It turns out that DI is starting a new research center on Natural and Artificial Intelligence. It bears the name of a friend of mine, Walter Bradley, who will be one of the ASA Adam panelists: Announcing the ASA Workshop Panelists.
Get a glimpse tomorrow when Discovery Institute launches the new Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence with an event at the William Allen Theater at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. The launch itself is overbooked and we had to shut down registration. But good news! We’ll be live-streaming it right here, so you can join us online from 7:30 to 9:30 pm Pacific time.
I have had a split reaction to this, since I first heard about it from @pnelson.
On the one hand, it is great to see them extending beyond the anti-evolution drum they’ve been beating for 25 years. This is an area of high cultural significance, that everyone cares about, and its not clear what the future holds. Engaging the impact of this new technology on society, and participating in shaping how this done seems like a good thing for everyone to think about, including the Discovery Institute. There are far reach and deep set of questions arising at an increasing rate. High competence of the technical details may not be as necessary here, as this is going to be a large and far ranging discourse on values and the type of society we want to be. In contrast, origins science was a different sort of game all together. So it may be easy for many advocates to move into this new direction, even if they don’t have deep knowledge of the particulars yet.
This might be a really good direction for them.
It is my genuine hope that they will be good players in a new area, and perhaps might even be able to contribute important things here. Moving beyond the polemics of anti-evolutionism (see Which Irreducible Complexity Argument?), maybe they will find a less confrontational and more helpful voice here.
On the other hand, this direction brings them even more closely into my precise area of study! I’ve been solidly immersed in applying AI (e.g. machine learning / deep learning) to scientific problems at the biology-chemistry-medicine interface. If my hopes aren’t realized, there will be a whole new set of issues with which I’ll be dealing in relation to ID. To be clear, I’ve become friends with many people in the ID movement. I, nonetheless, have a complex relationship with them.
I’m hopeful this won’t further complicate everything. Though, I do admit, I might be too anxious here. I hope this represents a fresh start for them, where they can find a more constructive voice. That would be a good thing for everyone.