Part I, II, III
Superstition Disguised as Science
It is easy to make fun of Singularitarians because almost everything they preach regarding intelligence, the brain and consciousness is either faith-based pseudoscience or wishful thinking. I am tempted to feel sorry for them because, after having been lied to by established religions for so long, it makes sense to look elsewhere for salvation. But in so doing, they threw the baby out with the bathwater. Take, for example, their belief in the idea that, in the not too distant future, humans will achieve immortality by transferring the contents of their brains into simulated virtual entities residing in vast collections of powerful networked computers. Suppose for the sake of argument that this is possible, then copying one's brain onto a machine would result into two distinct conscious entities, the copy and the original. To prevent this from happening, singularitarians would have to destroy (i.e., murder, kill or euthanize) the original entity. Aside from the fact that there are laws against murder, it is doubtful that anybody, except Singularitarians, of course, would agree to be put to death in order to insure that only one copy of themselves can continue to exist. The silliness of it all is almost unbearable.
The Brain Is Not Probabilistic
It is a well known fact that the brain is very good at judging probabilities. It is also known that the brain can function efficiently in the presence of uncertain, noisy or incomplete sensory data. The prevailing hypothesis among Singularitarians is that, internally, the brain builds a probabilistic or Bayesian model of the world. If this were true, one would expect a gradation in the way we recognize patterns, especially in ambiguous images. However, in the last century, psychological experiments with optical illusions have taught us otherwise.
The only conclusion that we can draw from this type of experiment is that the cortex uses a winner-take-all pattern recognition strategy whereby all possible patterns and sequences are learned regardless of probability. The only criterion is that they must occur often enough to be considered above mere random noise. During recognition, pattern sequences in memory compete for activation and the ones with the highest number of hits are the winners. This tells us that, contrary to Singularitarian claims, the brain builds as perfect a model of the world as possible. Indeed, this is what we all experience. We expect the stove and the kitchen sink to be exactly where they were every time we go into the kitchen. Everything in our field of vision moves exactly the way they are supposed to. Probability has nothing to do with it.
Note, however, that the brain does not represent the world the way that deep neural networks do. DNNs are useless when presented with a completely new pattern. The brain, by contrast, can instantly learn and recall objects or patterns that it has never seen before. It may or may not retain them permanently in memory but there is no question that the visual cortex can instantly represent a new pattern internally. If it weren't so, it would not be able to see it and interact with it intelligently. This is a crucial aspect of intelligence that AGI designers in the Singularity community seem completely oblivious to.
Consciousness and Materialism
Singularitarians believe that the brain is all there is to the mind. This is the entire basis of the religion. Consciousness, we are told, is just an emergent property of the brain. How do they know this? They don't, of course, and this is what makes their movement a religion. There is no science behind it. When pressed, they will affirm their belief in materialism. The latter rejects dualism, the old religious idea adopted by Descartes according to which the conscious mind consists of a brain and a spirit. Why do they reject it? Overtly, they will say it is because the immaterial cannot interact with the material. But the hidden, unspoken reason is that they view traditional religions with contempt and will contradict them as often as they can. And why shouldn't they? Every religion wants to be the only true religion, no? But how do they know that the immaterial cannot interact with matter? They don't. It is a definition game. Since they define the immaterial as that which does not interact with matter, their argument becomes just an empty and pathetic tautology.
The inescapable fact remains that consciousness requires a knower and a known. The two are complementary opposites. That is to say, the knower cannot be known and the known cannot know. This automatically eliminates the brain as the knower because matter can always be known. It is that simple.
In Part III, I will go over the reasons that the Church of the Singularity is wrong about intelligence and motivation.