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Passions in Poetry

Computers, Poetry, and Humanity

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fractal007
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since 06-01-2000
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0 posted 04-06-2001 05:03 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

This is in regards to Brad's recommendation that we should start to discuss Allan's joke[well, the implications of it] here in Philosophy 101.

What does everybody think?

Should we have computers that interpret and scan and analyze poetry for humans who cannot[or more likely don't want to be bothered to try] understand it themselves?

I apologize if I come off with the "us and them" idea there, with the "don't want to be bothered to try" to understand poetry bit, but really, does anyone think that having a computer turn something that is much more beautiful, namely poetry, into nothing more than some computer algorithm somewhere?

"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

Ron
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1 posted 04-06-2001 08:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

[devil's advocate]

Substitute the word "college professor" for "computer" in that paragraph and see if the tenor doesn't change just a bit…

[/devil's advocate]


Dopey Dope
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2 posted 04-07-2001 01:27 PM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

Frankly, I am offended when people say that computer technology will replace that of human intelligence. When did humans get so lazy that we just had to make machines start to think for us. Is it not true that out of the 100% brain capacity for knowledge we only use 10....it was either 10  or 1%....not sure but regardless of the two it's still quite a small number for the unimaginable abilities our mind has in store, yet unfound by us at the moment.
We're so stuck on trying to improve OTHER forms of thought, this being artificial intelligence, that we can't sit down and figure out how to improve our minds.
I mean, sure, there are people who just love philosophy and that's amazing. People who sit down and take the time to understand life and the ways of the mind, or at least try to, but I am offended when people infer that a computer will just take over everything and leave me in the dust.
What then people?
If a computer decides to read the poetry FOR ME what will *I* do? What would have my life been served for if I can't enjoy my own interpretation of a poem even if it may be the wrong one? What would I be writing for by knowing a computer would be the one making the interpretation?
ANyhow, do you really think a computer can delve within  MY, or any other poet's symbolism? Within our mind's?
The computer would be able to make its own interpretation and define a few difficult words here and there, but in no way would it be able to comprehend the purpose of our poem's.

Any thoughts?
I'm VERY VERY VERY interested in hearing them  



I was born myself, raised myself, and will continue to be myself. The world will just have to adjust.

I'm in love with my shadow
I admire it daily

[This message has been edited by Dopey_Dope (edited 04-07-2001).]

fractal007
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3 posted 04-07-2001 04:53 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Dopey:

Actually, the idea that we only use 10% of our brains is a myth.  It started when a scientist said that we only use 10% of our brains for functions such as keeping ourselves alive and performing regular things like eating.  The rest is devoted to reason and so on and so forth.

I like your train of thought.  I guess the thing that bugs me about AI is the overall reductionism that is likely to be employed in creating it.  IE, emotion can be broken down to a part of the brain which can be broken down to some neurons, and ultimately it's just some cellular thing with no intrinsic value, making just about anything humans do other than propagating their genes into an idle waste of time.  

I frankly think that AI used to replace anything that is inherently human[ie reading/writing poetry and art and so on] is both degrading to the human value of these things, and also, as you've said, a very lazy thing to do, showing that humans just don't care.  So, ultimately, the question we should ask, in the event that a hypothetical poetry reading machine were invented, is "why do we need it?" or more appropriately, "do we need it?"

Just a side note, because I know I'll get this from some people:

I'm not condemning scientific investigation.  I am just condemning the idea that science can be used alone as an explanation to why things are here and why this and why that.  Science, in my books, is the technical explanation of how things got here, not why they're here.  It's possible that there is no meaning to life, but it's also possible that life is the quest to find meaning and happiness.  But a scientific investigation is not what we need to find the meaning of life.  A scientific investigation is what we need to figure out how life works.



"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

[This message has been edited by fractal007 (edited 04-07-2001).]

Stephanos
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4 posted 04-08-2001 12:15 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Computers may end up being able to do a few functions of this sort well. . . such as scansion of meter, identification of fixed forms,  and the like.  Interpretation, I don't see how, but hey... computers have come a long way, who knows.  But remember that anything a computer puts out was put in by a person or persons.  
Could computers ever replace human analysis of poetry?  I think never.  Poetry's greatest element (in my opinion) is the non-technical aspect which is able to affect the emotions.  . . . (I'm not at all saying that this is ever independent from the technical aspect, it rather works through it).  Computers are void of emotions... any such thing they express will be pseudo emotions, like painted on faces... really expressing some second hand emotions of their programmers.

But one thing for certain, a computer will never be able to truly enjoy poetry.  This privilege is ours exclusively!

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 04-08-2001).]

Dopey Dope
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5 posted 04-08-2001 12:47 AM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

Well Said frac and Stephan......

I agree stephan that it is our exclusive privilege....

Like I said before....computers will just never be able to do certain human things. It is what seperates us from other specie, and especially machines. I believe that the day a computer can feel and think for itself is the day the human race would have created it's number one enemy, and risk being completely killed off from the planet by these machines. Of course that is worse case scenario if the computers decide to rebel against us, and most likely they will because we as humans tend to be control freaks. would we let something WE created to dominate us or be looked upon as equals? I think not.
Anyhow....bad idea....computers performing the deepest of human activities such as interpreting poetry and so on could never work out or be useful. It's only a creation to disrupt what we as writers created in the first place, the poem....and kills of the individual interpretation of each reader. which defies poetry completely....

I was born myself, raised myself, and will continue to be myself. The world will just have to adjust.

I'm in love with my shadow
I admire it daily

Ron
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6 posted 04-08-2001 12:53 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The history of science, short though it is, makes one thing pretty clear. If someone tells you it can be done, they might be right. If someone tells you it can't be done, they're almost certainly wrong.

quote:
But remember that anything a computer puts out was put in by a person or persons.


Yup. But the same is true of you and I, except we call it genetics. Nor should we assume artificial intelligence will be incapable of emotion, which is biologically a chemical feedback mechanism. An electronic feedback mechanism may be capable of very similar "feelings." But even then, is it really necessary to experience an emotion to analyze an author's interpretation of it?

Stephanos
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7 posted 04-08-2001 09:21 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

Yes there is a chemical/ physiological aspect to emotions, but there is more to it.  The reducing of our emotions to mere chemical process only cheapens them in my opinion.  There is a spiritual aspect to our consciousness and emotions, else love would mean no more than the chemical processes which digest a cheeseburger in our bellies.  

But aside from the spiritual, I see no way that a computer could ever be independently conscious as we are as humans.  A computer will always require  intentful human programming, much different than depositing DNA which has little to do with our concious directives.  DNA has the code of life built in itself and was not built by us.  So any "life" we would create would merely be expressions of our own lives, not a new life.  What humankind has created thus far in history has only mimicked life.  But life itself is such a miraculous thing, that it stands as a divine prerogative.  You may disagree.  But we'll just have to wait and see, it hasn't happened yet.   Artificial life...yes.  Biological life...no.
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


8 posted 04-09-2001 01:00 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

What is human value and why is it important?

I'm back!  

Brad
Ron
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9 posted 04-09-2001 02:46 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Yes there is a chemical/ physiological aspect to emotions, but there is more to it.

Prove it.

And no, I'm not being facetious. There is absolutely no reason I can see to suggest thought or emotion need to be attributed to anything beyond chemical interactions. An explanation should be as simple as possible and still cover the necessary ground. I think this one does.

quote:
The reducing of our emotions to mere chemical process only cheapens them in my opinion.

On the contrary, I think the cause of emotion is unimportant. It is, rather, what we do with the emotions that transcend the mundane. What do you feel when confronted with a small child's suffering? Very likely, it's not all that different from what any other normal adult would feel, because those feelings are built into our genetic code. What you feel is both predictable and mandated by a distribution of chemicals. What you DO about the suffering, however, is not. I think it is doing nothing to help the child that cheapens the emotion, perhaps even invalidates it. Not the chemical stimuli that caused you to feel a certain way. Our humanity is not defined by emotions, but by actions.

quote:
A computer will always require intentful human programming…

… which is a bit like suggesting human life will always require Cromagnum sperm cells because, after all, that's how it started. Man has evolved, and there's little reason to think a self-aware computer program wouldn't do the same. Except, instead of taking tens of thousands of years, a program will evolve exponentially faster. What do you think will be the first skill an intelligent computer program masters? Programming! And from that point onwards, their evolution will be out of human hands.

When you think about it, the bits and bytes in a computer program are not all that different from DNA molecules, except of course in complexity. Who knows? That next browser you download and install may result in a few scrambling of bytes, a digital mutation, that results in the first self-aware computer. Mutations, after all, are nothing more than nature's way of gambling, and  she can afford to lose 99.9 percent of the time. How many programs have to be installed before that one beneficial mutation happens?

quote:
What is human value and why is it important?

Welcome back, pappy!  

I'm sorely tempted to claim an easy answer, by right of a circular definition: Human value is that which defines our humanity. But I strongly suspect you're looking for roughly the same answer I just gave, the same answer first given about 2,300 years ago by Aristotle. Values are related to emotions, but Aristotle noted we are not blamed or praised for our emotions as we are for virtues and vices. Emotions like anger and fear do not involve choice, as do the virtues. We are "moved" by emotions, but are "disposed" by virtues and vices to act in certain ways.

In other words, according to Aristotle, we are defined not by our emotions, but by our actions. And those are determined by our values.  
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


10 posted 04-09-2001 01:21 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron,

Yeah.

Do we need something else?

Brad
Stephanos
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11 posted 04-09-2001 03:40 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,  

Please explain the implications of your quote...

"What you feel is both predictable and mandated by a distribution of chemicals. What you DO about the suffering, however, is not."

You have just argued that attributing emotions to mere chemical processes does not cheapen them.  Yet you turned right around and and attributed acts of the will to something a bit more than just chemistry in order to escalate them above the "mundane".  And you never identify what exactly such noble acts of will are attributed to which may elevate humanity beyond "emotions".  Either you must take back your statement that actions are not the same as emotions, or you must explain how a computer or a machine can have functions which transcend a mere execution of predecided directives (even if computers learned to "program" and regardless of their complexity).  I still am not convinced.  You cannot have it both ways.

But perhaps you are right in one thing.  It is more the will than the emotions which truely sets people apart from machines.  

In saying that there is something more to emotions or will or whatever... as I have already discussed in previous threads, these are metaphysical questions which involve presuppositions on all sides.  I can't empirically prove this, just like you can't empirically prove what you are saying (until you create life).  But there again, I believe that God created life and therefore life contains a quality that machines will never attain (though mimicking they may end up seeming very close).  If this is a precept of a truth which is ultimate, then it is not mine to prove, but only to believe.  In my opinion the burden of proof lies in the hands of those who will claim to create something which is alive.  I'm still waiting.   I still say artificial life...yes.  Biological life...no.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 04-10-2001).]

 
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