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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Is Jonas a Man?
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 10:11:58 

	With respect to the "anthropomorphism" debate here, I think that Mr.
Million is, indeed, our best look at Wolfe's attitude:  highly ambiguous--Mr.
Million clearly has a strong relation to a man who once lived, and it is
foolish, in the context of the story, to consider him purely as "a machine"--a
glorified calculator, if you will.  Certainly the Roman Catholic church hasn't
pronounced that AIs have souls, or anything--but then, there haven't been any
test cases of robots wanting to become Jesuits, either.  The Church, on a basis
similar to the ones involved in AI, doesn't approve of human cloning or
alternative reproductive methods either--but certainly still considers the
products to have souls.  Since the process by which we receive souls is a
Mystery, its not impossible to consider that God might grant them to
"machines."  After all, a strong theme in Wolfe seems to be that NOTHING is
really _just_ man-made.  This seems to be Wolfe's take--that it's not
necessarily true, but its also not impossible--if it looks like a duck, walks
like a duck, maybe you'd best at least consider it a duck to some extent, if
you still have reservations about the proof of duck-hood.  Whether Jonas is a
"man" or not in the full sense of the word, he's Severian's friend, and it
would certainly incline me towards the "Severian is a jerk" school if Severian
ceased to consider him such once he realizes he's a machine.

	Tangentially, at the rate Hofstadter, Minsky, etc. are going, I don't
think we're going to have to think about this seriously anytime soon.  When I
started my undergraduate computer science degree, I was planning to go into AI
research.  I'm starting on my PhD at Carnegie Mellon this fall, and I intend to
stay WAY away from the stuff (going into either formal methods or programming
languages instead)--in my opinion there has been a lot of advance in
brute-force and "clever" approaches to limited, game-like systems and "expert"
domains, but the progress in realizing "intelligence", whatever it may be,
seems to have been nil.

On Jun 16,  9:30am, Michael Straight wrote:
> Subject: Re: (urth) Is Jonas a Man?
> On Wed, 16 Jun 1999, Peter Stephenson wrote:
> > There are plenty of people arguing for one extreme or another, i.e. either
> > for a religious fundamentalist form of strong dualism, or that by next
> > Friday someone will have invented a machine which has all (and the strong
> > AI people do seem to mean all) the characteristics of a human being (plus a
> > whole lot of others just to show how clever the inventor is).  Plus there
> > are plenty of possibilities in the middle depending on your attitude to
> > emergent phenomena and what constitutes duality, humanity, `attitude',
> > `what', `the' and every other word in the dictionary; 
> [...]
> > Brief bibliography (I shall be posting a test on this next week -- not):
> > 
> > A. Asimov, The Bicentennial Man
> > R. Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind; Shadows of the Mind
> A few other good ones:
> Hofstadter, Douglas R.
> The mind's I : fantasies and reflections on self and soul / composed and
> arranged by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett.
> Egan, Greg : _Permutation City_ and _Diaspora_
> -Rostrum
> *More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/
>-- End of excerpt from Michael Straight

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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