1. Wondering around

I happened upon this concept only recently and it caught my attention. Just to put it into some kind of context for you, I’ve been attending Lectures for the last month organised by the Escuela de Filosofia de Asturias or the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus’. The series of talks that were taking place in the “Antiguo Instituto de Gijón” was about «Women, monsters and machines» and the truth is that they have been very interesting.

I thought that this concept might be a relevant topic to contribute to our blog since it just fell into my lapMy intention with this post is simply to come together with this concept and see where it leads…

Several issues regarding this abstract idea have been drawn to my attention. On one hand, the dichotomy between artificial intelligence vs. artificial consciousness and what that artificial consciousness would mean for the coexistence between people and those «beings» with artificial consciousness.

AI is becoming more and more an integral part of our lives and routine. We understand this intelligence like the one that current machines have, which are capable of adapting to the environment in order to undertake a specific task in the most efficient way possible.
We interact with bots all the time now for a great number of requests. We can ask for the weather in a specific spot of the planet, we can request to dim the lights of our house for us and we have fridges that can make the purchase online for us. Zap, Cortana, Siri or Alexa would be up there with the best!


2. What is consciousness?

Philosophy has been dealing with this issue for as long as we care to remember. One of the most recent philosophers to address the subject was David Chalmers. Yes, these people still exist today – minus the white tunics and rarely barefoot talking alone through the agora!

 

Check out this TED talk to hear him in more detail.

In short, we could say that for Chalmers, consciousness is one of the fundamental truths of the existence of the human being. It is the knowledge that the human being has of his and her own existence. Okay, it seems that we have become too transcendental … it would be like saying that it is the inner film that we have inside our heads of which we are the main character, and we know that nobody else sees.

 

3. What would artificial consciousness look like?

We would be talking about an artificial intelligence void of a conscience. If it existed on our mobile phones, our refrigerators, microwaves, or assistance robots then they’d be aware of their own existence. They would know that they were appliances or machines that have been designed or created to perform certain functions. They would understand that their function was A or B and that under a certain order they should perform X or Y task…

Progress has been made in recent years to experiment with this concept. A very curious experiment in which three small humanoids have to solve a mystery. They are made to believe that two of them have been given a pill that prevents them from speaking (in fact what they have done to them was to press what we know as the mute button) and they have to find out which of them can continue talking. When asked «What pill did you receive?» they try to find the answer. Find out what happened next in the following video.

 

 

4. Intelligence or consciousness? Do we really want them to be conscious?

It is definitely an open debate that does not present, for the moment, a clear conclusion. From the world of science and philosophy there is no agreement on whether consciousness is really something exclusive to human beings or if, on the contrary, science and technology will be able to recreate it in an artificial system.


Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Her or the West World series are current examples of how much this issue concerns us.

Having the gift of consciousness bestowed upon us consciousness is what makes us free, is what makes us able to choose and, therefore, able to disobey what is established. One of the qualities that human beings possess. Do we really want artificial intelligence to have consciousness? Would they dream of mechanical sheep? Would they wonder where they come from and where they are going? Would they renounce their creators or creators as Frankenstein did? Would they be free and, therefore, could they refuse to comply with what human beings asked of them?

 

Lots of question awaiting us to be answered and discussed…

Resources:

 

#hiperaware #artificialconsciousness #artificialintelligence #questions #noanswers #deeplearning