ID, AI, and the Problem of Other Minds: Some Thoughts about Intelligent Design Skepticism

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Courtesy of Zastavski

Regarding theories about the origin of the universe or the origin of species, there appears to be “design” all over the place. How do we account for this design? Broadly speaking, we can double-down on evolutionary naturalism affirming no “designing” cause whatsoever, or we can admit that some things seem to be best explained as “designed” (i.e., there is a designing intelligence which caused them).

It is the more conservative thesis to extrapolate from known designing causes (human intelligence–of which we are deeply familiar) to an unknown designing cause (non-human intelligence–of which we are not as familiar) rather than to ditch it all and assume that our intelligence can’t ever identify something analogous to itself. That’s not just skeptical, that’s cynical, not to mention it would make the whole field of “artificial intelligence” moot, and it would render the “problem of other minds” unsolvable. Both of these examples would be kinds of intelligence that are denied because they are only analogous to our own intelligence (your intelligence can’t be identical to mine, since yours is happening in a different place than mine, and you know somethingz I don’t, and vice versa). Computer “intelligence” would be even more different from our intelligence so we really couldn’t admit that kind of intelligence.

Now I might be going out on a limb here but I suspect that most evolutionary naturalists think that other minds (besides their own) exist, and that it’s at least conceptually possible to have artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, they risk prohibiting these options if they deny the “design inference” and it’s implications.

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