Ask A Genius (or Two):
Conversation with Dr. Claus Volko and Rick Rosner

Part 4/4

Written by Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Langley, British Columbia, Canada


Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With everything, we could continue forever. However, the discussion started on January 25, 2017 with an email from me. In other words, that seems like a long time for the discussion to come to fruition at this point. Maybe, we can close.

We typed about artificial intelligence, human intelligence, intelligence, and the relationship with mathematics and metaphysics. This kept the conversation forward into consciousness. If I take the summaries from before and include some new ones, and if I bring these into statements rather than points, these may help with the final questions from me.

Human intelligence and artificial intelligence amount to two distinct but overlapping forms of information processing. Human intelligence has strength in pattern recognition and novel idea production. Novel idea production may need more than computation alone. Artificial intelligence has strengths in data storage and speed. Intelligence relates more to efficiency than speed. Intelligence encapsulates both human intelligence and artificial intelligence. Theories of intelligence fail and succeed in different areas. IQ, or general intelligence tests and scores, predict educational success.

In near future, artificial intelligence will remain narrow. Neural networks and machine learning will continue to characterize the development of artificial intelligence. Media will continue to misrepresent the future of artificial intelligence and people. In far future, general artificial intelligence may emerge. Narrow artificial intelligence will exist more than general artificial intelligence. These technology trends may lead to a planet-spanning data processor.

Comprehension of the brain could explain human intelligence without consciousness. This may help create human intelligence in computers. Consciousness may require more than physical and natural explanations. “More than physical or natural explanations” leads to metaphysics. A natural and physical theory, or algorithm, could explain human intelligence. However, for consciousness and intelligence in general, metaphysics seems necessary.

What barriers – e.g., methodology, epistemology, academic bureaucracy, limitations in general intelligence, personality flaws in lack of persistence or conscientiousness, hindrance of creativity from various means, inadequate technological tools, insufficient evidence, and so on – may exist to the discovery of the explanatory framework?

If any of the listed examples, can you elaborate, please? What scientific discoveries and technological capabilities hint at the emergence of a theoretical framework for these more general comprehensions of intelligence writ large?

Once these come to the fore, on the assumption the natural philosophy and philosophy provide the basis in the future, how might influence the perspective on the nature of human intelligence and, subsequently, human life?

Why would these discoveries influence the notion of personhood for human beings and artificial life seen in better representations of science fiction? Claus, you are a theist. Rick, you follow, more or less, Reformed Judaism, which implies a God. Final question, why would the natural and physical explanations for human intelligence and artificial intelligence, and the eventual framework for consciousness and intelligence in general, align with a theistic view of the world?

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc.: I think that all the things you mentioned can be barriers hindering the discovery of the explanatory framework. I especially think that certain tabus that are widespread in our Western societies prevent thinkers and researchers from really questioning what is considered established knowledge, having quasi-dogmatic status. I am quite ambivalent about the “skeptics” movement, for instance. On the one hand, it may be true that many people are uncritical of pseudoscience and esoterics, and so it might be a good idea to make them aware of the limitations of these approaches and explain why the scientific method is more credible. On the other hand, adherents of the “skeptics” movement sometimes fail to see the limitations of science itself, and fail to be equally “skeptic” about science as they are about pseudoscience.

To me it seems real progress is not coming from mainstream science but from fringe groups that are not afraid of questioning or even rejecting scientific dogmata and “thinking out of the box”. I would like to direct your attention to the aforementioned “Triadic Distinction Dimensional Vortical Paradigm” invented by Drs. Neppe and Close and the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” by Christopher Langan. Admittedly, I have not studied them in detail yet and am thus not able to rate their credibility. But at least they seem to be attempts that go into the right direction. Both Drs. Neppe and Close and Christopher Langan happen to consider themselves theists. Actually the terms atheist and theist may be a bit misleading. While Drs. Neppe and Close and Christopher Langan may perceive themselves as theists primarily due to their religious upbringing and their motivation for inventing “theories of everything” that admit the existence of some sort of “deity” may be due to this as well, I was not brought up in a religious fashion. Yet I feel awkward about calling myself an atheist and have decided some time ago to identify myself with “theism”. In my case, it is not that I believe in any God persona bearing resemblance to man, but that I simply assume there to be things that can be considered “divine”, or “divine forces”, which cannot be explained by a naturalist or physicalist approach alone. This view is actually rooted in my own “childhood religion” which I invented as a young boy. Nota bene, this does not mean that there will never be any explanation for these “divine forces” that might be considered “rational” by a large proportion of humanity.

Actually I tend to believe that thanks to backpropagation and deep learning, we are currently experiencing a true revolution in domain-specific artificial intelligence, while it might still take at least yet another revolution until what people such as Ray Kurzweil or Max Tegmark call “Artificial General Intelligence” will arrive. Another technology that is going to have a big impact in the next couple of years is gene editing (CRISPR/Cas9). Eventually it might lead to “designer babies”; this is primarily a matter of legislation, since currently it is outlawed in most Western countries to genetically modify human embryos. Moreover, 3D printing will revolutionize the way things are manufactured. Quantum computing is still more fiction than science, although it has also made some progress in the past years. I think it is these technologies that will shape the world the most in the next ten years. I myself have also been working on a theoretical framework for an alternative to treating bacterial infections with antibiotics, keeping the bacteria alive instead of killing them, but reprogramming them (converting them from “parasites” to “symbionts”; that is why I am calling my framework “Symbiont Conversion Theory”). This might evolve to a new trend in medicine and it might solve a great problem as physicians are to an increasing extent confronted with “superbugs” that are resistant against many different sorts of antibiotics. My theory also concerns cancer treatment, since cancer cells can themselves be considered parasites that could possibly be converted into symbionts.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunities and your times, Claus and Rick.

Appendix: Footnotes

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc.: “I was born in 1983 in Vienna, Austria, Europe. My father wanted me to become a doctor while I was more interested in computers in my youth. After teaching myself to program when I was eight, I started editing an electronic magazine at age twelve and kept spending almost my entire sparetime on it – Hugi Magazine.

Upon graduation from high school, I studied medicine and computer science in parallel. In the end I became a software developer who occasionally participated in medical research projects as a leisure activity.

I am also the maintainer of the website 21st Century Headlines where I try to give interested readers an up-to-date overview of current trends in science and technology, especially biomedical sciences, computers and physics, and I recently founded the Web Portal on Computational Biology. I think there is no doubt I am a versatile mind and a true polymath.”

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.

He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.”