The Simulation Hypothesis: an economical twist (part 1 of 2)

The Simulation Hypothesis: an economical twist (part 1 of 2)

Are we living in the Matrix? Are we living in the Matrix? This question seems futuristic, a theme from a science fiction movie. (Which of course it is.)  But the best science fiction is philosophy in fancy dress, and philosophers have been asking the question since at least the ancient Greeks. The question generated considerable interest in June this year when Elon Musk said the chance that we live in a “base reality” was “one in billions”. But as long ago as 380 BC, when the Greek philosopher Plato wrote “The Republic”, he included the Allegory of the Cave, which argued...

The Hawking Recursion*

A couple of years ago Stephen Hawking told us that (general) AI is coming, and it will either be the best or the worst thing to happen to humanity.  His comments owed a lot to Nick Bostrom's seminal book "Superintelligence" and also to Professor Stuart Russell.  They kicked off a series of remarks by the Three Wise Men (Hawking, Musk and Gates), which collectively did so much to alert thinking people everywhere to the dramatic progress of AI.  They were important comments, and IMHO they were r Journalists are busy people, good news is no news, and if it bleeds it leads.  For a year...
Book review: “Homo Deus” by Yuval Harari, (part 3 of 3)

Book review: “Homo Deus” by Yuval Harari, (part 3 of 3)

Week Three: Extreme Algocracy In the first third of Homo Deus, Harari claims that humanity has more-or-less conquered its traditional enemies of famine, plague and war, and has moved on to chasing immortality, happiness and divinity. He also urged us all to become vegetarian, if only to make us less contemptible in the eyes of a future superintelligence. In the second third of the book he offers a surprisingly cursory review of the two singularities – the economic and the technological. He seems to assume that most people already know about them, or at least won’t need much persuading to...
Book review: “Homo Deus” by Yuval Harari, (part 2 of 3)

Book review: “Homo Deus” by Yuval Harari, (part 2 of 3)

Week two: the two Singularities In the first third of his new book, Yuval Harari described how humanity escaped its perennial evils of famine, plague and war, and he claimed that we are now striving for immortality, happiness and divinity.  Now he enters the territory of the economic and the technological singularities.  Read on... Free will is an illusion Harari begins this section by attacking our strong intuitive belief that we are all unitary, self-directing persons, possessing free will. “To the best of our scientific understanding, determinism and randomness have divided the entire cake between them, leaving not even a crumb for ‘freedom’. … The...
Book review: "Homo Deus" by Yuval Harari

Book review: "Homo Deus" by Yuval Harari

Week One: ending famine, plague and war… Clear and direct Yuval Harari’s book “Sapiens” was a richly deserved success. Full of intriguing ideas which were often both original and convincing, its prose style is clear and direct – a pleasure to read.* His latest book, “Homo Deus” shares these characteristics, but personally, I found the first half dragged a little, and some of the arguments and assumptions left me unconvinced. I’m glad that I persevered, however: towards the end he produces a fascinating and important suggestion about the impact of AI on future humans. Because Harari’s writing is so crisp,...