The hopes and fears surrounding the advent of artificial intelligence are fantastical, from Ray Kurzweil’s promise of spiritual machines to Elon Musk’s warnings of killer robots. And yes, some version of that future is barreling toward us at an ever-increasing speed, says philosophy of technology professor Michael Zimmerman, who is Jeff’s guest today.
These days, discourse about intelligent robots—thinking machines—is as widespread as discourse about zombies. Both have been the subjects of recent bestsellers, which are the basis of two forthcoming films. Popular culture’s depiction of humankind under attack by either the undead or by the never alive (autonomous machines) suggests widespread anxiety about and fascination with technical developments that may generate a future out of human control (as if the future ever were under our control!)
Although the apparent confirmation of the Higgs Boson, the so-called God particle, has been attracting attention recently, the most vexing problem in science and philosophy remains the mind-body problem: What relation is there between material brain states and conscious, first-person experience? In the past few years, as we shall see in a moment, some neurosciences have now arrived at an answer that was anticipated by Ken Wilber’s version of integral theory.
The problem of climate change is so big, so complex, and so politicized, it is almost impossible to know what to think about it, let alone what to do. Michael Zimmerman, co-author of Integral Ecology, helps cut through the partiality and propaganda that are so rampant on both sides of the argument, offering a more sober perspective on the current status of the climate change debate.