Great little story by Terry Bisson.  So accurately mimics the conversations we have about machines being sentient.  Really makes you think about the conceit that it takes ‘meat’ or brain tissue to harbor consciousness!

I’m honored that this often shows up on the internet. Here’s the correct version, as published in Omni, 1990.

“They’re made out of meat.”


“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

Artificially intelligent robots don’t need to be conscious to turn against us

Artificially intelligent robots don't need to be conscious to turn against us

This is a very interesting interview with Stuart Russell.  He gives a nice overview of AI and the major areas of research, with its emphasis on solving problems, not getting consciousness in machines.

I think the quotes below about what we know about consciousness and how it might look in machines are great.

SR: The biggest obstacle is we have absolutely no idea how the brain produces consciousness. It’s not even clear that if we did accidentally produce a sentient machine, we would even know it.

I used to say that if you gave me a trillion dollars to build a sentient or conscious machine I would give it back. I could not honestly say I knew how it works. When I read philosophy or neuroscience papers about consciousness, I don’t get the sense we’re any closer to understanding it than we were 50 years ago.

There is no scientific theory that could lead us from a detailed map of every single neuron in someone’s brain to telling us how that physical system would generate a conscious experience. We don’t even have the beginnings of a theory whose conclusion would be “such a system is conscious.”