Of Apes and Artificial Minds: What Does it Mean to be Human?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

This coming October I will be giving an invited lecture at Hong Kong University at the Faith and Science Collaborative Research Forum (http://faithandscience.hku.hk). There will be satellite talks on my scientific work, and also on the Genealogical Adam with @Andrew_Loke.

Of Apes and Artificial Minds: What Does it Mean to be Human?

One of the grand questions of all great art, literature, and philosophy: what does it meant to be human? This is a central question in science and also in theology. These two views of the world seem to present contrasting pictures. Are we similar with the other animals, or are we different? Are we exceptional creatures or rather unremarkable? Scientists teach we are just like the other animals, with 98% similar to chimpanzees. Theologians teach we are of the Image of God. A full telling of both, however, reveals the paradox of the human condition. Theologians teach that we were made with the “breadth of God,” but we are also “of the dust.” Scientists teach that we are genetically modified apes, but we are also more than just apes. Far from a settled question, new challenges are arising with artificial intelligence. Someday, the paradox of exceptionality might extend to the artificial minds that we ourselves create. Facing the hope and risks of new technology, both science and theology call us to remember our origins as we contemplate the future. For better and for worse, we have been reshaping ourselves and our world for millennium. In a changing world of technological world, the ancient questions are just as relevant now as they ever were.

This talk will more coherently develop many of the ideas I’ve put out in Veritas Forums in the past (Veritas Forums the Week Dad Died (January 2018)). In particular, I encourage the curious to look at this article, which is central to the story I’m putting forward here.

This is a significant talk for many reasons. China is rising in the science, and might even outpace the United States this year in funding for research. For all our focus on the North American context, the asian scientific world is rising.

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St. Louis CMA Retreat in 2019
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #4

Giving this talk on Monday at HKU. @Rneely, this might draw some of the same crowd, but is more solidly in my pocket.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #10

Here is the poster of the event. Pretty cool I must say. I’m looking forward to posting the video when it becomes available. The introduction by Dr. Chau was priceless.

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That’s the character, Winston, from the Overwatch video game…

(Dan Eastwood) #13

Grodd? :slight_smile:

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

I’ve just added the video to the main post. I’m curious to hear the forums response. Thanks again @rcohlers for having me out to visit. Thank you too @Andrew_Loke for doing an event with me too.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) pinned globally #16
(Andrew Loke) #17

Thank you too Josh it was really great to have you!

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(Clinton Ohlers) #19

It was a great trip! Very productive and well received. I hope we will be able to have you back in Hong Kong again.

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