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Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science Baris Simsek / Istockphoto.com The achievement is impressive, but it is a wholly formal achievement that involves no knowledge…and it does not come within a million miles of replicating the achievements of everyday human thought. —Law professor Stanley Fish, on Watson, the I.B.M.–built computer that won a game of “Jeopardy” (The New York Times Opinionator blog, Feb. 21, 2011) By 2029, we’ll have reve

By | April 1, 2011

Speaking of Science

Baris Simsek / Istockphoto.com

The achievement is impressive, but it is a wholly formal achievement that involves no knowledge…and it does not come within a million miles of replicating the achievements of everyday human thought.
—Law professor Stanley Fish, on Watson, the I.B.M.–built computer that won a game of “Jeopardy” (The New York Times Opinionator blog, Feb. 21, 2011)



By 2029, we’ll have reverse engineered and modeled and simulated all the regions of the brain. And that will provide us the software/algorithmic methods to….create machines that really do have the subtlety and suppleness of human intelligence.
—Futurist Ray Kurzweil, explaining what he calls the “coming singularity” (BigThink.com video, #14532)



There is something uncanny and creepy about the way the brain intrudes on the mind, as if the mind has been infiltrated by an alien life form.
—Philosopher Colin McGinn, in a review of V.S. Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human (NY Review of Books, Mar. 24, 2011)



Hell—is sitting on a hot stone reading your own scientific publications.
—Fish biologist Erik Ursin, quoted in a Kaj Sand-Jensen paper in Oikos on how to write boring scientific manuscripts (Free F1000 Evaluation)



Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments.
—Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, referencing H. Mercier and D. Sperber (Edge.org conference “The New Science of Morality”)



The time in which we now live would then, sadly and justly, surely become known as the “Anthropocene.” We have received an important message from a warm planet. We can understand it, and we should respond—as if people mattered.
Bryan Lovell, president of the Geological Society of London, in his 2010 book Challenged by Carbon



Send us timely and interesting quotes, along with context, to quotes@the-scientist.com.

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Comments

Avatar of: PAUL STEIN

PAUL STEIN

Posts: 33

April 25, 2011

Ray Kurzweil is incredibly optimistic in his conclusion. Looking back at the historical publication record of neuroscience, the last few decades of extremely concerted efforts have not gotten us very much closer towards his "goal". Let's try 2061...at least.
Avatar of: DENNIS HOLLENBERG

DENNIS HOLLENBERG

Posts: 26

April 26, 2011

Roger that, Stein. Engineers laudably find they can account for a very thin layer of the local universe (human technology), but then make extrapolationists' tediously common mistake of extending their parochial view to noncultural domains.\n\nAside from that microtomic sliver, the universe works through a very different (set of) dynamics, as seen in biological systems that are too messy for those of fastidious bent. Still, he should keep selling books to the gullible while the hiatus in our understanding persists!\n\nHowever, no mind will ever occupy a digital storage device of any scheme (including quantum devices) because life's methods are fundamentally incompatible with such Procrustean, ahem, shortcuts. Thus, we can comfortably mark our calendars for the date of his Essential Digitization to about half-past _never_.
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