” as the only defense against extinction.
The Bradley Center will address all this and more. The Center honors the intellectual legacy of Discovery Institute Fellow Walter Bradley, who has served as a distinguished and decorated professor of engineering at Baylor University and Texas A&M. Dr. Bradley helped sparked a revolution in scientific thinking with the 1984 book he co-authored, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories.
This development could hardly be more timely. The threats, promises, and limits of artificial intelligence, impossible to separate from the enigma of natural intelligence, stir awe, fear, and hope like few others subjects in our culture. The matter is a constant media preoccupation. There is a vast need for rational consideration. And it cannot be left to the media with the latter’s interest in scaremongering, or to tech giants seeking to accommodate us to a future that may be in their interest, but not ours.
The Bradley Center will have a major role in educating the public and challenging scholars. We hope you will join the conversation!