Do you consider your own very intelligent behavior to be purely mechanical? — Phil Tanny
Yes. I won't claim to understand the mechanics fully, but we can remote control mice with electrodes in their brains and it's clear that things like the amount of beer or sleep I have affects my behavior in pretty predictable ways. We understand how individual neurons work. We understand how basic and some not so basic neural circuits work. We understand how storing, retrieving, and computing information can give rise to behaviors we would consider intelligent. There are many, many, details to fill in, but all the necessary components are there, it's only a matter of time before we understand how they fit together
Do you have faith that human beings will be able to successfully manage ANY power which may arise from the knowledge explosion? Isn't modern science built upon such a faith — Phil Tanny
No I don't and no it isn't. You are conflating the practice of science as a knowledge-generating process and the decision of when and how much to use that process. It is a fact that more, better data leads you to a more complete understanding of the system you are studying scientifically. No faith required, just the way science works. You seem to be making a value assessment on how much we should engage in science which is a social/political question, not a scientific one. Maybe that's what you mean by "science culture", but that's a very important distinction to make. Science is not a faith-based belief system and comparing it to religion on that basis is not a valid comparison.
I don't have faith that we will be able to manage anything we could possibly discover, I think it's possible we could destroy ourselves. I think you could ask almost any scientist and they would say the same. I think you're painting scientists with a broad brush that makes it seem like we haven't considered our stances. You will not find people who are more comfortable engaging with the uncertainty of their stances than scientists. That's basically what the entire field of statistics is and all we do is make each other consider whether our experiments actually back up what we claim we know. The entire scientific publication and funding apparatus is built around placing value on certain lines of scientific inquiry based on its value to society. There are many, many research projects that don't get funded (something like 5% of NIH grants are funded), so the decision of whether more is better when it comes to every science project the answer is no.
Science moves slowly, experiments and funding decisions are planned carefully, and there are institutions in place to govern the implementation of technology that have done a pretty good job so far. Those are all pieces of evidence that go into my assessment that we should keep doing science. Not every single possible experiment, but we should keep thinking about what we're doing before we do it. That's not blind faith, its a decision made based on incomplete information, which is to say, a decision. There are no true proofs in real life.
Where is the proof that life is better than death? There is none. Faith, belief without proof. — Phil Tanny
No one is claiming that there is evidence that life is better than death. It's a value assessment made by our society that we want to make extending healthy lifespan a priority. I think it's a mistake to equate blind faith with having preferences or priorities. Also, I'm not sure I understand your concern over science inadvertently ending civilization if you're not willing to accept improving human life is a positive outcome.
In general, I would challenge you to hold your own viewpoint that the unending pursuit of knowledge will lead to the end of civilization to the same standard of proof you are demanding of what you call science culture. It is not possible for you to prove that it will end us and to claim that we currently know everything we will need to prevent the destruction of society from any number of other non-human threats is also unsupported. The pursuit of further knowledge can tell you whether something is actually dangerous or how to control it, but I think what you're suggesting is that we stop learning based on the faith that we will discover something that will be our ruin.