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George Gilder, Jay Richards, and Robert J. Marks at Dallas Launch of Walter Bradley Center

Robert J. Marks: Are There Things About Human Beings That You Cannot Write Code For?

Bradley Center director Marks asks that question, relating the Center’s goals to human aspirations

In a panel discussion at the Dallas launch of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence, the Center’s director, Baylor Professor of Computer Engineering Robert J. Marks, offered some thoughts on the evening’s topic, “Will “Smart” Machines Take Over Our Jobs?”:

Robert J. Marks II (right) on What Computers and Humans Can Do. The other panelists are Jay Richards (center), author of The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines. and George Gilder (left), author of Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy.

He began with a quotation from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden:

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

Dr. Marks added, “I think that John Steinbeck’s little excerpt there embodies some of the philosophy that we are embracing at the Bradley Center,” in terms of a realistic look at the limitations of what algorithms can and can’t achieve.

Some limits, he explained, are fundamentals of nature: “Now, in computer science, one of the first things you are taught is that some things are non-algorithmic. The classic one is the Turing halting problem. You can’t write a computer program that can analyze another arbitrary computer program to see whether that program will run forever or stop. It is a very simple, proven operation that is non-analytic; you cannot write code for that.”

But then he asked, “Are there things about human beings that you cannot write code for? Non-computable things people can do? And the answer, I would say, is yes. And I think the most interesting and the most testable is creativity.”

Unfortunately, he added, “There’s a lot of hype. One of the things we want to do at the Bradley Center is cut through that hype.” In his own writing for the Center, he focuses on seductive semantics and seductive optics (for example, packaging a robot to look like a human, to make it seem “smarter.”)

In closing, he emphasized the positive contributions of AI to society, for example, the role of artificial intelligence in medicine, especially in developing countries. Understanding AI properly should lead, he thinks, to celebration rather than fear.

Also from the Dallas launch: Jay Richards: Creative freedom, not robots, is the future of work The Officially Smart people are telling us two scenarios, good and bad, about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), says Jay Richards, a research professor at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America. He disagrees with both. In an information economy, he says, there will be a place where the human person is at the very center.


Robert J. Marks is the author of Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, along with design theorist William Dembski and Winston Ewert.

Also by Robert J. Marks: Top Ten AI hypes of 2018

Things Exist That Are Unknowable A tutorial on Chaitin’s number

and

Autonomous AI in War: Trial by Ordeal

See also: Walter Bradley: Tell people about AI, not sci-fi His struggle to bring reality to“sci-fi” origin of life research is the Center’s inspiration.


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Robert J. Marks: Are There Things About Human Beings That You Cannot Write Code For?