From: Robin Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 12:10:33 MST
The anchor that I start with is my rough estimate of how long whole brain emulation will take, and so I'm most interesting in comparing AGI to that anchor. The fact that people are prone to take these estimate questions as attitude surveys is all the more reason to seek concrete arguments, rather than yet more attitudes.
If you want to compare AGI *relative* to whole brain emulation - unanchoring the actual time and hence tossing any pretense of futuristic prophecy out the window - then that's a whole separate story.
I would begin by asking if there was ever, in the whole history of technology, a single case where someone *first* duplicated a desirable effect by emulating biology at a lower level of organization, without understanding the principles of that effect's production from that low level of organization.
Looking at history, we find two lessons:
1) Extremely mysterious-seeming desirable natural phenomena are eventually understood and duplicated by engineering;
2) Because they have ceased to be mysterious by the time they are duplicated, humans design them by engineering backward from the desired results, rather than by exactly emulating the lower levels of organization of a black box in Nature whose mysteriousness remains intact even as it is emulated.
Cars don't emulate horse biochemistry, sonar doesn't emulate bat biochemistry, compasses don't emulate pigeon biochemistry, suspension bridges don't emulate spider biochemistry, dams don't emulate beaver building techniques, and *certainly* none of these things emulate biology *without understanding why the resulting product works*.
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