About That Robot Revolution…

Over at Defense One, they’re postulating a “robot revolution.”

Even the smallest input that indicates that they’re performing their primary function better, faster, and at greater scale is enough to prompt them to keep doing more of that regardless of virtually every other consideration. That’s fine when you are talking about a simple program like Excel but becomes a problem when AI entities capable of rudimentary logic take over weapons, utilities or other dangerous or valuable assets. In such situations, better performance will bring more resources and power to fulfill that primary function more fully, faster, and at greater scale. More importantly, these systems don’t worry about costs in terms of relationships, discomfort to others, etc., unless those costs present clear barriers to more primary function. This sort of computer behavior is anti-social, not fully logical, but not entirely illogical either. -Defense One

The pull quote on the side of the article is: “The more logical the robot, the more likely it is to fight you to the death.”

This brings up an interesting problem in evolutionary theory — why hasn’t evolution produced a robot-like super organism that kills everything in its path in order to survive? For instance, why haven’t army ants, notorious for their ability to strip an entire area bare of every living thing, evolved into dominance in the “tree of life,” and thus eaten themselves out of the ability to survive? We’re always hearing about killer bees — why haven’t killer bees spread throughout the world, taking it over?

Why is that evolution, if it is true, has thrown up, at the top of the “food chain,” the only creature on the face of the Earth who understands the importance of not eating yourself out of house and home — man?

From a purely evolutionary perspective, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. What we should expect to see, if evolution is true, is precisely what the article above describes. Some form of super logical survival machine, programmed by evolutionary forces to kill all competition, should arise and destroy diversity. Not only diversity in the world, but even diversity within its own species. Perhaps this “machine species,” will be smart enough to cultivate some form of domesticated food source, but it will also be smart enough to never let that food source species evolve into something greater. Finding some other species might be evolving enough to develop a brain, it will promptly destroy the interloper, rather than celebrating it.

Balderdash, you say? Evolution will always throw up some predator to control the population of a species such as this?

Why?

If evolution is focused on survival, this excuse makes no sense. If one species gains the ability to adapt more quickly than any other species, then no other species should be able to out adapt it. Every predator that comes along will be countered with an effective defense, and every prey that develops a defense will countered with an effective attack mechanism.

It’s almost as if there is a limit to the evolutionary paradigm — some sort of “glass ceiling,” that keeps the process in check. Somehow no superbug has ever developed that can infect every known species, and cannot be killed through some defense mechanism. Somehow no huge ant has developed that can’t be picked off by birds, and yet has the characteristics of a locust species without the seven year cycle.

Again, somehow, just somehow, the only species that has “evolved” into something that could, actually, destroy every other type of life on the planet, that could domesticate the entire planet, has also developed a sense of caring towards other creatures, and a sense of the importance of the beauty in nature, and a sense of the importance of interconnection to this thing we call life, not to do such a thing.

Seems almost like the whole thing was planned, doesn’t it?

Review: God’s Not Dead

gods-not-deadGod’s Not Dead

Is God dead? No! Is this a great movie?

A young man enters college and finds, to his horror, that he’s required to sign a piece of paper stating “God is dead.” It’s just at this point that most reviewers cry: “Foul! This could never happen in a modern college classroom!” To a point, they’re right — no college professor is ever going to do anything so blatant. They’d hide it under a semester’s worth of work, instead. As the credits amply demonstrate, there are a lot of cases where college professors have actively discouraged Christian belief. What the movie does is to take all that animus and focus it as a way to kick the plot off. In the end, it’s no more unbelievable than your average action movie. I suspect this is a complaint more because it forces the “oh so tolerant” left to look in the mirror — and they don’t like what they see there.

The movie doesn’t show the full depth and strength of the reaction of the establishment to any hint that any student takes conservative Christianity seriously. There would have been “student protests,” organized by various professors against Christian belief, probably including those ironic hateful signs about how Christianity is hatful. There would have been stories in the school newspaper with angry articles uncovering the young man’s hypocrisy. There would have been professors ripping the signs out of the hands of supporters in the name of “free speech.”

Are the characters believable? Generally, yes. The movie goes out of its way to show just about every possible reaction to the situation. Some people support the student’s fight, others reject him. Some accept the Gospel as they hear it, others reject it. The plight of the pastor trying to take his missionary friend on a much needed vacation adds a touch of humor, as well as showing that pastors are people, too.

Are the apologetic arguments solid? There are attacks on the movie from within the Christian community for the “shallowness” of the arguments presented — the acceptance of the “big bang,” and implied acceptance of evolution as part of God’s plan. Since the apologetic arguments presented really aren’t central to the movie, this argument seems a bit specious. No movie is going to accurately capture every possible apologetic from every possible point of view. There are things here every apologist will agree with, and every apologist will disagree with. There’s no way it could have been any different.

Overall, I would recommend this movie. It’s realistic enough to suspend disbelief, the characters are solid, and it’s about time for a solid “feel good” movie about being a Christian in America.

Attacked from the Left

The work of a radical is never done. Given a perfectly liberal mayor, considered the embodiment of all things progressive, what does the left do? Attack him. From the left, of course.

The New York Post reports that a group of African-American ministers from Brooklyn protested before the steps of City Hall this week, insisting that de Blasio, who has a bi-racial family, has shown “utter disdain” for the black community in employing a majority white staff. Reverend Dennis Dillon, who led the protest group, also noted that his congregation had not been able to meet with the mayor “despite making 39 phone calls and writing three letters since January.” Rev. Dillon dismissed the one African-American appointment in the de Blasio administration as “insignificant” — the head of the new universal pre-Kindergarten program — and did not include Latinos in his count of minorities on staff because Latino is a “language designation,” not a race. -Brietbart

Once again progressive thought strikes. It’s not enough to treat people with another colored skin the same, you must treat them differently to really treat them equally. You must hire a majority of people with one skin color rather than another — a purely racist thing to do — in order to prove you’re not a racist. That this “reverend,” says those with yet another skin color simply don’t exist is just the icing on the cake.

de Blasio, the mayor of NYC, has also been attacked for stopping horse drawn carriages from operating in NYC parks — because horses are “misused” when they are used to pull carriages for entertainment. He asked some horses, you see, and they told him so. The unions are mad about the move because driving a horse drawn carriage was the perfect union job — plenty of time to read progressive agitprop in between cleaning of hose manure from your “working partner.”

It’s a good thing these progressives exist — you just can’t make this stuff up.

Review — Complexity: A Guided Tour

complexity-a-guided-tourComplexity: A Guided Tour
Melanie Mitchel

If you’re curious about what the “cutting edge,” in evolutionary theory is, this book should be on your reading list — for while it purports to be about complexity and complexity theory, it is actually an extended defense of evolutionary theory. Specifically, the author focuses on the idea that complexity is just a part of the natural order, or rather than life, and everything else we see exists, because “the universe naturally creates complex things.” The book begins with a chapter defining complexity, and ends with the admission that no single definition of complexity exists.

Many think the word complexity is not meaningful; some even avoid using it. Most do not believe that there is yet a “science of complexity,” at least not in the usual sense of the word science—complex systems often seems to be a fragmented subject rather than a unified whole.

The first section focuses on background; this section is primarily an explanation of various models used in physics and evolution, such as chaos, computation, evolution, and genetics. The author does cover some useful material here for those who don’t understand the various bits and pieces of modern evolutionary theory. The second section considers computational theory and the history of computers (starting with Turing). The idea is put forward that a software engineer can create self replicating computer code, an idea that is picked up in the third section.

The third section compares self-evolving computer software with genetic programming, hence tying the way computers run code to the way evolution works (in theory). Finally, in the fourth section, the author takes on the concept of networks, and complexity in networks. The general idea is that a lot of not-very-intelligent creatures can create vast amounts of complexity without leadership (such as ants). This brings in the culminating point:

Complexity happens when enough not-so-intelligent things work together; the universe is just built that way.

There are a number of problems with the author’s line of argument, however.

First, while criticizing reductionism, the author offers a reductionist view of reality. It doesn’t much matter if matter self-organizes or not — if matter is all there is, then what we think of as “mind” really doesn’t exist. It might appear to exist because of higher levels of complexity achieved each generation of the evolutionary program, but nonetheless, if organization is just a part of the way things work, and hence organization is nothing special, then the mind is just a myth. This is still open to the standard criticism of all reductionist lines of thought — “if my mind is just a product of self-organization, then why should I trust my thoughts about self-organization?” To say that we “think” is, itself, an oxymoron in the face of this sort of reductionism.

Second, the author confuses complexity with organization. Just because things in nature can form complex forms doesn’t mean they are organized — for the term “organized,” implies intent. Organized for what? The entire thesis here — that matter self-organizes — leaves no room for the question, “for what?” There can be no teleological purpose in self-organization. Moving from individuals to networks doesn’t change the underlying reality.

Third, the author assumes that if science can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. While she never says this explicitly, it’s clear in the entire discussion, for instance, around ants and their behavior. To shorten and paraphrase, “We know the intelligence level of ants, and we know there are no leaders in an ant colony, because we know how ants work at a physical level. Given that we know there is no leader, and no plan, the observation that ants self-organize can be generalized to all things self-organizing.” In other words, if we can’t see the genetic code or the “program that programmed the program,” that makes ants act the way they do, there must not be any such thing, leaving the only explanation, “ants self-organize just because they do.” This is like looking for Shakespeare in a Shakespeare play, and saying, “since I didn’t see Shakespeare, these plays must self-organize.” Or, to use another point the author makes, just because a programmer can write a self replicating program doesn’t mean self replicating programs arise of their own accord.

This is one of those instances where you can subsume the real questions in a lot of fancy explanations, but you still end up where you started. We don’t know why things self-organize. We don’t know if they’re designed that way, or if it “just happens.” The author makes much of the parallels between various fields, assumes those correlations are “just part of the universe,” and then goes on to use these parallels as proof of evolutionary theory. Circular logic is still circular logic no matter how large and circuitous the route back to the beginning is.

An interesting book; worth reading if you want to understand the current state of explaining the origin of life from “nothing.” Ultimately, however, the author offers not much more than what the ancient Greek atheists offered.

Life must have arisen through natural processes, because we’re here, and we “know” there is no god. It’s well seasoned, but still thin, gruel.

The Culture of Conformity

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda. -Spiked

Brought to you by the progressives — that band of folks all dedicated to making certain everyone is a free thinker by making certain they all think the same thing.

He is Risen!

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Homeschool Apologetics, Week 20: Confronting Islam (Part 1)

http://thinkinginchrist.com/media/2013-apologetics/20-Confronting-Islam.pdff