Episode Twenty Two – Biases, AI and Current Affairs

Today we are talking about inherent biases, AI, time travel and faster than light travel. And then we will go over a shocking legal decision.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

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Hi everyone! This is episode twenty-two of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. Today we are talking about inherent biases, artificial intelligence and parental neglect in the current affairs section.

Inherent Biases

The other day, one of our listeners shared a diagram on Facebook. It purported to show which parts of the brain are responsible for various cognitive biases. This is nonsense for many reasons, but we will explore some of the most obvious ones.

Firstly, this treats cognitive biases as though they were inherent functionalities of the brain. As though the reason we are sometimes guilty of these biases is that neurons in some specific part of our brains are firing.

But this is not how cognitive biases work. It is not as though they are the result of the hard-wired structures of our brain.

brain biases
Lets see if we can find the parts of the brain responsible for other biases? No, I don’t think we can either …

They are the result of a failure to properly reason. When we accuse someone of a cognitive bias, we are essentially saying “Well, what you said is not consistent with reality. You have made an error.”. They are not biases. There is nothing inherent in our brain which makes us more prone to make such errors.

But that is what this chart would like us to believe. That there are some parts of the brain which make us inherently inclined to such errors. But that is not how it works. Such errors are simply the result of improper reasoning or evading to reason at all.

If these so-called biases were indeed localized like this, then why is it relatively easy to avoid these biases? Why is it that the better one learns to think, the least subject they are to such biases? Why is it that highly logical people with sound reasoning skills seldom, if ever, are subject to such biases?

What is the motive behind all of this?

To excuse poor reasoning and to try to avoid the need to overcome the tendency some of us have towards these so-called biases. That way they can be poor thinkers and then blame their brain for being wired that way. And minimize or avoid the need to learn to avoid them by learning to think more rationally.

They want to evade responsibility for being prone to these biases. As though they cannot help it if they have biases built into their brain!

They can help it. By learning to reason properly to avoid such biases. But they would rather not accept the responsibility of learning to properly reason. It can be a long and difficult process. They would rather not do the work.

Learning to reason well involves a lot of practice and study for many of us. Effort some would not rather not make.

Perhaps some of them see little value in learning to reason. Why learn to reason when you can continue to be a poor thinker? And instead, pretend to be a victim of the unfortunate alleged structure of your brain.

This is a form of intellectual cowardice and laziness. And I find this morally reprehensible. It is difficult to imagine anything as immoral as the evasion of the need to learn to think rationally.

We should do our utmost to recognize any flaws in our thinking processes and attempt to learn to avoid them. That is how we become more rational and better able to deal with the world around us. Which is how we lead better and happier lives.

An Interesting Comment on AI

We recently received an interesting comment from one of our audience. It got us thinking and we have an answer you might find interesting. Here is the comment:

One possible way in which AI may emerge is the continual replacement of human parts until there is no longer any organic parts left.

e.g. as of today, I can replace most parts of a human, legs, arms, heart, most organs etc.

On the head I can replace the eyes, ears, nose & some parts of the brain.

As we understand more of what it is to be human, we will be able to replace more of the brain.

Eventually, the “consciousness” part of the brain will be replaced & on that day we will have an artificial AI or artificial human.

So, like organic evolution I think artificial evolution will occur in steps over a significant time period, but significantly less than that required by organic evolution i.e. 1000s of years not millions

Note: Given the expansiveness of the universe the only way humans can explore it is to evolve into artificial bodies since cosmic radiation is lethal to organic life & time travel & FTL travel are an impossibility.

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