The Singularity, Virtual Immortality and the Trouble with Consciousness (Op-Ed)

The Singularity, Virtual Immortality and the Trouble with Consciousness (Op-Ed)

The author summarizes the explanations of consciousness into 5 possibilities.

It is an open question, post-singularity, whether superstrong AI without inner awareness would be in all respects just as powerful as superstrong AI with inner awareness, and in no respects deficient? In other words, are there kinds of cognition that, in principle or of necessity, require true consciousness? For assessing the AI singularity, the question of consciousness is profound .

The soul of the human machine

The soul of the human machine

Its easy to say that man is not like a machine.  Its very hard to say what that might mean for consciousness.

Machines possess no capacity to will, create, and want. From inside the computational framework, powers like these can only be bracketed or dismissed. If widely accepted, the moral and political implications of such dismissals would be grave. What becomes of democracy, individual liberty, and the right to pursue happiness, if computer-man has no capacities for free choice and is algorithm-driven?

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.”