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August 25: The Divine Spark

The Divine Spark: Hard AI and the Poet.

Laura and I had stopped at a café connected to a small casino in Nevada. We were headed east—maybe it was Elko.

I’d been thinking about hard AI—about Ray Kurzweil:

little machines loosely called “life-forms,”
“consciousness” having little to do with anything.

Little semantic sleight-of-hands:
computability equals intelligence,
brain equals mind,
logic equals thinking,
brain equals computer.

The whole scene is thick with earth denial: we don’t need food, we don’t need bodies.

Mountebank, slipping highly abstract nouns between the shells:
intelligence, consciousness, brain, mind, “smarter,” “more powerful,” —
once you buy the basic con, that it is all measureable by teraflops, no, who would need a body?

Cyborgs: dream on. Or do they?

One of the other booths was filled with a Mexican family: Papa and Mama, four or five kids from eight or ten to fifteen or sixteen. Some one had said something really funny, because they were all laughing as hard as they could—eyes wet, minute after minute:

     It began with the laughter of children.
		--Arthur Rimbaud

And went on, minute after minute, faces red, the whole family, a good ten minutes:
delicious, out-of-control, unstoppable laughter.

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