Thursday, July 9, 2015

Predicting the scientific future

Man likes making predictions about the future. Scientists are human beings, therefore they make predictions about the progress to be expected in various fields of research during the coming years, decades and even centuries. These predictions are widely publicized by the media.
Are scientific predictions more likely to be satisfied than other predictions of the future? We might think so, since science is the most rational branch of human knowledge. What should we do to confirm or disconfirm this surmise? We should apply the scientific method to the predictions, i.e. wait until the scheduled time has come and check whether the predictions were fulfilled or not. Such studies are not usually done. Everyone is prepared to predict or to listen to predictions, but few bother to check if those anticipations actually came to happen.
There are a few egregious cases that many people remember. In 1956, the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence, where the term Artificial Intelligence was coined, predicted that in less than ten years we would have computer programs capable of beating the world chess champion, or seamlessly translating between any two human languages. The total failure of this prediction is obvious: the first target came true 41 years later rather than 10, while the second has not been achieved after almost 60 years. As a result of this failure, research in artificial intelligence stopped for more than a decade and was not revived until expert systems reawakened interest in the discipline.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Questions for materialist atheists

Steven Weinberg
There is a website (10 questions Christians must answer) that offers 10 questions to believers in Christianity. If they consider and meditate these questions deeply, they are supposed to convince themselves that their religious beliefs are absurd, that the best they can do is convert to atheism. This website (and others like it) gave us the idea that these contributions are double-edged, as the same procedure can be used for the opposite purpose: one can also be skeptical towards materialism. Therefore we are proposing here a few questions and offer a link to the atheistic page to give the reader the chance to compare both approaches impartially and draw their own conclusions.

1.      Consider this assertion: Nothing exists but those things with which science can experiment. Do you believe this because of scientific reasons, or it is a dogma for you?