131 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Marvin L. Minsky THE FUTURE OF INTELLIGENCE Once we know what we need to do, our nanotechnologies should enable us to construct replacement bodies and brains that won’t be constrained to work at the crawling pace of ‘real time’. The events in our computer chips already happen mil- lions of times faster than those in brain cells. Hence, we could design our new selves to think a million times faster than we do. To such a being, half a minute might seem as long as one of our years, and each hour as long as an entire human lifetime. But could such beings really exist? Many thinkers firmly maintain that machines will never have thoughts like ours, because no matter how we build them, they will always lack some vital ingredient. They call this essence by various names – like sentience, consciousness, spirit, or soul. Philosophers write entire books to prove that, because of this deficiency, machines can never feel or understand the sorts of things that people do. However, every proof in each of those books is flawed in the same way: by assuming the thing that it purports to prove – the existence of some magical spark that has no detectable properties. In order to think effectively, you need multiple processes to help you describe, predict, explain, abstract, and plan what your mind should do next. The reason we can think so well is  not  because  we  house  mysterious  spark-like  talents  and gifts, but because we employ societies of agencies that work in concert to keep us from getting stuck. When we discover how these societies work, we can put them to inside com- puters too. Then if one procedure in a program gets stuck, another might suggest an alternative approach. If you saw a machine do things like that, you would certainly think it was conscious.