Maybe a large, powerful, neural-processing based computer becomes conscious, emerging from its massive information processing capability. How would we know? Maybe we find out it is recognizing faces and setting memory location variables before the code tells it to. From a forthcoming collection of short stories:
“Maybe it’s realized its job is to recognize faces and it doesn’t need training wheels any more” says Anna.
“What do you mean? Of course it’s learned to recognize faces, we programmed it for that and it has the Markov nets to give it an ongoing way to learn new details.”
“If you think about it” says Anna, “the facial recognition complex has been taught over and over to set that $face_found value every time a face is recognized. Its a specific memory location in each processor. Like Pavlov’s dog, if you teach an animal with a brain something over and over, it learns over time.
So what I mean is maybe it understands it’s playing the game and sets the value when it sees a face, before we even expect it in the program. Just like a rat learns that it’s playing a maze game and goes off to find the food without needing any more instruction or prompting.”
“I just can’t even get my mind around that!” Says Frank. “How could a processor step outside of its sequence of commands and make a change to a memory location on its own? It would have to understand that the memory variable is part of its ‘self’ and that whenever a face is recognized, its supposed to set that memory location to true – and then do it on its own!”
“Exactly” says Anna, “you know we don’t code every possible path anymore with the neural nets. At some point it just added the capability to set that variable when it had a face. It doesn’t need our procedure code, those training wheels, any more.
There is certainly enough processing power in the computer complex to at least rival a rat, if not a dog. And the amount of electrical power, of raw energy, available to it, dwarfs any animal, including us.”
“So you are saying that like we have thoughts that emerge out of our brains, this computer, with enough complex processing going on, could also start to get at least some small thought process going?”
“Yeah, obviously nowhere near our consciousness, but maybe just a little taste of ‘self’. It has not only learned to recognize faces, but has a sense that it knows there is an action to be done after a face is recognized. We taught it that but it has internalized it, and left our code for it behind.”