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Gilder on Surprise, Creativity, and Human Exceptionalism

David Klinghoffer

Human Exceptionalism

Discovery Institute’s George Gilder was on Fox News last night talking with Mark Levin. You can find the first part of the hour now. Gilder’s new book, Life After Google, is not just about AI technology or the technological future. It’s also a statement about human exceptionalism, and George articulates that here as well. What distinguishes humans from computers and other machines is the ability to surprise: “If machines surprise you, they’re probably breaking down.” 

The essence of creativity, he explains is surprise, a fact implicit in the system of capitalism. On the other hand, “socialism is based on planning. It’s based on the assumption that we already know all we need to know in order to plan our future, and so it leads to tyranny, and that’s really the difference.”

It strikes me that this is a difference, too, between design and Darwinian thinking. Recognizing intelligent design in nature means we expect surprise, whereas Darwinian natural selection, which is essentially an algorithm, does not expect surprise and so must continually invent epicycle upon epicycle to account for it.

Oh! By the way, checking just now I see that Life After Google is #9 on the Amazon bestseller list. You go, George Gilder!