Note: for a discussion on the evolutionary basis for consciousness, please review part one of this series. For a discussion on the human condition with respect to consciousness, please review part two.
Will a machine ever become conscious? In order to answer that question, we must first deconstruct it. When that question is posed, it is usually asking two things: First, will machines ever be conscious in general terms (whatever that means), and second, will machines ever be conscious in the way that humans are conscious? Since the second question is the easiest to answer, I will address that one first. Continue reading
So, I watched an interesting little sci-fi movie titled The Machine, in which an android is created to infiltrate groups of people for the purpose of assassination, but which attains consciousness along the way, thereby stimulating the inevitable discussion as to whether “the machine” is alive or not, and so on. However, in watching this movie it occurred to me that by the time we create machines so intelligent that this question can seriously be asked, the answer may well be irrelevant. Continue reading
Although I often disagree with their ideology, I have no doubt that most researchers in the robotics and AI industries are highly moral people who have good intentions at heart. But then we all know what they say about good intentions.
I’d like to start off this post with a little thought experiment: specifically, what answer will we be expecting when we get to ask the AI’s for the “cure for cancer?”
If we simply pose the question as written, we might get this obvious response – in all caps, of course, because that’s how omniscient machines are supposed to talk – “THE CURE IS TO STOP EXPOSING HUMANS TO CANCER CAUSING CHEMICALS.”
…what have you done to overcome it lately?
— Thus Spoke Gruntathustra
It is an observed phenomena that when a people’s theology no longer works as a means of solace and hope for the events occurring in their daily lives, that they will either seek out a new theology that is more relevant, or they will turn internally, seeking comfort through mysticism, vision quests, whatever. After all, the Buddhists, who have been thinking and writing about this for some 2500 years, believe that the path from sorrow simply exists, both generally and uniquely, within each one of us. But what do you do when even those gods seem lacking?
One thing that has always fascinated me is this concept that machines are better than human. Certainly, machines can be made that perform very specific tasks, on average, better than a human doing the same very specific tasks, but does this really make them better than the humans they replace? Or is the idea that humans can be replaced with something better merely an offshoot of this?
…although, someday, the dumb ones may seem pretty close.
Count me as one who has always considered the Turing test a dubious and misleading examination of machine intelligence. But it does serve as a good launch point for discussing the purpose and relevance of developing intelligent machines.