Can machines be conscious?

    The Great Revolt

Moderators: Omphalos, Freakzilla, ᴶᵛᵀᴬ

User avatar
Leto Atreides II
Posts: 34
Joined: 02 Feb 2010 17:36
Location: Arrakis

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 27 Feb 2010 14:24

MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:
MrFlibble wrote:What's your definition of "consciousness", then?

Awareness. Not merely to see, but to be aware of seeing.

So "awareness" = 'knowledge of oneself'? How do you define "knowledge"?


Knowledge isn't the word I'd use; it's a tad ambiguous.

Do we define 'knowledge' as the 'possessing of information'? Then I would equate 'knowledge' with data storage, memory, etc.

Do we define 'knowledge' as 'consciousness'/'awareness'? Then perhaps I could use it as a synonym for these.

I see the soul as sitting in the mind observing the thoughts and sensations and data... while a small construct in the mind, the 'ego', cries out "I! Me! I! Me!" and the incautious soul assumes that the ego is itself... and thus also the mind and the body and all else directly connected to the ego... encaged in flesh, sundered from the Universal consciousness, the soul, believing that the fleshly body is itself, fears death and struggles to serve the needs and desires of the body. But then death overtakes it, and the rubber soul snaps back into the greater Universal consciousness, until desire for experience draws it once more into the womb to wear flesh again...

A fleshly animal, such as a human, is an animated chemical reaction, ridden by an appreciative entity which observes and experiences. Our body and our life are the art; the soul is the critic.

Can a human live without a soul? I suspect it would be possible on life support. But it would sit and stare blankly, and exert no volition. Left to itself, animation would cease and biodegradation would set in.

If steam is life and water is death, heat is the soul that drives life. Heat also exists without water to be driven by that heat; so the lack of steam is not the lack of heat (analogue: If an animal is life and rotting meat is death... Life exists without flesh, so the lack of an animal is not the lack of life).

Sorry about rambling. I have a hard time expressing my views on this particular subject.
Only fools prefer the past!

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 27 Feb 2010 15:15

SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:The brain may store data and intelligence, it may compute and think, but I do not believe a brain generates awareness or consciousness.

:roll:

Yeah, I'm with Chig, having to add come kind of "magic" to the equation (souls) just because we're to egotistical to admit that we are just fleshy computers is BS. There is no soul. I feel completely confident that one we have the brain all mapped out and understood it will explain every inch of what we consider consciousness.

But - if you don't believe that a brain creates consciousness then of course you don't believe machines could ever be conscious. I'm not going to argue with you on that because you obviously have decided as thoroughly as I oppose the idea that consciousness requires the supernatural.
Image

User avatar
Leto Atreides II
Posts: 34
Joined: 02 Feb 2010 17:36
Location: Arrakis

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 27 Feb 2010 20:21

A Thing of Eternity wrote:
SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:The brain may store data and intelligence, it may compute and think, but I do not believe a brain generates awareness or consciousness.

:roll:

Yeah, I'm with Chig, having to add come kind of "magic" to the equation (souls) just because we're to egotistical to admit that we are just fleshy computers is BS. There is no soul. I feel completely confident that one we have the brain all mapped out and understood it will explain every inch of what we consider consciousness.

But - if you don't believe that a brain creates consciousness then of course you don't believe machines could ever be conscious. I'm not going to argue with you on that because you obviously have decided as thoroughly as I oppose the idea that consciousness requires the supernatural.

Supernatural? Magic? I'm talking about energy. This is no more magical or supernatural than electrons, protons, quarks, microwaves or radio waves. Even our fleshly bodies ultimately reduce to charges of energy; why should the consciousness principle be any different?
Only fools prefer the past!

User avatar
Aquila ka-Hecate
Posts: 237
Joined: 21 Feb 2010 06:52
Location: Johannesburg
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 27 Feb 2010 23:15

There's a reason the consciousness question is known as the hard problem. It's too damned hard for me, and I was educated as a physicist. :D

Personally, I'd like to chime in leaning slightly towards Leto II's side.
The problem I run up against every time is that the strictly materialist stance - that you put enough cells together and somehow consciousness emerges -doesn't explain anything.

Yes, we certainly don't have enough knowledge, and perhaps we will come to a fuller understanding in time.
But for now I leave my options open as to the question of how (never mind why) a collection of meat becomes reflexively self aware, although I have my own biases, of course, which shouldn't be mistaken for scientific knowledge under any circumstances.

User avatar
SandChigger
KJASF Ground Zero
Posts: 14492
Joined: 08 Feb 2008 22:29
Location: A continuing state of irritation
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 28 Feb 2010 00:48

Exactly. It's religion, not science.

Show me your "soul" or shut up about it, because if you can't prove its existence empirically, it's irrelevant to any practical discussion.

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 28 Feb 2010 00:49

Leto Atreides II wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:
SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:The brain may store data and intelligence, it may compute and think, but I do not believe a brain generates awareness or consciousness.

:roll:

Yeah, I'm with Chig, having to add come kind of "magic" to the equation (souls) just because we're to egotistical to admit that we are just fleshy computers is BS. There is no soul. I feel completely confident that one we have the brain all mapped out and understood it will explain every inch of what we consider consciousness.

But - if you don't believe that a brain creates consciousness then of course you don't believe machines could ever be conscious. I'm not going to argue with you on that because you obviously have decided as thoroughly as I oppose the idea that consciousness requires the supernatural.

Supernatural? Magic? I'm talking about energy. This is no more magical or supernatural than electrons, protons, quarks, microwaves or radio waves. Even our fleshly bodies ultimately reduce to charges of energy; why should the consciousness principle be any different?


Yeah... when you start adding words like "soul" it 99.999999999% of the time means that a person is thinking of "extra" energy that can't be measured and some how isn't caused or sorted by our physical brain. Obviously "consciousness" is energy - but it's not just energy, it's patterned energy.

If you're talking about just regular old scientific energy, then what exactly is so special about our consciousness that you can't accept that it is caused by our brain?

I'm a bit lost on your stance now, maybe a little background on whether you're coming at this from a spiritual or atheist point of veiw might help me sort out what you mean by "soul".
Image

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 28 Feb 2010 00:56

SandChigger wrote:Exactly. It's religion, not science.

Show me your "soul" or shut up about it, because if you can't prove its existence empirically, it's irrelevant to any practical discussion.


Exactly, with a possible exception if the person bringing it up qualifies their statement by letting everyone know they are aproaching the issue from a spiritual standpoint.

Anyone who believes in the supernatural/gods/afterlives will automatically be skewed against believing that consciousness arises from the computer that is our brain, patterning energy into our minds. If one believes that the mind can arise from "simple" matter and energy then that kinda removes the need for the entire concept of soul, which is (I would imagine) unacceptable to a "believer".
Image

User avatar
Aquila ka-Hecate
Posts: 237
Joined: 21 Feb 2010 06:52
Location: Johannesburg
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 28 Feb 2010 01:08

As a former hard materialist, I'm aware that my present position cannot be defended in rational argument - so I don't even try, usually.

For me, it's down to the experiences of life so far as well as a good deal of thought. But it is a highly personal view, and I mostly do shut up about it - except on my blog, which functions as a sort of online diary and thought-collector.

I don't believe anything much, but I do have biases, and most religious folks consider me to still be an Atheist - which I suppose I am, since my core thought is that we're all God.

See? Indefensible position. From both sides. :D

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 28 Feb 2010 01:16

Sounds like a good ol' pantheist, my favourite kind of theist! :D
Image

User avatar
SandRider
Watermaster
Posts: 6163
Joined: 05 Oct 2008 16:14
Location: In the back of your mind. Always.
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandRider » 28 Feb 2010 02:19

I'm a born again pagan .... :orcs-cheers:
................ I exist only to amuse myself ................
ImageImage

I personally feel that this message board, Jacurutu, is full of hateful folks who don't know
how to fully interact with people.
~ "Spice Grandson" (Bryon Merrit) 08 June 2008

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 28 Feb 2010 02:28

I'm a born again atheist.

I was born one, was breifly converted to agnosticism, then quickly was born again an atheist. :D
Image

User avatar
Omphalos
Inglorious Bastard
Posts: 6677
Joined: 05 Feb 2008 11:07
Location: The Mighty Central Valley of California
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Omphalos » 28 Feb 2010 03:29

I'm Catholic by association. Got it right now where I get no shit whatsoever for missing church, but I wonder how long that'll last.

User avatar
Aquila ka-Hecate
Posts: 237
Joined: 21 Feb 2010 06:52
Location: Johannesburg
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 28 Feb 2010 05:10

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Sounds like a good ol' pantheist, my favourite kind of theist! :D


Yes. About 14 billion years old, to be a bit vague about it. :lol:

MrFlibble
Posts: 314
Joined: 06 Jan 2010 11:25

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby MrFlibble » 28 Feb 2010 09:36

Leto Atreides II wrote:And yet life without awareness would be a mechanical (chemical) process. A carbon-based organism could easily go through a set of motions which preserved its physical integrity, without being aware of anything.

Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:But for now I leave my options open as to the question of how (never mind why) a collection of meat becomes reflexively self aware

A partial answer to this question is that life as we define it is driven by the need to adapt and survive. Apparently, "awareness" and "consciousness" turned out to be the developments that are beneficial to adaptation and survival.

The real problem of "consciousness" arises from the fact that the illusion of mind-body dualism comes as something that is self-evident, while actually it is not. To quote philosopher Mark Johnson:
Why should it seem so obvious to most people that mind and body are two, not one? One important reason is that our lived experience itself reinforces an apparently inescapable dualistic view of mind versus body. We don't have to work to ignore the working of our bodies. On the contrary, our bodies hide themselves from us in their very acts of making meaning and experience possible.
[...]
For example, our acts of seeing are directed toward and focused on what we see. Our intentionality seems to be directed "out there" into the world. The mechanisms of our vision are not, and cannot be, the focus of our awareness and attention. We are aware of what we see, but not of our seeing. The bodily processes hide, in order to make it possible our fluid, automatic experiencing of the world.
[...]
In addition to focal disappearance of our perceptual organs, there is also a necessary "background disappearance" of other processes and activities that make perception possible, processes of which we are seldom, if ever, aware. This includes such things as the complex of bodily adjustments and movements that make it possible for a certain perception to occur. [...] When I reach out to pick a cup, I am not aware of the multitude of fine motor adjustments or the ongoing cooperation of hand and eye that make it possible for me to locate and touch the handle of the cup.
[...]
Another major type of bodily disappearance is based on the recession of the internal organs and processes throughout nearly all of our experience. [...] [T]hese systems underlie some of our most powerful experiences, even though we are almost never aware of their operations, and some are simply inaccessible to conscious awareness. To cite just one salient example, our emotional experience depends on complex neuronal and endocrine processes, although we typically cannot have a felt awareness of those processes. The result is that we feel a feeling, but we never feel out internal organs generating that feeling.
[...]
In short, the body does its marvelous work for the most part behind the scenes, so that we can focus on the objects of our desire and attention.
[...]
The principal result of these forms of bodily disappearance is our sense that our thoughts, and even our feelings, go on somehow independent of our bodily processes.

(from The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding, pp. 4-6)

Henceforth, it can be assumed that the "background disappearance" of bodily functions is also beneficial for the organism, as it does not waste its attention on these processes as far as everything works normally, and focus on activities necessary for adaptation and survival.

A Thing of Eternity wrote:consciousness arises from the computer that is our brain, patterning energy into our minds.

Just o make things clear, does this imply that you agree with the "string AI" hypothesis that an artificial mind can be built using the same principles as modern computers? Or was the phrase "the computer that is our brain" purely metaphorical?
WHAT IF YOU NO LONGER HEAR THE MUSIC OF LIFE?
MEMORIES ARE NOT ENOUGH UNLESS THEY CALL YOU TO NOBLE PURPOSE!

User avatar
SandChigger
KJASF Ground Zero
Posts: 14492
Joined: 08 Feb 2008 22:29
Location: A continuing state of irritation
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 28 Feb 2010 12:18

MrFlibble wrote:Apparently, "awareness" and "consciousness" turned out to be the developments that are beneficial to adaptation and survival.

That's how the clawless, fangless, hairless monkeys got to the top of the foodchain. ;)

User avatar
reverendmotherQ.
Posts: 274
Joined: 05 Feb 2010 15:38
Location: Cylon Colony
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby reverendmotherQ. » 28 Feb 2010 12:20

I heard an awesome quote on Caprica, which doesn't mean it's credible or valid, just somethng to ponder:
"This is beyond artificial intelligence, this is sentient."
Hmm. :contemplative face:

User avatar
SandRider
Watermaster
Posts: 6163
Joined: 05 Oct 2008 16:14
Location: In the back of your mind. Always.
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandRider » 28 Feb 2010 14:19

hey, speaking of Caprica, anybody else see military school in Willie Adama's future ? :cylon101:
................ I exist only to amuse myself ................
ImageImage

I personally feel that this message board, Jacurutu, is full of hateful folks who don't know
how to fully interact with people.
~ "Spice Grandson" (Bryon Merrit) 08 June 2008

User avatar
Crysknife
Posts: 593
Joined: 09 Feb 2008 02:15
Location: SLC, punk

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Crysknife » 28 Feb 2010 14:30

It took nature 4 billion years through evolution to create a structure complex enough to become self aware. Just as we have a hard time creating an artificial muscle, which took much less time for nature to produce, we will have a hard time creating something that is conscious.

We've only had about 50 good years dealing with mechanical brains of any sort, but to say we will never make something that can be self aware and intelligent goes against our one example that nature has already produced. There is no magic or spirits needed to explain complexity. If you pump in enough energy into something, it will have every opportunity to generate enough complexity to even surpass us. It's a large universe, to say that we are the pinnacle of consciousness is a gross misconception.
Image

User avatar
Hunchback Jack
Posts: 1983
Joined: 30 May 2008 15:02
Location: California, USA

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Hunchback Jack » 28 Feb 2010 15:14

Yeah, I see things the same way. If you believe that self-awareness, or consciousness, or sentience, are purely a by-product of the electro-chemical processes occurring in our brain (which I do), then I think it's inevitable that we will create a machine that will replicate that. Provided we don't destroy ourselves first, of course. (See Sagan)

Of course, whether we can actually tell whether what we've created is *really* self-aware is another matter. (See Turing)

HBJ
"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
- Carl Sagan

I'm still very proud of The Quarry but … let's face it; in the end the real best way to sign off would have been with a great big rollicking Culture novel.
- Iain Banks

User avatar
SadisticCynic
Posts: 2053
Joined: 07 Apr 2009 09:28
Location: In Time or in Space?

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SadisticCynic » 28 Feb 2010 19:00

Hunchback Jack wrote:Yeah, I see things the same way. If you believe that self-awareness, or consciousness, or sentience, are purely a by-product of the electro-chemical processes occurring in our brain (which I do), then I think it's inevitable that we will create a machine that will replicate that. Provided we don't destroy ourselves first, of course. (See Sagan)

Of course, whether we can actually tell whether what we've created is *really* self-aware is another matter. (See Turing)

HBJ


The halting problem forms a major part of Penrose's argument against 'strong AI' although he uses Turing as an alternative (and easier) way of understanding Godel's theorem which amounts to a similar thing. Personally I quite like some of Penrose's (somewhat extreme I'll admit) speculation that physics may ultimately be non-computational.

MrFlibble: I'll get a look at Searle's article later (I need more time than I have right now) but I do recall Penrose mentioning his 'Chinese Room' argument. Unfortunately I think Dennett makes a good point in his (irritatingly named) Consciousness Explained that the man in the machine of Searle's thought experiment does not constitute the entirety of the machine itself and thus does not necessarily demonstrate that the apparently conscious machine is not conscious. A similar example would be saying that the amygdala (first part of the brain that came to mind) is conscious because it processes isome of the information in the brain - I think... :think:
Ah English, the language where pretty much any word can have any meaning! - A Thing of Eternity

User avatar
Hunchback Jack
Posts: 1983
Joined: 30 May 2008 15:02
Location: California, USA

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Hunchback Jack » 01 Mar 2010 04:31

SadisticCynic wrote:Personally I quite like some of Penrose's (somewhat extreme I'll admit) speculation that physics may ultimately be non-computational.


I must admit, that idea appeals to me as well, for no legitimate reason.

HBJ
"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
- Carl Sagan

I'm still very proud of The Quarry but … let's face it; in the end the real best way to sign off would have been with a great big rollicking Culture novel.
- Iain Banks

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 01 Mar 2010 14:46

MrFlibble wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:consciousness arises from the computer that is our brain, patterning energy into our minds.

Just o make things clear, does this imply that you agree with the "string AI" hypothesis that an artificial mind can be built using the same principles as modern computers? Or was the phrase "the computer that is our brain" purely metaphorical?


I'm not familiar with that hypothesis, but I think from what you mention here that I do not really agree with it, we will probably have to make major advancements in hardware before we can make real progress on AI software. We may for example find out that a lot of what causes consciousness relies on "mistakes" made by fleshy hardware. I don't think it would be impossible to create AI in a very advanced computer just like the ones we have now, but I think the quicker path would be to make hardware/programing that more closely resembles organic structures/processes. Hard for me to say, I haven't done enough reading into the non-binary aspects of our brains (as in, I don't really know what I'm talking about in that area), and I'm not convinced we even really know enough yet to say one way or another what will be necessary for AI. We may have to grow organic components, who knows.

"the computer that is our brain" was a metaphor, reminding people that our brain computes things, and is not a magical device.
Image

MrFlibble
Posts: 314
Joined: 06 Jan 2010 11:25

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby MrFlibble » 01 Mar 2010 15:36

SadisticCynic wrote:MrFlibble: I'll get a look at Searle's article later (I need more time than I have right now) but I do recall Penrose mentioning his 'Chinese Room' argument. Unfortunately I think Dennett makes a good point in his (irritatingly named) Consciousness Explained that the man in the machine of Searle's thought experiment does not constitute the entirety of the machine itself and thus does not necessarily demonstrate that the apparently conscious machine is not conscious. A similar example would be saying that the amygdala (first part of the brain that came to mind) is conscious because it processes isome of the information in the brain - I think... :think:

Searle does address this argument too, and I think the way he counters it is quite reasonable:
I. The systems reply (Berkeley). "While it is true that the individual person who is locked in the room does not understand the story, the fact is that he is merely part of a whole system, and the system does understand the story. The person has a large ledger in front of him in which are written the rules, he has a lot of scratch paper and pencils for doing calculations, he has 'data banks' of sets of Chinese symbols. Now, understanding is not being ascribed to the mere individual; rather it is being ascribed to this whole system of which he is a part."

My response to the systems theory is quite simple: let the individual internalize all of these elements of the system. He memorizes the rules in the ledger and the data banks of Chinese symbols, and he does all the calculations in his head. The individual then incorporates the entire system. There isn't anything at all to the system that he does not encompass. We can even get rid of the room and suppose he works outdoors. All the same, he understands nothing of the Chinese, and a fortiori neither does the system, because there isn't anything in the system that isn't in him. If he doesn't understand, then there is no way the system could understand because the system is just a part of him.

Actually I feel somewhat embarrassed to give even this answer to the systems theory because the theory seems to me so implausible to start with. The idea is that while a person doesn't understand Chinese, somehow the conjunction of that person and bits of paper might understand Chinese. It is not easy for me to imagine how someone who was not in the grip of an ideology would find the idea at all plausible. Still, I think many people who are committed to the ideology of strong AI will in the end be inclined to say something very much like this; so let us pursue it a bit further. According to one version of this view, while the man in the internalized systems example doesn't understand Chinese in the sense that a native Chinese speaker does (because, for example, he doesn't know that the story refers to restaurants and hamburgers, etc.), still "the man as a formal symbol manipulation system" really does understand Chinese. The subsystem of the man that is the formal symbol manipulation system for Chinese should not be confused with the subsystem for English.

So there are really two subsystems in the man; one understands English, the other Chinese, and "it's just that the two systems have little to do with each other." But, I want to reply, not only do they have little to do with each other, they are not even remotely alike. The subsystem that understands English (assuming we allow ourselves to talk in this jargon of "subsystems" for a moment) knows that the stories are about restaurants and eating hamburgers, he knows that he is being asked questions about restaurants and that he is answering questions as best he can by making various inferences from the content of the story, and so on. But the Chinese system knows none of this. Whereas the English subsystem knows that "hamburgers" refers to hamburgers, the Chinese subsystem knows only that "squiggle squiggle" is followed by "squoggle squoggle." All he knows is that various formal symbols are being introduced at one end and manipulated according to rules written in English, and other symbols are going out at the other end.

The whole point of the original example was to argue that such symbol manipulation by itself couldn't be sufficient for understanding Chinese in any literal sense because the man could write "squoggle squoggle" after "squiggle squiggle" without understanding anything in Chinese. And it doesn't meet that argument to postulate subsystems within the man, because the subsystems are no better off than the man was in the first place; they still don't have anything even remotely like what the English-speaking man (or subsystem) has. Indeed, in the case as described, the Chinese subsystem is simply a part of the English subsystem, a part that engages in meaningless symbol manipulation according to rules in English.


A Thing of Eternity wrote:"the computer that is our brain" was a metaphor, reminding people that our brain computes things, and is not a magical device.

Heh, I think I could, metaphorically, refer to brain as a "magical device", taking into account how little we yet understand of its workings (although the term "black box" would be more appropriate). And let us not forget that some like to postulate various computer-like "magical devices" within the brain ;)
WHAT IF YOU NO LONGER HEAR THE MUSIC OF LIFE?
MEMORIES ARE NOT ENOUGH UNLESS THEY CALL YOU TO NOBLE PURPOSE!

User avatar
SandRider
Watermaster
Posts: 6163
Joined: 05 Oct 2008 16:14
Location: In the back of your mind. Always.
Contact:

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandRider » 01 Mar 2010 16:56

tl;dr: most of this thread

what that (as yet) unknown intelligent "spark" is in the human brain, whether "spiritual" or bio-chemical is a different question -

No-one has yet explained to me how a man-made machine can "exceed its programming" ...

I will concede that a machine could be built that would simulate independent "consciousness",
and materials and robotics could advance to the point that a "replicant" would be indistinguishable
from an actual human (except to Rick Deckard, but he was replicant, too), and I will concede they
could be programmed to build more machines like themselves, independently, (thus "procreating")
and so may in some stretch be considered a new "lifeform" in a way, or "sentient being" (or self-aware or what-have-you)
but
they will still be machines; how can a program innovate independently ? (outside of a comic book ?)

Can machines be conscious ? no, not the SciFi sense ....
................ I exist only to amuse myself ................
ImageImage

I personally feel that this message board, Jacurutu, is full of hateful folks who don't know
how to fully interact with people.
~ "Spice Grandson" (Bryon Merrit) 08 June 2008

User avatar
A Thing of Eternity
Posts: 6090
Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
Location: Calgary Alberta

Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 01 Mar 2010 17:29

That argument relies on proving that we are in fact actually conscious and have freewill, something that to my knowledge we have not yet done. For all we know we could simply be very good imitations of consciousness and freewill. For all intents and purposes I live my life as if I have free will, and I think I do, in fact I'm sure I do - but wouldn't a machine programmed to simulate free will and consciousness think that?

You ask if a machine could "rise above its programming," I agree that that is an important question, but not as important as "have we risen above our programming?"

That's why I mentioned the idea that flaws might be necessary to create freewill and consciousness, a randomization that simulates/creates original thought. Maybe the limitations and miss-firings in our brain are part of what makes us conscious, and as such a machine would have to be built where the hardware itself was flawed in just the right way.

I can't remember the author, but he wrote all those Berserker stories (giant AI spaceships programmed to kill everything everywhere), he came up with essentially the same concept. Every AI had at a radioactive core, and the random decay of the particles was what causes the machine to be conscious, by adding some randomization.
Image