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The Christian Transhumanist Podcast

The Christian Transhumanist Podcast

Micah Redding and Amy Gaskin explore Christianity and Transhumanism, diving deep into the relationship between religion, technology, and the future of the human race.

Ep 35: David Deutsch & Humanity's Infinite Reach

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David Deutsch explains the physics of humanity’s profound place in the cosmos—and our potentially unlimited future.


Bio:

David Deutsch is an Oxford Physicist, a pioneer in the field of Quantum Computing, the founder of Constructor Theory, and the author of the books The Fabric of Reality, and The Beginning of Infinity.


Takeaways:

  • Humans occupy a profound place in the cosmos, because of our “special relationship with the laws of physics”
  • Human minds have reached a sort of escape velocity. There is nothing in the universe we cannot understand, and nothing that is possible in the universe that we cannot do.
  • This means there is no categorical difference between any of us—or between us and any alien species, or super-intelligent AI
  • We need a culture of problem-solving, not problem-avoidance
  • Knowledge confers power without limit


Relevant links, essays, and talks by David Deutsch:


How might religion engage with these ideas?


Pull-quotes:

“The one advantage that good has over evil…is that the bad guys are wrong” — David Deutsch (click to tweet!)

“Wayward teenagers are also AIs” — David Deutsch (click to tweet!)


Key concepts and definitions:

  • Knowledge is the defining characteristic of life
  • Explanatory knowledge is the defining characteristic of persons
  • Humans are the only persons we know of
  • Explanatory knowledge means:
    • We have a “special relationship with the laws of physics”
    • We have infinite reach
    • We can understand anything in the universe
    • We can do anything that is possible in the universe
    • We are the most significant phenomenon in the universe
  • The creation of new explanatory knowledge is what persons do
    • We don’t yet know how this works—which means Artificial Intelligence is a Philosophical Problem, not a technical one
    • Because humans are persons, with infinite reach, there is no categorical difference between us and any alien species, or future AI, no matter how intelligent
    • Human minds have reached a sort of escape velocity
    • Human Universality is a consequence of the theory of computation—and demonstrates that we have no fundamental limits, and that our biological differences are irrelevant
  • We need a culture of problem-solving, not problem-avoidance
    • We are guaranteed to have problems, but we can solve them.
    • Pursuing knowledge will not prevent problems, and will sometimes create them, but it is the only way for good to triumph.
    • “The one advantage that good has over evil…is that the bad guys are wrong” — David Deutsch
    • The pursuit of new knowledge is the one area where good has an advantage over evil. To stop the pursuit of knowledge is to sacrifice good’s one advantage.
  • “Traditions which stabilize change” are the paradoxical phenomenon necessary for ongoing progress, and must be “traditions of criticism”
    • The scientific revolution was one particular tradition of criticism, involving the pursuit of “good explanations”
      • “Good explanations” are explanations which are hard-to-vary
      • Micah’s maxim: “Truth is the thing that’s hard to shake”
      • The scientific process itself is subject to evolution and change
    • Democracy, and many other institutions which achieve ongoing progress, are other examples of traditions of criticism
      • The one criterion by which we judge political systems should be, does this make it more or less easy to remove bad policies, and bad leaders, without violence?
  • David Deutsch’s take on The Omega Point Theory and other cosmological models: One way or another, we have a virtually unlimited cosmological future
Ep 35: David Deutsch & Humanity's Infinite Reach
The Christian Transhumanist Podcast
Micah Redding & Amy Gaskin
2017-07-28
1:06:43