the society of mind

minsky.jpgMarvin Minksy, one of the founding figures in Artificial Intelligence, in his Society of Mind (1985):

People ask if machines have souls. And I ask back whether souls can learn. It does not seem a fair exchange – if souls can live for endless time and yet not use that time to learn – to trade all change for changelessness. And that’s exactly what we get with inborn souls that cannot grow: a destiny the same as death, an ending in a permanence incapable of any change and, hence, devoid of intellect.

We start as little embryos, which then build great and wonderous selves – whose merit lies entirely within their own coherancy. The value of a human self lies not in some small, precious core, but in its vast constructed crust

What are those old and fierce beliefs in spirits, souls, and essences? They’re all insinuation that we’re helpless to improve ourselves. To look for our virtues in such thoughts seems just as wrongly aimed a search as seeking art in canvas cloths by scraping off the painter’s works.

One Comment

  1. angelia
    Posted January 1, 2007 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    perfect – thank you.
    we needn’t accept faulty premises in our culture; our existence is more fantastic without them.

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