Hello! I'm Craig, and I'm a Michigan-based software developer for Zapier.com. In my free time I like to over-engineer email solutions for django, under-engineer Kivy tools, and play lots and lots of ultimate frisbee.
The following is a modest summary of a single chapter of David Deutsch’s book on reason and knowledge, The Beginning of Infinity, and several adjacent concepts. The specific chapter, entitled “Artificial Creativity”, examines a source of possible confusion surrounding artificial intelligence. If this simple summary piques your interest, do yourself a favor and read Deutsch’s full work.
In this blog post, I’ll first summarize David Deutsch’s analysis of the generation of knowledge and all its inherent complexities. After that and with it as a foundation, I’ll pivot into Deutsch’s commentary of artificial intelligence.
One of David Deutsch’s main theses in The Beginning of Infinity is that knowledge is the currency of the universe. With sufficient knowledge, he argues, a person can accomplish any task that does not violate the laws of physics (such as traveling faster than the speed of light). This is true because, as Deutsch writes, "There can be no regularity in nature without an explanation, for to believe in an explanation-less regularity is to invoke the supernatural."
Upon first reading, I had some difficulty parsing this claim. However, with a bit of additional thought I was able to work through it. First, imagine being an early human and stumbling upon some new "regularity" in the world — say, that water seems to always run downhill, or that the four seasons follow a predictable schedule. Such observations may seem hopelessly mysterious while brand new, but with hindsight we know that those two particular regularities each have concrete explanations (gravity1, and the orbit and tilt of Earth, respectively). Deutsch's point, which almost seems too simple to state, is that all regularities will have such explanations (whether we immediately know them or not!). This extrapolation is what unlocks the full power of explanation, and thus knowledge.READ MORE