Can A.I. Obtain Consciousness?

Huntn

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Our help of course would be needed. Then question No.2: What makes us (biological computers) different than an advanced metal, silicon and wired PC? This post came from The Purpose, Meaning of Life Thread. It really deserves it’s own topic. I did not place it in the Tech Forum because this is a different kind of discussion than talking about the new iPhone.

lets say that AI advancements surge beyond what we can even understand right now.
lets say that machines that make machine tools that make machines advances to nano levels.
and then its all combined.

does that all make Consciousness?
no.
of course i did cheat in the above analogy. it still would remain artificial intelligence.

humans will benefit from all of these advancements.
and humans being human will suffer a great deal from these advancements as well.
but we are the only intelligent beings on the planet.


big digression...
here's what will be on apple's home page in 2030.
the apple watch will sense a possibility that i will faint when i get out of bed.
the morning alarm wouldn't have even sounded yet when i get a call from my daughter who was alerted and asking me to tell her the truth of how badly i fell while on a new mountain i had never hiked before yesterday. the watch would also have detected that my body has not yet returned to its normal resting levels yet.
while i am talking with my daughter about all of this, my iPhone 23 scans the blood vessels in my ear and suggests that i change the course of my upcoming saturday morning trail run and instead take a less direct course.
meanwhile i have received an alert message that indicates the project for work that i need to send in by tuesday is ready for my review.
most of the initial structure and format of the report's first pass was generated from net data bases i pay an iCloud app fee for access to.
the app further analysed my own past work to structure the report in a way i write. (so no capitals...LOL)
home pad mini's connecting mesh for the iot makes sure it all just works.
as im reading my apple News+ the headline is that TheBase's new St. Petersburg HQ is reporting that its scheduled IPO on wall street is delayed until COVID-19 deaths begin to track more favourably upward.
...and how is it different than the human brain? There is a huge question mark until we discover the origin and essence of consciousness. It can be observed that not just humans, mammals, and all living creatures have a brain (computer) and sensor (our sensors). Mammals are closest. I used to notice our pet dog dreaming.

For machines it would start with a good enough AI to interact with humans to such a degree that we’d wonder about it’s consciousness. I don’t know if there has been an attempt to map the human brain, but I can imagine a computer with an equal or greater computational power devoted to emulating a person, put it in a humanoid body wired with sensors and we might be hard pressed to say it does not have consciousness, but does it? Is that all it takes to qualify as consciousness? Experience your surroundings and be able to consider your existence.

  • But would it be like us with a bubble of consciousness located at our heads, with a running monologue in the background, or is it just a fancy version of our PC with zero consciousness, running a really good advanced program?
  • Are we unique and different in some manner or are we just really advanced biological PCs with top notch programming?
  • Could this be achieved through pure computational power or is there another element we have not Identified which makes consciousness as we experience it? This is inevitably where discussion of the soul may appear.

Regarding Data on Star Trek, personally I was never sure about him. A computer who could think and consider, certainly aware, but consciousness like we experience it? Consider Dr. Ira Graves (Star Trek Spoiler) who transfers the entirety of his brain, the essence of it’s knowledge and memories into Data and runs amuck.

For this example if every memory you had could be captured and placed in an advanced computer, would this be you or would this just be a computer with your memories and possibly thinks it is you? Also when you consider how the brain works, think about neurons that flip one way or another, the composition of your brain (programming or physical composition) that makes you react to your world in a completely unique way as compared to how another human would react, the essence of this question then becomes what constitutes you?
 

Alli

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How do we establish consciousness? Are we conscious because we believe ourselves to be conscious?
 

lizkat

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How do we establish consciousness? Are we conscious because we believe ourselves to be conscious?

Can't tell you what a stunner it is to bump into this post as I drink a first (belated) cuppa coffee, and while peering out the window across a valley still full of that weird phenomenon called freezing fog.

I will be back later, when convinced I am conscious!

And @Huntn -- I like this thread topic a lot.
 

iMi

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Interesting post. There is one way to look at consciousness that I find compelling. If we accept that consciousness exists and is manifested in our physical realm, then it must have mass. That’s because everything in the physical realm has mass. People often equate consciousness with sprits or souls or however one wants to define human awareness, which some believe transcends the physical realm and even dimensions.

There is another element at play. Intelligent observer. I personally believe the two are closely linked. There is a prevailing quantum theory that matter and indeed reality exist and are affected by simply being observed. There is an electron particle experiment that was conducted. By simply being observed, those electrons would transform and basically become physical matter rather than exist in a state described as a wavelength or wave. Quantum physics is chuck full of bizarre observations like this one.

In short, in order to create a self-aware, conscious artificial intelligence, we’ll need to have a much deeper understanding of quantum mechanics. Just creating a machine that processes information, much as we like to think about our own brain, is not enough. No matter how powerful it becomes, it will still be just a machine. In fact, we already have supercomputers that process information much faster than the human brain. We can store more data than the human brain. Yet, something is missing... I believe “consciousness“ as we define it is the secret sauce. It’s not the result of having an advanced brain. It’s a vital part of that system.
 

Gutwrench

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It seems to me wave/particle duality is not a discovery but merely a demonstration our lack of understanding.

Viewing something from a distance may lead us to conclude one behavior, but when focused down to what we think is its smallest unit the behavior may appear contradictory.

It isn’t that the observation materially changed the behavior but rather we don’t comprehend what we are observing.

Insofar as the op - since science and philosophy can’t define consciousness then the original question is unanswerable. Are humans aware or actually a complex and sophisticated set of trip wires like the venus fly trap?
 

lizkat

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Personally after a career of writing code, debugging code, teaching code, swearing at code that attempts to build something out of nothing, the biggest problem getting AI to act like human beings is that somehow humans actually if unconsciously test a hell of a lot more code than a lot of consciously programmed modules do.

Most of us --even in the business-- have no idea how many bugs float around for years in code... just because some possibly pretty weird logical path was never tested, and so never proved in practice it would hit some code that was just stub ( a mistaken "end of the road, pal, nothing happening here") or even worse, would ask the program to eat its own next instruction and so to blow up, sometimes spectacularly.

The goal of a program is to be "idiot proof" but most programs are not actually tested by idiots, they are tested by people who are under deadlines to finish a project and who take shortcuts like "well even an idiot wouldn't do this and then try to do that..." and so vast amounts of code end up not tested before landing in production, where idiots may abound.

In the world of humans we at least usually have medications for people who just sorta short-circuit and do stuff like wrap up in plastic and take on city buses with a garbage can lid and a broomstick (like that guy The Viking on Sixth Avenue was notoriously wont to do back in the day in NYC).

In the world of AI, though, we're still pretty lucky if any other module is keeping an eye on the store of code where some instruction just lit a match to a bottle of nail polish, not even to see what happens but just because some other module said "psst hey try this now"...

Even folks who work in AI are afraid to death of the bugs in it, not least because we still don't know for sure how people acquire faculties like common sense, or are able to retrieve such information reliably when it's desperately needed.

Speaking of modules of AI doing stuff "to see what happens", it's never been clear to me how we would code an AI to be curious in a completely open-ended sense. Also unclear how dangerous that could be even if we did know how to instill that attribute.

Why are we curious? -- at least until someone -- a teacher, a parent-- tries to squash that out of us. Even lower animals apparently indulge in curiosity, else we wouldn't have that old saying that curiosity kills cats. But we don't yet really know why any of us develop curiosity past what drives us to seek essentials like water, food or shelter. Past those instinctive motivators, it would seem that curiosity is a pretty high-level, conscious endeavor.
 

niji

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... it's never been clear to me how we would code an AI to be curious in a completely open-ended sense. Also unclear how dangerous that could be even if we did know how to instill that attribute...
the person who taught me coding (Peter Zadarlik in Ithaca NY) said this to me as well. i have always thought this to be true.
i think the origin of the truth to this idea is that humans are alive. where as it is likely that any AI inspired creature will not be alive.
and it is through this live-ness that creates the capacity for exploration, emotions, empathy. etc. we are emotive beings.
persons who don't have these qualities are often charged in our society as ill (mentally ill).

therefore, at best, it is likely that any Ai inspired thing that will come to pass will be considered, at best, as a deficient human.

here is a tangentially, broadly related, interesting fact: when robots began to be "employed" in various functions in japan, the companies that introduced these robots needed to pay union dues for each robot used.
this offset union dues that would have been lost, and, helped pay for remaining people's pensions.
 
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iMi

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It seems to me wave/particle duality is not a discovery but merely a demonstration our lack of understanding.

Viewing something from a distance may lead us to conclude one behavior, but when focused down to what we think is its smallest unit the behavior may appear contradictory.

It isn’t that the observation materially changed the behavior but rather we don’t comprehend what we are observing.

Insofar as the op - since science and philosophy can’t define consciousness then the original question is unanswerable. Are humans aware or actually a complex and sophisticated set of trip wires like the venus fly trap?

That is one plausible explanation. I came across this idea while reading a book about children who remember past lives. I am not an expert by any means. I agree that it's impossible to truly answer the question. At least not yet. Science can and will in time answer the question. We're just not there yet.

Imagine if you showed a cavemen a laser pointer. It's something we obviously understand and can easily explain. It's not even going to raise eyebrows today (unless you're a cat). The caveman, on the other hand, would likely think you're a god and this magical line protruding from your finger is god-ray or some kind and probably extremely dangerous.

We don't know what we don't know yet. The "unknown, unknowns."
 
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