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Comment by siglny on Journal of Consciousness Studies issue on the Singularity · 2012-03-15T17:39:11.946Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I could read the Dennett article online. If Chalmers has a philosophical nemesis it has to be Dennett. Though he probably sees it otherwise, I contend that Dennett's hard materialism is loosing ground daily in the academic and philosophical mainstream even as Chalmers' non-reductive functionalism gains in appreciation. (Look at Giulio Tononi's celebrated IIT theory of consciousness with its attendant panpsychism for just one example. And that's in the hard sciences, not philosophy.)

I'm ascertaining from the comments here that Dennett is no fan of the Singularity. I suspect that Dennett dislikes Singularity thought because of its teleological implications about evolution. A truly teleological universe with mind as a non-physical feature opens up a whole host of philosophical reevaluations that I doubt Dennett is willing to explore. (To be fair, Chalmers doesn't explore these metaphysical concerns either. Broderick's lovely essay on science fiction and the Singularity gets closest to exploring this new ontological possibility space.)

Of the articles in the journal, at least Tipler thinks big, real big, and takes his arguments to their logical conclusion. Unfortunately, Tipler is convinced he has "proved" what can only be properly seen as suggestive and interesting speculation about future evolution. He even tries to deflate Hume's entire fact/value distinction while at it, clearly biting off more than he can chew in such a brief essay. (I plan to read his book to see if he gives his Hume discussion a more complete treatment.) Separate from his arguments, there is the aura of quack about Tipler (as there is with other Singularity-celebrities like Aubrey De Grey and even Ray Kurzweil) and yet, he's a quack who still may just be right, if not in exact detail than in his general train of thought. It's a radical idea that forces even the most secular of rationalists to think of a future that may only be described as, in some sense, divine.