Saturday, September 03, 2011

Finding a great book by fluke :-)

That happened in Edinburgh, during my first trip to Scotland and its beautiful capital...

I was passing by a street full of little bookstores - mostly antiquarian, when I dropped into this one:

And there among mostly old books of Philosophy, I found this very recent one: „Apocalyptic AI” by Robert M. Geraci. Minutes later I read a couple of chapters while sitting in a little French restaurant....

And I must say, I'm deeply and positively surprised. The author, who is a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, wrote an extremely interesting account about the parallels between certain "hard" AI theories and predictions and ... religious experiences and attitudes. In the conclusion to the first chapter he writes:

„Apocalyptic AI is a technological faith that directly borrows its sacred worldview from apocalyptic Judaism and Christianity”

Sounds interesting ...

I started to think  a bit, and when I recalled my first encounter with Ray Kurzweil thought (despite my criticism there) I came quickly to a realization that there indeed must be a deeper link between highly technological belief in the possibility of uploading our mind with our consciousness to a computer and the beliefs in human immaterial soul. What at the first glimpse looks like the strong anti-religious argument (i.e. the mind can be „run" by a machine) is paradoxically just the argument for the opposite view. If one, indeed could upload our mind - that means this mind is completely different from the brain and indeed is the soul sought by religious people through our history....

Well, don't take me wrong. As the author in the introduction, I'm not a strong AI faithful..
However, the argument and the whole idea — and The Book — seems to be extremely interesting ...

The review will come ... :-)

Written in Edinburgh ...


  1. Anonymous2:39 AM

    I would love too have visited this bookstore as I am an avid lover of used books. These stores are rapidly diasappearing. I enter as if on a treasure hunt or spiritual quest. I have no expectations except to know that I will be surprised by the thought of a writer who I never knew existed. Check out the post on today's Facebook concerning the book I just finished. The most far out theory of the universe I have ever read. Itzak Bentov - A very interesting man and thinker. Quite a bit of quantum physics but I think given your backround and interests, you might like this; or else your expertise will perceive his theory as too outrageously imaginative and therefore not credible.
    Name of the Rose was one of my favorites and you make me want to read it once again. Raymond Harrison

  2. Anonymous6:31 AM

    Raymond, Thanks for pointing out Itzhak Bentov book.

    I like such books, because (that I perhaps did not tell you) I was quantum physicist myself - my PhD was about some application of Feynman representation of quantum reality for radiation chemistry :-)

    I already ordered both of his books !!!

    Apropos such bookstores:

    You must visit Shakespeare bookstore in Paris (on La Bucherie street) - and if you happen to come to Poland once ( :-) ) - I would take you to Massolit Books ( in Cracow...