Social Networking
Trademarks of Pseudoscience
I'm very reluctant and almost ashamed to even link to this article in the The Register, it doesn't deserve your attention, but I'll write about because of the relationship with my main field of research (Creativity / A.I.) — and because it's a prime example of pseudoscience in action.

This guy is apparently answering a recent interview with Stephen Hawking. In this interview, Hawking suggests that we must advance brain-computer interface technologies (connecting our brains directly to computers) so that artificial brains of the future contribute to the human intelligence rather than oppose it (interesting to hear that Hawking is thinking along these lines). The author of the rebuke, Thomas Greene, in a borderline barbaric manner, blatantly claims that Hawking is an idiot and that human-level A.I. will never be possible.

Now, I've had a saying for many years, which is: If you believe in the Theory of Evolution, you believe that the brain is a machine. Machines can be replicated, hence you believe that human intelligence can be replicated in machines.

Mr. Greene believes in evolution. However — he introduces an interesting (or not) twist: He believes that humans encompass a certain quality that machines can't acquire. He calls it "irrational insight" — which we (humans) "mainly exhibit in religion, art and literature". What he's referring to is creativity, more or less — and that computers are too logical to replicate this feature. His actual point is irrelevant and I'm not going to waste my time answering his pseudoscientific arguments (which he has more than a handful).

This dude exhibits and combines three commonplace intellectual fallacies, the trademarks of pseudoscience:

He assumes we know enough to know what we don't know. i.e. that human level intelligence can only be brought about by natural evolution, and not by any other process.

He takes a concept that we don't fully understand yet (e.g. insight, creativity, emotions) and announces that it's impossible to replicate. Even though he doesn't really know how it works or what made it come about.

He draws concrete assumptions about scientific unknowns in our world, venturing instantly into religious territories.

There's also a fourth, more annoying than interesting fallacy: most of the concepts he mentions are very ambiguous and ill-defined, communally obfuscating the pseudoscientific nature of his arguments. This makes the whole article very hard to counter-argue in a sensible manner, and regrettably will cause some poor souls to actually buy into it.

My last words are simply:
Beware pseudoscience.

Please note: I strongly recommend not using Internet Explorer to view this page.