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.

Archives

Our Scientific Salvation Will Be The Death Of Us

Will we trust "the science" (meaning the scientists) to the point of madness?
Originally published at Patheos “The truly insane man is the perfectly rational man.” So says G.K. Chesterton. This saying is very counter intuitive today. The perfectly rational man is the ideal scientist, the man who knows reality in precise quantitative terms, the best kind of knowledge we have. Such scientific knowledge promises the secret of immortality. If we can understand the fundamentals of our physical existence, we can shape our existence in whatever way we wish. The rational man is the messiah of our scientific age. So, why did Chesterton warn us about the rational man? The problem is that rationality only deals with the known knowns and the known unknowns. Rationality does not deal with the unknown unknowns. The…

COVID-19’s Origins: Uses and Misuses of the Explanatory Filter

How a critic of intelligent design theory misunderstands the application of design inference
Last year in July a prominent critic of intelligent design theory, Dr. Adam Shapiro, took the Discovery Institute to task for not debunking the lab origin theory. He says, Behe seems to miss an opportunity to demonstrate that intelligent design theory shows how those pathways are not irreducible complex. Adam Shapiro, “Did Intelligent Design Just Miss Its Corona Moment?” at American Scientist and, How better to demonstrate its own apolitical nature than to apply its scientific process to debunk the Chinese lab myth? Adam Shapiro, “Did Intelligent Design Just Miss Its Corona Moment?” at American Scientist First of all, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of ID. ID theory is only resilient against false positives, not false negatives, as Dr. Ewert…

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 ›

Can a New AI Debating Program Win All the Debates?

While billed as an autonomous debating system, Project Debater features very little autonomy
From ancient days, reason has been considered the hallmark of what sets humans apart from animals. Aristotle defined humans as the rational animal and this definition has stuck through the history of Western philosophy. Human reason is best demonstrated in debate. Thus, if we can create programs that argue a point effectively, then computers will have conquered an important frontier of what it means to be intelligent. Recently, we learned at Nature that one research team claims to have developed such a program: A fully autonomous computer system has been developed that can take part in live debates with people. The findings hint at a future in which artificial intelligence can help humans to formulate and make sense of complex…

Can Darwinian Theory Explain the Rise and Fall of Businesses?

The fashionable field of organizational ecology says yes — organizations are like animals in nature
When you think of “business,” do you think of stuffy suits and boring meetings? But maybe that’s just a pose. Organizational science studies what makes businesses survive, thrive and die. The description makes businesses sound more like living, vulnerable animals, doesn’t it? There is even a widely accepted subfield called organizational ecology, founded by Michael Hannan and John Freeman (1944–2008), which applies evolution theory to businesses. In 1989, Harvard University Press published their very influential book on the topic. Organizational ecology applies a specifically Darwinian form of evolution theory to businesses. That is, the main driving force of change for businesses is seen as natural selection. The “ecology” part of organizational ecology is the idea that the ever-changing business environment…

How the Explanatory Filter Can Help Quash Conspiracy Theories

I found Dembski’s explanatory filter quite helpful in investigating voter fraud claims
William Dembski’s explanatory filter is a decision strategy for identifying events that are unlikely to have happened purely by chance. The filter proceeds in three main steps, which can be illustrated via the plot device in Contact, a novel (1985) by Carl Sagan, followed by a film (1997): Eliminate events of large probability (necessity): A radio telescope receives a pattern of beeps and pauses. Perhaps the pattern seems strange to us but we could just be overinterpreting inevitable space noise. Eliminate events of medium probability (chance): The pattern turns out to be a sequence of prime numbers. However, large randomly generated numbers sometimes feature apparent patterns (five 5s in a row, for example) that don’t signify anything. Specify the event…

How Did One Man Gain the Strength to Turn Away From Nihilism?

Chambers was quite willing to accept that he had joined, essentially, a terrorist organization, so long as he could see it as for the greater good
American writer Whittaker Chambers (1901–1961) sparked McCarthyism (a witch hunt against suspected Communists at high levels in the U.S. government in the early 1950s), during the trial of State Department official Alger Hiss. Senator Joseph McCarthy began his eponymous crusade against communists largely because Chambers had exposed Hiss as a Communist spy. Chambers, a senior editor at Time Magazine, knew that Hiss was a spy because Chambers himself was a spy who worked closely with Hiss and was in fact a very close friend. Which begs the question, why would a spy turn in his closest friend, as well as imperil himself? To understand the question and provide an answer, Chambers wrote an account of his conversion experience, and the…

What Is the Essential Feature of Creative Intelligence?

Creative intelligence is easier to describe by what it is not than by what it is. But there is a clue in that very fact…
I’ve spent the past couple articles debunking artificial intelligence. It is just as artificial as its name suggests. It takes on the appearance of intelligence through speed but it lacks the fundamental ability to create a well-matched start and end. So a perceptive reader has returned with another good question: “What is creative intelligence?” The reader is right to ask. Yes, telling someone that the exquisite dessert is not celery and not cod liver oil does not help us understand what the dessert itself is. There is a mystery regarding the very nature of human intelligence. Like its antithesis, randomness, creative intelligence is easier to describe by what it is not than by what it is. But, we can try!…

For Computers, Smart Is Not the Same Thing as Fast

In response to a reader’s good question …
In a recent article, I argued that computers are not, and never can become smarter. An insightful reader wrote to ask, “What if smartness is defined by speed?” This is a good point. The debate revolves around the definition of “smart.” and if we define “smart” as “fast”, then since computers are certainly getting faster they will necessarily become smarter. Such a definition has intuitive appeal. Think of the world’s best chess player versus a beginner. One of the big distinctions is the chess expert will choose a good move more quickly than a beginner, and in general will play faster than a beginner. As such, play speed demonstrates a certain level of intelligence on the part of the player.…

Computers Are Getting Faster But Are They Getting Smarter? No.

Computers are Turing machines, limited to operations that can be completely understood in relation to their programming
Won’t quantum computers be smarter than regular ones? No. Still No. What about optical computing, computing with DNA, or some other exotic form of computation? Always No. A skeptical reader might ask, Why such a definitive answer? How do you deal with the spectacular performance of deep learning? What about AlphaGo Zero? What about Watson? What about the infamous Deep Blue? What about quantum supremacy? Don’t these examples all disprove your point? No. All forms of computation past, present, and future will be physical. And all physical phenomena can be modeled by a Turing machine (pictured). No matter how fast the computer runs, the computer will never be more powerful than a Turing machine. A Turing machine consists of five…

Are We Facing the Next, Very Rapid Stage of Evolution, via AI?

Prof. Mark Alan Walker: “Person-engineering technologies will make it possible to accomplish in a matter of years what evolution would take thousands of millennia to achieve.”
These are certainly heady times in the biotech world. With the new mRNA vaccine being created in just a few days in January 2020, someone can mass produce DNA in their garage for the price of a hamburger, and Alpha Fold 2 can predict proteins from DNA with accuracy, rivalling wet lab results, it seems we are on the cusp of something extraordinary. Most viral infections will cease if all we need to do to roll out a new vaccine is sequence the virus genome and mass produce the portion that binds to human cells. On the darker side, it will also likely mean a greater threat of biowarfare. Creating a new virus may just be a matter of downloading…