Speaker: Robert Marks II

Thinking Outside the Materialist Box | Robert J. Marks II

The presumption of materialism lies at the root of much of today’s journalism and speculation about the future of artificial intelligence. Indeed, it has generated volumes and volumes of hype. A materialistic understanding of human abilities like consciousness, creativity, love, and freedom produce two corollary errors: an overestimation of the potential of algorithms and a downgrading of those qualities in humans. In this episode of Great Minds, Michael Medved discusses these inherent limitations of artificial intelligence and the prospects that AI will evolve into something like ourselves.

An Outside-the-box Mind

Robert Marks speaks with wisdom and humor about artificial intelligence and technology and directs the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence. He is Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University and an expert in the area of computational intelligence and neural networks. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Optical Society of America. He has authored, co-authored, or edited more than 400 publications, including over 160 journal articles and books published by Oxford University Press and MIT Press.


Show Notes

  • 01:30 | The Mind Matters podcast, hosted by Robert Marks
  • 02:25 | How would you define materialism, also know as naturalism?
  • 02:55 | The impact of materialistic ideology on the hype surrounding AI
  • 03:05 | How does the impact of materialism on AI relate to Darwinism?
  • 03:50 | The attempt to model or simulate evolution using computers
  • 04:40 | Algorithms such as AVIDA that purportedly simulate evolution
  • 06:28 | Can you upload something like human consciousness?
  • 07:45 | Can a machine have free will?
  • 08:50 | Silicon Valley’s vision of our human future as a “planetary zoo”
  • 10:25 | Could a computer answer questions about the existence of extraterrestrials?
  • 11:40 | Results are sometimes unexpected, but computers do what they’re told
  • 13:03 | Can a computer know something?
  • 14:10 | The effects of materialistic ideology on the hype that surrounds AI
  • 15:45 | A mistaken assumption of Yuval Harari
  • 16:25 | Can computers be programmed to love? Or care?
  • 18:00 | The importance of averting dangers in developing AI
  • 18:45 | Has anyone attempted to build an evolving computer?

More Resources

Animals, Computers, and Distinctly Human Intelligence | Robert J. Marks II

Human intelligence sits between fundamental, unbridgeable chasms on either side: animal and artificial intelligence. The capacity for creativity, for one thing, stands permanently outside the reach of algorithms. In a wide-ranging conversation, Robert Marks and Michael Medved tackle questions like what it means for something to be not just unknown but “unknowable.”

The Limits of Computation | Robert J. Marks II

Addressing one of today’s most acclaimed technological frontiers, Michael Medved and professor of electrical and computer engineering Robert Marks discuss the limits of artificial intelligence. They begin with definitions — What is a computer? What is an algorithm? — before tackling some pervasive media myths. Can a computer innovate or only imitate? Can computers now really do anything different from the Turing Machine, devised as a model by Alan Turing in the 1930s? Could a computer be programmed to interact with humans like the sinister HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey? The answer is yes, says Bob Marks, and whatever flaws such a machine displayed would be the faults inadvertently woven into it by its human programmers.