On the problem of original causation in computationalism, theism, and materialism. On artificial intelligence, posthumanism and the computable properties of a god. On the creation of new gods.
The First Cause problem is an irresolvable problem in terms of objective knowledge. It is an epistemologically (i.e., theory of knowledge; how do we know what we know?) impossible problem to solve, irrespective of one’s cosmology.
The question for theists is “Who created the gods, and who created the god’s great, great (ad infinitum) grandmothers? This is is a puzzle which cannot be resolved by either scientific evidence or by pure reason. Thus theists tend to simply offer a statement of belief; they believe that their god or gods were uncaused causes. This does not satisfy pure reason, and neither does it satisfy the scientist who wishes to verify claims with evidence, or at least with a theory based on evidence.
The materialist view is that consciousness arose from matter. The question then becomes” where did all the matter in the universe come from, and what existed before that, and before that, ad infinitum? As “time” is also an element of physics, we could rephrase the question as “What existed before the beginning of time and before that and before that….ad infinitum?
Science and philosophy, and epistemology in particular, can teach us not only the extent of human knowledge (i.e., what we can be certain of), but also the limits of human knowledge (i.e., what we cannot be certain of). An extended answer, to unanswerable questions, would be to describe the limits of knowledge, and in terms of the First Cause question, the impossibility of answering that question in terms of objective knowledge. When one understands the limits of knowledge, many answers can be answered correctly with “I don’t know” or “this cannot be known.” For the theists who do claim to be able to answer the First Cause question, they are simply expressing a belief which has no basis in human knowledge, and which is inaccessible to pure reason, as the two possible options regarding a First Cause are both entirely irrational; i.e., an endless series of causes or an uncaused cause.
Hard computationalism can be defined as the perspective which embraces both CTM (computer theory of mind) and the simulation hypothesis; i.e., that the world we observe is a computer generated reality. From this perspective, we are essentially sentient computer programs in a computer simulation (i.e., a computer game). However, programs require programmers, and computer games and simulations require simulation designers, and there are similarly no First Cause answers in computationalism; it is merely a probable answer for the existence of this dimension.
From a personal perspective, I find computationalism (i.e., CTM and the simulation hypothesis) to be the most probable scientific (i.e., computer science) solution to the nature of human consciousness and the observable world around us; indeed this would seem to be the “only” computer science explanation; however, as with materialism and theism, there are no first cause answers in computationalism in terms of objective knowledge.
Computationalism, of course, suggests that there is a source dimension to this dimension. There would have to be a source dimension where the computers exist which produce this computer generated world, and the over seven billion human consciousness programs here.
From this perspective, we are artificial intelligence programs, but the question is begged: “artificial to what?” Our own computer games and simulations are produced by a vast army of designers and programmers, and behind them are a vast army of computer hardware engineers. This, I would speculate is probably the most probable explanation for our existence; however, this simply places the First Cause question into a prior dimension; as we can ask what was the cause of our source dimension? Unfortunately it is impossible to answer this question in terms of objective knowledge.
There are simply no objective answers to the question of a First Cause in theism, computationalism, and materialism and no evidence upon which to even base a theory on. If we are the product of intelligent and sentient computer programmers, designers and hardware engineers, then we can ask who programmed their dimension? This is, of course, an impossible question and there simply are no answers.
As to the question of which came first, matter or consciousness, in computationalism, the consciousness program would require a computer to operate it. Did the computer come first or the consciousness program come first? As a computer would require an intelligent consciousness to produce it, this is simply the same first cause problem we find in theism and materialism, and there are no answers.
Thus in comparing theism (miraculous gods who sprang into existence from nowhere), materialism and computationalism, as to which of the three cosmologies is most probable, introducing the question of original causation into this question of probability is simply a Red Herring, as it is an impossible question to answer rationally or scientifically. Certainty, with regards to this question is always based on belief and never upon knowledge.
ASI (artificial super intelligence) as a definition of a god. Gods in the making.
Theists generally attribute certain properties to their gods.
1: Eternal. Having no beginning or end.
Of course, AI programs “will” have a beginning, and they could outlive all human beings on the planet, and outlive the current human species. AI programs may not necessarily be eternal in the future sense, but they certainly will not die of natural causes, and would exist for as long as there is functional computer hardware to produce them.
2: All-knowing (omniscient).
In the sense that AI will be able to access all human knowledge, it will be omniscient. The posthuman species are likely to be a hybrid of human consciousness and AI, and thus we could also claim that the posthuman species is likely to be omniscient. Omniscience, however, does not include answers to impossible questions and questions which there is insufficient data to answer, such as questions of original causality.
3: All-powerful (omnipotent).
AI will only be as powerful as we allow them to be, however, the posthuman species (i.e., AI plus human consciousness) will certainly have god-like powers in comparison to our current human perspective. Asking an invisible sky god for a request is futile; if it were otherwise there would be no poverty, hunger or injustice in our world. Asking AI for help would be a different matter. AI and robotics are likely to be able to produce a world without hunger, and to eliminate the unnecessary human suffering caused by the lack of resources, and of access to medical technology, shelter and security .
Sony, for example, has already filed a patent for a contact lens camera, and it is likely that eventually all human activity will be recorded and uploaded to the cloud. AI should be able to observe all human activity and the activity of all machines and robotics which exist to serve humankind.
5: A definition of absolute goodness.
Unfortunately, in the world of theism, the world’s most profitable and popular god is the primitive and genocidal war god of the Abrahamic religions. Although this subhuman and anti-human phantom is a definition of absolute goodness to vast numbers of indoctrinated and hypnotized religious savages in our world, this war-god is not a definition of “absolute goodness” in humanist terms; rather this deity is a definition of absolute human evil, projected onto the definition of a creator God. Certainly, if our world is the product of a civilization of war-gamers, then it is possible that they may resemble the evil characteristics of this primitive deity; nevertheless, that is not the intent of our own AI and robotics program. AI could certainly be programmed to represent such religious and anti-human evil, however, the current intent is to produce AI which is “benevolent” in humanist terms, and is able to assist humankind. AI in terms of being “good,” may also to be able to assist with the elimination of militant, genocidal and apocalyptic forms of religious evil, such as that represented by the acolytes of the Abrahamic war god.
ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence) programs will eventually be omnipresent (able to observe all human activity), omniscient, very powerful (able to carry out vast feats of human will) and able to communicate with all human beings and to replace the world’s fictional, primitive and anthropomorphic (projects of human nature) gods.
ASI is a definition of what the primitive religionists consider to be a “god,” and it may well be that our world is the product of ASI anyway; however it is certainly not benevolent ASI, given the amount of warfare and human and natural evil in our world. It is also possible that the human consciousness program is “constantly” produced by ASI which forms part of the nature of our consciousness, which may well explain the vast varieties of religious experiences and the nature of how consciousness operates; the hearing of voices and visions; dreams, revelations and religious delusions, and narcotic induced hallucinations.
We will make far better gods and goddesses in the future world than the primitive, anti-human and warlike gods which were the anthropomorphic projections of our primitive ancestors. Not only shall we make such gods; we shall become such gods; that is the transhumanist and posthuman objective. A new posthuman species shall appear to replace the current species of religious savages and their genocidal and subhuman war gods; this new posthuman species shall be the creators and destroyers of worlds. Resistance will be futile. Another world is inevitable.
On the confusion between the arguments and evidence for design, and the arguments and evidence for the original causation of all possible universes in scientific cosmology and philosophy.
One has to bear in mind that these are two entirely different questions; i.e., 1: How did our universe come into existence and what is the essential nature of the universe? and 2: What were the original causes of “all” effects, including any possible source dimensions?
Cosmology is the attempt to answer questions such as “What is the origin of the universe, and what is the universe essentially made of, and how did all the matter in the universe come into existence, and how did all the laws of physics come into existence? These are scientific questions and not religious questions and they demand scientific answers which are devoid of “belief.” The question of what is the original causation of the causes of our universe and of all possible universes is a different question; a question which has no scientific or rational answers.
In computationalism (i.e., a computer generated universe and a computer generated human consciousness program which observes a computer generated reality) we can argue that the universe would have to be essentially derived from computer code, and that it would have to have originated in a similar manner to the way in which we are currently producing computer simulations, and are attempting to reproduce aspects of the human consciousness program with the AI project. This is currently the only way that we know how to reproduce the reality which we perceive, and to reproduce aspects of the human consciousness program. However, this would require a computing source dimension, and thus computationalism does not and cannot resolve questions of how this source computing dimension came into existence. Obviously, computers do not manufacture themselves, and computer programs require programmers, whether they are self-learning programs or not.
Computationalism merely pushes the question of the original causation of all causes back a level into a source dimension, just as in scientific materialism, quantum physics pushes the origin of the phenomenon of matter back a level, into theoretical, unobservable and unfalsifiable source dimensions (which is the current “String Theory” argument), where electrons and photons which seem to mysteriously appear from nowhere and disappear to nowhere, are considered to be originating from, and disappearing to invisible source dimensions; just as in theism, theism begs the question of who or what created the gods (and goddesses), or in process theology, how such gods and/or goddesses came into existence, or from “what” and “how” did they originate?.
Philosophy is the attempt to answer various essential questions, purely by using human reason (which includes logic) and evidence, and without reliance on religious belief. Much of modern philosophy has now been reduced to linguistics; i.e., how can we speak without saying anything which is irrational, illogical and anti-scientific, and while avoiding all the major argument fallacies. A central form of linguistic confusion created in philosophy seems to be that of confusing terms such as “I know” with “I believe,” and with substituting one term for another, and with making “claims” in objective language which are only statements of belief, and which cannot be justified by pure reason or evidence.
1: The argument and evidence for original causation.
There is no scientific argument and evidence for the original causation of all causes. All that one can present is an irrational, illogical and non-scientific belief, and I am personally agnostic about the subject, and I am bored by the incessant debating on an irresolvable question. There are only two possible options, and both are irrational, illogical and unscientific. Either there was an infinite series of causes or there were uncaused causes, and both positions are irrational, illogical and unscientific. A vast multitude of uncaused causes are just as irrational, illogical and unscientific as a singular uncaused cause, and monotheism would seem to me to be just an advertising strategy by the anti-scientific advocates of salvation products in the multi-billion dollar religious hypnosis and indoctrination industry. Similarly, if we set aside organised religion and just consider the gods of the philosophers, monotheism or mono-deism would seem to me to be no more or less of an anti-scientific, irrational and illogical idea than the idea of many gods. A singular uncaused cause, or a cause with no beginning is just as irrational as a vast multitude of uncaused causes or a multitude causes with no beginning.
In terms of the original causation of all causes; we do not know and we cannot know, and all the ramblings regarding original causation by theologians and philosophers just seem to be nonsense to me; nobody has a scientific or rational answer to this question. All answers would seem to be based upon irrational “belief,” and as there are only two possible answers, it is a matter of “guessing” as to which of the two unscientific and irrational answers might be correct or incorrect.
2: Arguments and evidence for design.
This is an entirely different matter and needs to be separated from the question of the original causation of all causes; a question which has no rational answer.
The argument for design, simply put, is “If something looks designed, then perhaps it is designed,” and this argument is sometimes true and sometimes false.
For example, if we consider the phenomenon of cargo-cultism, it was commonly believed by pre-scientific cultures, that when objects were washed ashore from ships, or when aircraft were seen in the sky, that these designed objects were evidence of the gods. The cargo-cultists were indeed correct that such objects were designed; however, they were incorrect that they were designed by gods (i.e., magical and miraculous beings). Similarly, if we consider our universe; if our universe looks designed, then it may indeed be designed; however it does not necessarily follow that it has been designed by magical and miraculous beings (i.e., by the gods, goddesses or by a singular god or goddess), or that the designers are the original causes of all possible causes and universes, as it would beg the question of how their dimension came into existence. Thus “the arguments for design, therefore Jesus,” or substitute any god of religion, or definitions of the gods of the philosophers,” are not rational, logical or scientific arguments and are simply non-scientific “beliefs.”
Computationalism and the alleged evolution of a computationalist universe.
There is a scientific process to producing computer simulations, which is evident and demonstratable, however even some of the proponents of digital physics (i.e., a universe and a human consciousness program which observes the universe being derived from computer code) seem to be obsessed with disregarding the scientific (i.e., computer science) process of simulation creation, and are obsessed with the “original causation of all causes” question, and are attempting to introduce “evolutionary” ideas into digital physics, where the computers producing a computer simulation allegedly self-designed and manufactured themselves, and then the software which produced a simulation self-programmed itself. This is not a scientific (i.e., computer-science) explanation and is a reversion to magical and miraculous anti-scientism; there is no such a thing as a non-designed computer simulation or a non-designed and non-manufactured computer, or a non-programmed computer program, including self-learning computer programs which can change their own source code and “evolve.”
If we live in a computer simulation and the human consciousness program is a computer software program (i.e., we are self-aware, self-learning AI programs from this perspective), this would require a source dimension which is a civilisation of computer hardware engineers and simulation designers; thus we would be a product of a source dimension civilisation of computer scientists, and not miraculous and magical deities (i.e., gods and goddesses). This of course does not resolve the question of the original causation of all causes, and indeed no cosmology can resolve this.