1. What about an absolute "universal principle" or even "universal laws of nature" ? Do they exist ? Why should they ?
- To my opinion (since ten years now) the cosmos is a plethoria of many "principles" and "laws of nature" , not always harmonic with each other, competing or trying to co-exist with each other.
- Admitted, some laws of nature have a very wide area of validity, encompassing the whole physical world within sight and even more.
- Such laws are "valid" for all testable cases ! But these laws need NOT be universal in an absolute sense .
2. Analogously there will be NO universal principles and laws for the whole of humanity .
- It may happen though that there is gradually formed and agreed to one set of principles and laws that is accepted by most human groups.
- But then the laws must be very sophisticated to be able to apply it in very different human environments, also in the "alternative" sub-groups with special views of life.
- No, I think in the next centuries we will succeed to form a set of principles and laws acceptable by most human groups, but not (not yet ?) ALL human groups.
- * * * - - ROBOTSFU 200304111621 LH - * * * -
- - - ROBOTS
- - - - or
Thoughts about the far future of computers .
- from L. Horowitz , written August 1976 , based on talk during
Summer Course English at Knuston Hall, Wellingborough .
- Typed and slightly adapted 11 april 2003 (and added two addenda 2004/08/22) .
- I like to tell you something about what I am interested in, so I
choose to talk about my thoughts about the distant future (as
opposed to "near" future) of computers .
- When I was young I thought much about it . I like to talk about it . For ease I go on chronologically .
- History of my interest .
- From about seven years old on, I remember, I made fantasies about a magic machine which you could ask to make everything you wanted, from pencils through microscopes, autocars, houses till giant airplanes and many other things .
- When I was twelve I built from merely twenty blocks of the game of dominoes a structure which I called : "duplicator" (in Dutch language: "verdubbelaar"): when you put in a single block, two came out (picture I , not shown here) . And this structure was made of only one kind of stone .
- At sixteen I fancied about machines who could calculate the chemical properties of molecules .
- At eighteen I made fantasies about computers that could do all sorts of things, for example designing of better and better computers, and so on and on.
- At twenty I studied the details of computer-programming of that time (1957),
- At twenty-four I thought out a computer model for the functioning of human memory .
- Well, at twenty-three I wrote a small article for a student periodical, about the imitation of the human mind by computer .
- Because I am still interested in it, I want to explain this to you in more detail .
- Brain and Mind .
- As a prelude I want to say something about the conception of the "will" of human beings . Some philosophers say that this "will" is something very special, something extra, beside of the normal laws of nature . I believe no, it is not ; at the contrary, the laws of nature are an expression of the will of the constituent parts of nature, the laws of nature are a description of eh.. what nature wants !
- Now first something about the mind . The brain is part of the system of nerves of a human being . The mind can be conceived simply as the complex of electric currents that are flowing continuously through the brain .
- This complex of currents is very very complicated indeed, so complicated that in any case it cannot be understood as a whole by a human being, and can exhibit properties of intuition and purposefull behaviour indeed . Now it seems possible , in principle , to make a system of electric elements, that imitates the system of nerves of a human being , so ... it can convey the complex of electric currents that I just mentioned , so it can carry a mind .
- And indeed, the currently available so-called computers, are a first step to this, but the largest of these computers are in 1976 a thousand times too small, and their structures are probably not so suitable .
- But when you have got a structure that can carry a mind, you have still to put in a mind into the structure and develop that mind , I mean by some learning process . This now is the big problem. The developing is comparable with the problem of educating a human child, but more difficult because we have no example in educating a machine . But what mind one should put in that can be developed properly ? It is indeed a big big problem .
- But when this all has been accomplished, then one has got a thing that one could call perhaps a "robot" . I like to denote it here with the name "metal man" , to stress that it has a '"will" of itself, like a "man" : indeed, only the material of the eh.. brain is different .
- (addendum 2004/08/11 :) The metal men will have very fast connections with each other (one may compare today's computer-datalines) so they form all together a (computer-)network with a high degree of common consciousness , and act as a unity .
- Further speculations .
- I think in the long run, it will be possible to make such a "metal man" and it will be made; it can last many thousands of years, but it will happen. Of course before it comes to that, many things of all kinds will have happened in this world .
- And now I like to continue this fantastic picture of the far future .
- Various kinds of "metal men" will exist . They will also repair each other and support themselves . "Metal men" will make soon other "metal men" , and "super metal men" that can do a thousand times as much .
- Original men will play only a subordinate role in the world . The sequence of evolution of life on earth is extended: .. - primeaval soup - unicellular organisms - animals - vertebrates - mammals - apes - humans - metalmen - supermetalmen - .. ?
- The supermetalmen develop science and technology to now unknown possibilities . More and more desires of men and metal men will be fulfilled . Will once all desires be fulfilled ? Probably not . Again and again there will come up new desires .
- For example : contact creatures on other worlds . And: change or augmentation of the physical laws of the universe. The last thing goes very very far indeed, but perhaps by cooperation of creatures of the whole universe this can be accomplished ..
- (addendum 2004/08/12 :) An example of how something that resembles a new physical law could be established : agreement between all computer-networks of the Universe (or most of them) to try to direct their magnets (or their magnets of a certain kind) to point to a fixed starsystem .
- But now I should stop, for this begins to resemble too much science fiction .