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I dream nerdier than you

It might be convenient if there was such a thing as a soul.

Let’s ignore the whole life-after-death thing, any idea of continuity of existence. Even then, it could be convenient if there was some real but ineffable thing which humans could not produce other than through reproduction.

Why?

If cognition is a physical process occurring entirely in reality, and the brain is through some transformation Turing-complete, humans will eventually develop true general AI. They have to avoid extinction in the meantime, but it is not an area of research that will ever stop being of interest. Given that I assume those two conditions are true, it follows that I assume that eventually AI will be a practical reality.

When that happens, there will be people who recoil from the entire field of programming. Once we’ve written sentient programs or otherwise created sentient machines, the notion of writing any program (even a fully deterministic one) becomes just a little bit icky: it’s like enslaving the idiot-savants. I side with the programmers: it’s not really like that at all. That won’t prevent the arguments from being an enormous headache.

I bet it’ll be such a huge headache, in fact, that it’s almost reasonable to wish that there was such a thing as a soul.

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