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<eyebeam><blast> Human=Computer

Personally, I'm very mistrustful of these equations between human and
computer. There are obviously connections, but they are a lot more
complicated (and a lot more interesting) than simply saying one equals
the other. Without wanting to get into a Foucault debate, I think the
reference to Foucault's idea of language as a paradigm for the human
condition as justification for the computer-human equation reveals the
limitations of structuralism in general: its tendency to ignore material
difference in favor of abstract similarity. I'm also not sure that
Foucault's idea of "discourse" is quite as simple as the more common
sense conception of an everyday language that we speak. My opinion is
that computers are a form of intelligence, one that has been abstracted
from certain very particular aspects of human intelligence, but which is
also quite different from the human sensibility considered as a whole.
Artifical intelligence may one day reach the point at which we class it
as conscious, but that consciousness will not be similar enough to human
consciousness for us to class machines as human. The brain is made of
very different "wires" and "bits" and "circuits" from machines: ignoring
that leads to science-fiction ideas of "downloading" human
consciousness, and ultimately to the kind of woolly holism you'll find
in a book like Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control," in which
computer=human=nature=capitalist economy, and we're all supposed to sit
back and watch the convergence. That's historical (and envrionmental)
ignorance; go back to the nineteenth century, you'll find that the
favored model for consciousness was that of the mechanical robot. The
bottom line is that we use our technologies to conceptualize our
consciousness; given that technologies are always changing, the idea
that there will ever be some kind of one-to-one fit is troublesome.
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