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As I (mis)understand the laws of physics, there is nothing preventing a toaster from suddenly jumping into existence from nothingness. The odds against it are in the fergetaboutit range, but that assumes the universe is only a tad over 14 billion years old. And it assumes there aren't many universes.

Suppose the Big Bang was just a Big Comma, separating what came before from what came after. After a trillion years times a trillion, the toaster's odds of springing into existence improve. The same holds true if there are lots more universes that we don't know about.

Now suppose instead of a toaster, a robot jumps into existence. (Hey, if you believed a toaster could materialize, it's not such a big leap.)  The hypothetical robot is coincidentally hardened against the harsh forces of the universe and capable of surviving almost anything. Its program, created by entirely random forces, tells it to manipulate the building blocks of nature to create life in a way that allowed evolution to occur.

In such a hypothetical situation, would you say Intelligent Design was involved in creating the universe Remember, while the robot might be extraordinarily capable, he has no free will. And his intelligence isn't the sort we generally attribute to a designer. The robot had no reason to create life. It simply followed its program.

What interests me about this hypothetical question is that most people won't be able to answer it with a yes or a no because it smells like a trap.

 
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Nov 24, 2008
"What interests me about this hypothetical question..."

I didn't notice any questions in this post.
 
 
Nov 24, 2008
Here's how the robot is already God: http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

It can create itself. It does not care why, how, where. Yes and No would then depend on how you look at them - to paraphrase, someone's (the robot's) "yes" is your "no". That's why your question can't be answered with thumbs up or down - say it's ust a dash ---, and when you look at it, it looks like a "yes", when I look at it, it's a "no" (GIF animation coming).
 
 
Nov 18, 2008
The problem with this popular fantasy is that for every robot there would be quadrillions of "not quite" robots, all broken in difficult to diagnose, unmentionable, or amusing ways. This is analogous to the verdict on the thesis that a million monkeys typing for a sufficiently long time might reproduce the works of Shakespeare: Thanks to the Internet, we now know that this is not true.

Actually, it isn't. But I like that joke.
 
 
Nov 18, 2008
would you say Intelligent Design was involved in creating the universe.

yes

in your face adams!
 
 
Nov 17, 2008
Meh. You've simply redefined "Intelligent Design" as the outcome of an improbably rare event. As if the big bang and evolution weren't sufficiently improbable.
 
 
Nov 17, 2008
"the toaster's odds of springing into existence improve"

I don't know why they would improve. The coin's odds of falling facing "tails" do not improve after 100 million tosses: they will always be 50%. Isn't that so? Sorry, I'm not that "fluent" in math...
 
 
Nov 17, 2008
Misunderstood terribly. Randomness leads to increasing entropy, not order, so there IS something preventing a toaster, let alone an acutley programmed robot, from popping into existence.
 
 
Nov 17, 2008
If this hypothetical scenario is true, then I would recommend you worship the robot.

Call it a robot, and attribute it a random begining. But still, you have an almighty, all powerful creator. If not for the cognitive resistence to the existence of G-d, you would realize that you created Him to fill the vacuum of what gives our world its order and existence.

And especially, when we think about your starting premise, we really don't believe that a toaster can pop into existence randomly. So to accept that a almighty robot can, conveniently programmed to create an ordered universe, preposterous!

 
 
Nov 17, 2008
If this hypothetical scenario is true, then I would recommend you worship the robot.

Call it a robot, and attribute it a random begining. But still, you have an almighty, all powerful creator. If not for the cognitive resistence to the existence of G-d, you would realize that you created Him to fill the vacuum of what gives our world its order and existence.

And especially, when we think about your starting premise, we really don't believe that a toaster can pop into existence randomly. So to accept that a almighty robot can, conveniently programmed to create an ordered universe, preposterous!

 
 
Nov 17, 2008
Unfortunately the Universe did not see fit to produce any question marks in this blog. Therefore my programming is unable to process and/or answer any questions which may or may not have been posed therein.
 
 
Nov 17, 2008
I love this line of thought.

The catch is that any question can be asked using the same logic: Is it possible that menare, in fact, green, but are unknowingly programmed to ignore every evidence about it?

and i'm not talking about a word. i'm talking about boston celtic's green.

One would be tempted to say that empirical testing should prove wrong. There are phisical and chemical tests that should prove the real color.

BUT, the interpreters of that information are human and thus uncapable of understanding or beleiving it altogheter. they could be looking at the tests results and reading "pink, mate, skin is pink".


it's some kind of defective inductive thinking: i made an unplausible statement and then adjusted the patterns and laws regarding that statement so that it would "fit".


that's why, i think, it sounds kind of tricky. inductive thinking tends to do that. it's very easy to get your assumptions mixed up.

(btw, i'm not talking AGAINST it. it's very interesting to pose hypotesis and philosotainment questions)

my answer is: no free wil.


by the way... it would be interesting to ask us the relation (if any) between intelligence and will. Sometimes i wonder if there is not an answer between the gaps of those two concepts.


 
 
Nov 17, 2008
I love this line of thought.

The catch is that any question can be asked using the same logic: Is it possible that menare, in fact, green, but are unknowingly programmed to ignore every evidence about it?

and i'm not talking about a word. i'm talking about boston celtic's green.

One would be tempted to say that empirical testing should prove wrong. There are phisical and chemical tests that should prove the real color.

BUT, the interpreters of that information are human and thus uncapable of understanding or beleiving it altogheter. they could be looking at the tests results and reading "pink, mate, skin is pink".


it's some kind of defective inductive thinking: i made an unplausible statement and then adjusted the patterns, laws


 
 
Nov 16, 2008
I think you'd enjoy today's xkcd: http://xkcd.org/505/
 
 
Nov 16, 2008
laws of physics:
>>Assume Quantum mechanics and not newtons classical physics.

Its(Robot) program, created by entirely random forces:

>>Is it a Turing Machine?
Well lets assume by Robot and program you mean a Turing machine.

Intelligent Design was involved in creating the universe Remember, while the robot might be extraordinarily capable, he has no free will:

>>Now here come the Question what is free will???
Well a program surely hasn't got a free will but what about the random forces that actually created that Robot???
Well the random forces is actually a free will! Hence you deterministic robot is created by free will. what it does later is dependent on that free will, then let it be deterministic. the "programmer" was random hence you cant deny existence of free will.

In such a hypothetical situation, would you say Intelligent Design was involved in creating the universe Remember, while the robot might be extraordinarily capable, he has no free will. And his intelligence isn't the sort we generally attribute to a designer. The robot had no reason to create life. It simply followed its program.

>> Same error you seem to focus on robot but not the process which created the robot. arent those random forces represent free will?

What interests me about this hypothetical question is that most people won't be able to answer it with a yes or a no because it smells like a trap.:

>>Well there a theorem called as Godel Incompleteness theorems.
Acording to which it is possible to prove free will.

Lucas (1961) began a lengthy and heated debate over the implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorems for the anthropic mechanism thesis, by arguing that:[1]

1. Determinism ↔ For any human h there exists at least one (deterministic) logical system L(h) which reliably predicts H's actions in all circumstances.
2. For any logical system L a sufficiently skilled mathematical logician (equipped with a sufficiently powerful computer if necessary) can construct some statements T(L) which are true but unprovable in L. (This follows from Gödel's first theorem.)
3. If a human m is a sufficiently skillful mathematical logician (equipped with a sufficiently powerful computer if necessary) then if m is given L(m), he or she can construct T(L(m)) and
4. Determine that they are true--which L(m) cannot do.
5. Hence L(m) does not reliably predict m's actions in all circumstances.
6. Hence m has free will.
7. It is implausible that the qualitative difference between mathematical logicians and the rest of the population is such that the former have free will and the latter do not.



 
 
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Nov 15, 2008
What came to mind as I reread your blog was a concern about autonomous robots going wild, particularly those that the military are beginning to use which are armed. It is scary to contemplate an autonomous device scanning with powers that you and I don't have, deciding where to focus, deciding whether the object is friend or foe, and attacking the object with all it's powers. But autonomous robots aren't just in the military. They're being developed to navigate within our bodies and make spot repairs as needed (and determined by them). To me that's equally scary. And I've seen many other similar scenarios developing.

But as a person researching the field of robotics with a focus on the emerging service business segments versus those tied to industrial practices, I'm surprised at the quality of the science and products and equally surprised at the fact that they're really not that advanced. Certainly not to the level of independence that my mind can conjure.

In the case of armed robots, they're not really autonomous; they're remote controlled albeit controlled by some pretty fantastic communication, surveillance and computing supporting that controller - so it all goes back to the fact that robots and robotic activities are designed step by step by mathematicians and programmers with businesspeople guiding them toward a profitable product line.

When things go wrong, it's best to keep in mind that it's not "them" but really "us" that caused - and can fix - the problem(s).

Frank Tobe
THE ROBOT REPORT dot com
Tracking the business of robotics
 
 
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Nov 15, 2008
This sounds like a trap Scott. I'll tentatively answer "no". Crap, this is a trap and I'm left to die here in a puddle of my own urine. Maybe the universe will make one of those urine to water converter boxes that the astronauts like appear out of nowhere. A toaster does me no good now.
 
 
Nov 15, 2008
You're forgetting about the Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that no matter can be created or destroyed. That means that no matter how cool it would be, no toaster or robot could appear out of nothing (but a free toaster would be cool).
 
 
Nov 15, 2008
DMD.
 
 
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Nov 15, 2008
This theory is based on incomplete information and will therefore always end in a wrong answer, whether it's yes or no, both answers are wrong. We have created the "Laws of Physics" "Theory of Evolution" and all these other wonderful ideas to explain our observations of the world around us. Unfortunately because there is no perfect knowledge we will always be wrong, thus making exercises such as these an exercise in futility. But like riding my bicycle it's both painful and fun. The answer is yes.
 
 
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Nov 15, 2008
This theory is based on incomplete information and will therefore always end in a wrong answer, whether it's yes or no, both answers are wrong. We have created the "Laws of Physics" "Theory of Evolution" and all these other wonderful ideas to explain our observations of the world around us. Unfortunately because there is no perfect knowledge we will always be wrong, thus making exercises such as these an exercise in futility. But like riding my bicycle it's both painful and fun. The answer is yes.
 
 
 
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