Ask A Genius 445 – Paths of Increasing Order (2)
November 16, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How can that argument be misinterpreted or misused?
Rick Rosner: One of the greatest philosophical cottage industries has been being wrong about consciousness. It is easy to make category errors. The category error is one of the most fruitful areas of doing jokes.
We should talk about category errors in joke-making. You are talking about one thing but then it turns out that you’re talking about another thing. I should be sitting in front of Twitter looking for some of these.
It is hard to talk about evolution without teleological language or biases slipping in. Because the deal is evolution doesn’t want anything. It doesn’t have a purpose. Evolution exploits niches in the world.
For instance, there is a niche or set of niches biased towards the formation of visual receptors. It turns out that it is relatively easy to evolve eyes. So, eyes have evolved a gazillion times over evolutionary history.
When you discuss stuff like that, it is often easy shorthand to say stuff like, “Evolution likes eyes,” or, “Evolution is biased towards eyes,” which, if you’re not careful, assigns purpose to evolution.
I assume, similarly, if you’re not careful about talking about information processing that is at a high enough level to be considered conscious to avoid certain mysticisms sneaking in, I don’t know.
To reiterate, we have a lot of questions as to why increasing order in the universe tends to generate little individual information processors. This becomes more about questions than about answers.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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