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Marks: Non-Computable You Won’t Achieve Immortality Through an AI Machine

David Klinghoffer
Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff, via Flickr (cropped).

What aspects of human beings can’t be duplicated by a computer algorithm? Oh, just a few, including qualia (what life feels like), sentience, understanding, emotion, creativity, consciousness, and spirituality. Promoters of AI hype vaguely elide these, as Non-Computable You author Robert J. Marks made clear in a presentation at the recent Dallas Conference on Science and Faith. That’s up on YouTube now:

Marks, a distinguished computer engineer at Baylor University, is introduced by mathematician William Dembski, who had the privilege of introducing Dr. Marks himself to intelligent design. A “towering intellect,” as Dr. Dembski puts it, Marks has since becoming a leading thinker in the field.

What does the subject have to do with the intersection of science and faith? One upshot of the argument here is that dreams of achieving immortality by having your consciousness uploaded to an AI machine, merging man and computer in the predicted 2045 “Singularity,” are just that — dreams, never to be achieved. Computers, no matter how fast or futuristic, will only operate by algorithms. Professor Marks cites the Church-Turing Thesis, that “anything you can do on a computer today or a computer of the future could be done on Alan Turing’s original 1938 Turing machine.” What separates these machines is only speed. The computational method won’t change. The most exceptional things about us as humans are not algorithmic, that is, not computable. If immortality can be won, therefore, it will have to be by some other means. Marks believes that he knows what that other means must be. Watch and enjoy.