Of his many specialties, in this episode Michael inquires into David Gelernter’s professional preoccupation: artificial intelligence. Gelernter recalls the pioneering role of his father, warns of the perils of letting children be captive to flickering screens, and remarks on whether AI robots can be spiritual seekers. Gelernter also emphasizes the key role of the Judeo-Christian Western tradition in creating a free and idealistic context in which technology is primed to explode.
A Polymathic Mind
Yale computer scientist David Gelernter is truly a great mind whose interests and knowledge similarly know no bounds. He is a novelist, painter, political commentator, religious thinker, and much more. His books include Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, and Judaism: A Way of Being.
Timestamps are approximate.
- 03:26 | Is the human mind a form of computer?
- 04:38 | Is Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of a Singularity a likelihood?
- 06:00 | What was Herbert Gelernter’s role in computer science?
- 06:40 | What are some of the perils to children of unlimited access to computers?
- 08:40 | What was the role of religion in your upbringing?
- 09:55 | Are there any examples of AI seeking answers to religious questions?
- 11:55 | Can AI be made to wonder like a child?
- 12:50 | Why ought we look to texts from the Bronze Age for meaning?
- 13:35 | Being a “rooted structure” rather than “tumbleweed”
- 13:45 | The deep and dazzling richness of the Western and Judeo-Christian traditions
- 14:35 | What do you mean by the term “Puritan Zionism”?
- 16:15 | Why has America been the ground spring of so many technological breakthroughs?
- 18:04 | A basic ideology of freedom, of “not butting in”
- David Gelernter’s faculty page at Yale
- The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness authored by David Gelernter
- “The Tides of Mind” presented at Talks at Google
- The Muse in the Machine: Computerizing the Poetry of Human Thought by David Gelernter
- Judaism: A Way of Being by David Gelernter
- Americanism: The Fourth Great American Religion by David Gelernter