Eric Holloway

Senior Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence

Eric Holloway is a Senior Fellow with the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence, and holds a PhD in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Baylor University. A Captain in the United States Air Force, he served in the US and Afghanistan. He is the co-editor of Naturalism and Its Alternatives in Scientific Methodologies.

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How We Know the Mind Is About Information, Not Matter or Energy

The computer program’s world is one of binary 0 or 1 decisions but the physical world is one of many different shades of more or less
It’s really hard to picture the “mind,” isn’t it? You might think of wavy ghosts, or a spectral light. But nothing very definite. The brain, on the other hand, is very easy to visualize. Images and videos are just a Google away. That’s why it’s easy to assume that our brains are the entities that do our thinking for us. The brain is not only easy to image, it is physical. We can (in theory) touch it. Poke it. The brain even runs off electricity, just like your computer. But what makes a computer run Windows? It isn’t just the transistors on silicon wafers. It isn’t just the electricity coursing through the circuits. Windows itself is a ghostly being, like…

How AI Neural Networks Show That the Mind Is Not the Brain

A series of simple diagrams shows that, while AI learns faster than the human brain, the human mind tackles problems that stump AI
Recently, I’ve been arguing (here and here, for example) that we can use artificial neural networks (ANNs) to prove that the mind is not the brain. To recap, here is the logic of my argument: Premise A: neural networks can learn better than the brainPremise B: the human mind can learn better than a neural networkConclusion: the human mind can learn better than the brain, therefore it is not the brain This means if we can conclusively show the human mind can learn better than a neural network, then the mind is not the brain. For Premise A, I’ve argued that the differentiable neural network is a superior learning model compared to the brain neuron’s “all or nothing principle”. The…

Can Computer Neural Networks Learn Better Than Human Neurons?

They can and do; when artificial intelligence programmers stopped trying to copy the human neuron, they made much better progress
Neural networks are all the rage in computing these days. Many engineers think that, with enough computer power and fancy tweaks, they will become as smart as people. Recent successes playing games and predicting protein folds pour gasoline on the AI fire. We could be on the edge of the mystical Singularity, when humans and computers will merge and we become immortal gods. Or not. Let’s wind the clock back to the beginning of neural networks. In computer science terms, they are actually a very old technology. The earliest version, called a perceptron, (a single-layer neural network) was invented in the 1960s, inspired by McCulloch and Pitt’s early model of brain neurons. But, the perceptron was ignored for decades because…

Artificial neural networks can show that the mind isn’t the brain

Because artificial neural networks are a better version of the brain, whatever neural networks cannot do, the brain cannot do.
What is the human mind? AI pioneer Marvin Minsky (1927–2016) said in 1987 that essentially “Minds are what brains do.” That is, the mind is the result of electrical waves cycling through the brain, as neurons spike and synapses transmit signals. But is that true? Can we test this idea? We can indeed, using artificial neural networks. One of the most popular approaches to artificial intelligence is artificial neural networks. These networks, inspired by an early model of how neurons fire (the McCulloch–Pitts model), consist of nodes, where each node is similar to a neuron. A node receives signals and then sends them to its linked nodes based on an activation function. There are, of course, differences between neural networks…

Google’s Chatbot LaMDA Sounds Human Because — Read the Manual…

What would you expect LaMDA to sound like? Whales? ET? I propose a test: “Human until PROVEN otherwise”
Recently Google employee Blake Lemoine caused a media storm over the LaMDA chatbot he was working on, that he claims is sentient (it feels things like a human being). A heavily edited transcript has been released that shows him and a collaborator having a very coherent conversation with LaMDA. Many have been quick to dismiss his claims about the chatbot’s sentience, accusing the Googler of falling prey to the Eliza effect: anthropomorphizing a probability distribution over words (thus believing that he is talking to a human). The accusation is that Lemoine generated a large number of dialogs, then edited down the exchange to create a coherent narrative. Google placed Lemoine on leave, technically for breaking the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that…

The Salem Hypothesis: Why Engineers View the Universe as Designed

Not because we're terrorists or black-and-white thinkers, as claimed. A simple computer program shows the limits of creating information by chance
In the fun-filled world of internet debate between creationists and evolutionists, we encounter the Salem Hypothesis: Creationists tend to be engineers. Many explanations have been offered for this phenomenon (apparently named after Talk Origins contributor Bruce Salem): engineers are closet terrorists creationists are trying to protect their fragile beliefs a desire to exert authority engineers like simple black and white answers There’s a reason internet forums are not known for flattering character analysis! Anyhow, the true reason for the Salem Hypothesis is summed up in this graph. Read on to find out why. Engineers are more likely to be creationists because they are familiar with what it takes to design complex things for specific tasks. Which is exactly what we…

Dawkins’ Weasel Program vs the Information Life Acquires En Route

To demonstrate what is wrong with fully naturalist assumptions like those of Richard Dawkins’ Weasel program, I developed Weasel Libs, modeled on Mad Libs
In his famous Weasel program zoologist and philosopher Richard Dawkins shows that the simple combination of random mutation and natural selection (Darwinian evolution) can produce the English sentence, “Methinks it is like a weasel”, in a short time period. The point of his program is to demonstrate that evolution can generate the complex, pre-specified DNA sequences we find in biology before the heat death of the universe. His argument sounds persuasive because both English sentences and DNA sequences are made up of symbols. Both can be randomly modified anywhere, and by cumulative selection, they can plausibly adapt to the environment in reasonably short order. Writers in English can learn to pen best-selling novels through trial and error and audience feedback.…

Why GPT-3 Can’t Understand Anything

Without long-term memory, human conversation becomes impossible
There is a mathematical reason why machine learning systems like GPT-3 are incapable of understanding. The reason comes down to the fact that machine learning has no memory. It is just probabilistic associations. If there is only a 10% chance of going off topic, then after just seven exchanges there is a greater than 50% chance the machine learning model has gone off topic. The problem is that when prediction is just based on probabilities, the likelihood of making a misprediction increases exponentially. A long-term memory is needed in order to maintain long-term coherence. GPT-3 is essentially a sophisticated Markov process. What is important about the Markov process is that the next step in the process is only dependent on…

AI Companies Are Massively Faking the Loophole in the Turing Test

I propose the Turing Test be further strengthened by presuming a chatbot is human until proven otherwise
Computer pioneer Alan Turing was posed the question, how do we know if an AI has human like intelligence? He offered his famous Turing test: If human judges cannot differentiate the AI from a human, then it has human-like intelligence. His test has spawned a number of competitions in which participants try to fool judges into thinking that a chatbot is really a human. One of the best-known chatbots was Eugene Goostman, which fooled the judges into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy — mostly by indirection and other distraction techniques to avoid the sort of in-depth questioning that shows that a chatbot lacks understanding. However, there is a loophole in this test. Can you spot the loophole? What better…

Does Information Weigh Something After All? What If It Does?

At the rate we create information today, one physicist computes that in 350 years, the energy will outweigh the atoms of Earth
In the 1960s, IBM researcher Rolf Landauer (1927–1999) observed that if the logical information in a computational system decreased, then the physical entropy in the system must increase (Landauer’s Principle). This conclusion follows from the principle that the entropy in a closed system can never decrease. A decrease in the logical information corresponds to a decrease in entropy. And factoring in the principle that the entropy cannot actually decrease, the physical system itself must increase in entropy when the information decreases. This increase in entropy will result in the emission of heat, and a reduction of energy in the system. Now Melvin Vopson, a physicist at the University of Portsmouth, has taken Landauer’s principle to the next logical step. He…

What Darwinism Fails to Explain about Business Enterprise

On today’s ID the Future, host Jay Richards talks with Eric Holloway about his recent Mind Matters article, “Can Darwinian Theory Explain the Rise and Fall of Businesses?” Why would anyone think Darwinian theory could explain business ups and downs? Holloway explains, and also notes that there’s an entire sub-discipline, organizational ecology, dedicated to studying business from a Darwinian framework. Richards, who has published on Darwinism, design, economics, and entrepreneurship himself, also weighs in. Darwinism sees business as survival of the fittest, with natural selection playing an obvious role, but where do the businesses and the innovations come from in the first place? Here is where Darwinism really founders as a tool for understanding business and entrepreneurship, says Holloway. It’s Read More ›