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Comment Re:humans (Score 4, Interesting) 97

...nice guess, but RTFA and learn a bit of actual dental hygiene. What you eat isn't the problem, it's what it attracts. With the exception of extremely acidic beverages, the food we eat does not directly damage our teeth. Getting lots of calcium is certainly important for preventing osteoporosis, in teeth and elsewhere, but that's the whole story. You can eat as much sugar as you want if you're in a completely sterile environment. It won't hurt you. (Not that such a place exists.)

Every exposed surface both inside and out of the human body is its own little bacterial world. The flora in the intestines have been in the news a lot lately because it's become apparent that some diabetes and obesity cases are tightly linked to disruptions in the compositions of these communities—the wrong bacteria get in and cause trouble.

The big discovery of the story is that the bacteria in the mouth used to be a lot more diverse. Just like the intestines of the obese, agriculture has put our mouths (with very few exceptions like the bushmen and uncontacted peoples) into bad shape. It's not natural for us to even need to brush our teeth—note no other animal doing this.

I also think you've misrepresented life expectancy a little by componentizing things... as well as being a tiny bit low numerically. The wealthy in ancient Greece averaged about 70 years, without anything resembling sanitation, and the average Roman commoner made it to 45. It's true that some components stop functioning earlier, but that doesn't mean Mother Nature would disapprove of us pushing past it. Many of the changes the occur in middle age can have positive outcomes on the social group by encouraging the individual to focus on other aspects of life, primarily looking after the family or tribe.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 813

Sadly, we're only talking about the literal words "intelligent design," not the actual subject matter. Otherwise I'd give you all of the upward-pointing thumbs I have readily available.

For what it's worth, I work with the evolutionary history of genomes all the time. The painful reality is that it's all so messy and idiotic and random that there is absolutely no way any kind of intelligence could have planned any of it. There is no debate whatsoever once you've seen the actual evidence... but no one ever gets that far.

Comment Re:It is not 6 (Score 1) 78

...and just to mess things up a bit, in addition to hunger (which no one got), touch is actually four or five different mechanosensory phenomena—vibration, pressure (both fine and coarse), skin stretching. Pain is also completely separate, and (to the surprise of many) actually one of our slower senses.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 813

Certainly one could design an artificial intelligence worthy of being ascribed sentience. But until that occurs, it is anthropomorphism to call a machine or computer capable of designing anything on its own. Crucially, the design process involves intent, which dumb machines lack. Even an engineer looking up the appropriate rules to cobble something together has intent. Philosophically, we can expect the meaning of "intent" to remain a grey area for at least the next century as cognitive science matures, but I would argue something like "a plan generated by a system which is capable of completely or nearly completely rewriting and relearning its ruleset in response to complex decision processes," which is a feat beyond the abilities of most invertibrates, and has only been achieved in machine learning in a very coarse sense in the last few years.

(As for your reading list: I know with certainty that Kurzweil and Minsky are outdated. I would also probably recommend steering clear of Penrose, though I haven't read him. Most physicists are appallingly bad at understanding the human mind, and as a general rule should not be allowed outside of their field; this goes doubly for the famous ones. The gist of The Emperor's New Mind given on Wikipedia reaffirms this.)

Comment Re:Modern luddites (Score 2) 198

Sustained expansion is, obviously, unnatural and unreasonable. It'll take a while for everyone to realise this, of course, but I suspect that we'll see negative population growth once the entire planet has been brought up to full development, just like we see in many first-world countries presently.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 813

The concept of intelligence can get messy inherently, that's true. However, I think you'd find that most philosophers would say it is wrong to claim a program "designed" something—it can only produce that thing according to a design which it looks up, no matter how complex the look up process may be. To actually say a programming is designing something would be anthropomorphizing it.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 813

Joking aside, Windows 8 is poorly designed, not designed without intelligence. Unless you want to make the argument that it wasn't designed at all, in which case I would say it was, and that you should save those kinds of remarks for Vista. A lot of very smart people spent a great deal of time designing Windows 8, they just never realised anyone would ever have to use it.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 813

...Well, technically design has to be performed by an intelligence, but I couldn't figure out the term for the figure of speech that means "ascribing the properties of an actor to his or her actions." (I guess some things slip through the cracks.)

However, yes, and if you think otherwise, let me introduce you to the terms "poor design" and "good design." Notice that these do not imply the presence or absence of intelligence.

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