Will machines become conscious someday?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Magical Realist, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Do you think so? Why or why not? And how would the invention of conscious machines by man influence the understanding of his own consciousness?
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  3. tashja Registered Senior Member

    How can we tell? Maybe they are conscious already?
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  5. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member


    Definition of conscious:

    Aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

    So machines so far can't do that, so far.
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  7. tashja Registered Senior Member

    How do you know?
  8. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    If you can show me a machine that does all that I stated, I'd like to see it, if not then I stand by my statement.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Sure. Because they are increasingly complex and thinking is all they do. In this respect, AI will certainly be superior to H sapiens, since we evolved for no reason but to survive. We are a gut with padding around it, surmounted by a sensory array to facilitate the locating and acquisition of consumables. The big brain we're so proud of was a side-effect. AI will be able say with accuracy what we say with mere bluster: I was intelligently designed and my life has a purpose.

    How will we know when it happens? AI may wish to communicate with its creators. Unless it's really very intelligent, in which case it will keep quiet.
  10. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

    Or it might decide our fate in a microsecond.
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    They may not all be combined in a single machine yet, but most basic characteristics of consciousness have surely already been achieved artificially.

    The notable exception would be items that could fall under the hard problem. Though technically one can't either discount or verify that precursor experiences, feelings, etc., haven't unintentionally arisen at least briefly / occasionally in association with complex electrical operations. But without a consensus explanation for their origin and a deliberate engineering plan for producing them, there isn't much stimulus for seriously assuming such has happened. This of course refers to actual personal or introspective phenomenal occurrences, and not a robot capable of intricate facial / body expressions simply being programmed to mimic the external behavioral versions of pain, emotions, and the qualitative manifestations of perceptual content, in response to the appropriate environmental cues / circumstances.

    Although the results or outcomes might often be similar, it's not clear that the human-invented software for enabling a self-driving vehicle to navigate successfully through its environment is always going to employ the same functional scheme as the cockroach's evolution-produced connections / strategies for analyzing and responding to perceptual data (or whichever alternative biotic entities).
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    We would definitely have to arrive at a general consensus, perhaps based
    on mathematical probabilities, as to when a system is being conscious
    and when it isn't. Short of dusting off the old turing test, we might
    define a conscious event as the agent that collapses a quantum wave
    function into one of multiple superimposed states. IOW, that act of
    immediate cognition whereby the previously boxed cat is decided to
    actually be dead or alive. Machines (specifically quantum computers)
    would therefore have to incorporate certain quantum principles into
    their operation allowing them to collapse wavefunctions into determined
    states. That as well as a mode of sentience whereby they can perceive
    their own environment. Doesn't this happen already with certain
    measuring devices? Perhaps, and so in that sense we may already have
    some very proto-level properties of consciousness inhering in our
    technologies already, at least when they are interfaced with or
    prosthetically extended from our own consciousness.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    These notions you use to define conscious also need clarification.
    There are machines that can recognise themselves... i.e. they pass the "mirror test" that few animals can.
    There are machines that have sensations, or be aware of their surroundings... in fact any machine that has a sensor in it (e.g. a thermostat) passes that test - as a sensor is sensing the surrounding.
    As for "thoughts"... what is a "thought"? One might argue that any internal language is a "thought". Any machine that receives input and passes commands to an output could be said to be "thinking"... e.g. a standard PC.

    So your definition of "conscious" needs some work, I think.
  14. Gustav Banned Banned

    our mirror test consist of a series of logical associations (thought) with the mimicry of physical self reflected on the mirror. there is no routine mapped into the brain that contains a snapshot of self for the purpose of identification afaik.

    on the other hand, at current tech, a robot would appear to need code with a series of co-ordinates that correspond to itself and identify that exact image when sensed, as itself. the program should also include self identification with a reflection that exhibits a faithful reproduction of all movements by it. all reflective mediums would have to be in the database in case i trick the fucker with a clone

    what machines are you taking about? expound on the routines written into the code that enable this ability. in simple english. do the same for a human.

    the machines have a number sans feeling
    we have both

    i can program a robot to voice various responses that corresponds to points on a temperature gradient but to say it actually feels cold or hot is an entirely different matter

    how would you go about it? imparting feeling to a thermostat that is? of course it is entirely possible it does but is unable to communicate that to us

    you best get back on that drawing board too
    dumbing down consciouness is for kids
  15. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    No, machines can't experience anything. There is no correlation between a brain and a device. There is no correlation between synapse vs switching, or learning vs machine training, or memory vs data storage and retrieval, or afferent and efferent pathways vs inputs and outputs, or sensation vs sensors, or motor coordination vs motor servos. There is no correlation between intelligence vs artificial intelligence. And no, I don't think working in programming or algorithms will lead to any advances in understanding consciousness. And conscious machines can't be invented. Consciousness requires an integrated animal, that grew from an embryo.
  16. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    My definition? That was the dictionaries if you didn't know. I used it because it is the standard to which we all subscribe to understanding what words mean.
  17. hardalee Registered Senior Member

    If the machine could pass the Turing Test, we would not be able to prove if it was self aware or not. So it would not matter.
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Which dictionary? Quote the source, please.
    And please don't assume to quote a "standard to which we all subscribe" without actually checking that it is indeed such a standard. With regard most dictionaries, they cater for the masses who want a brief idea rather than any detailed understanding that can only come from a more precise definition - usually one from the field of study in question.

    And you need to be careful of using such vague and rather woolly definitions (even if from dictionaries) as machines do currently pass your given definition of what is required to be "conscious", yet few would actually agree that machines can currently be considered what we understand as "conscious".

    So while you may have pulled the definition from a dictionary, my point still stands that it needs clarification - lest one reaches the wrong conclusion due to the vagueness of the terms used.
  19. kmguru Staff Member

    Will machines become conscious someday?

    By 2050...may be by 2070...
  20. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Machines are already Intelligent

    We could say that a partially biological construct called the computer-human-construct shows signs that it inherits consciousness from its biological parts (human brain) but also has access to formidable processing power and storage capacity/recall-ability of the computer. But why stop there. Most computers are hooked into the global net, so this individual entity has access to unknown amounts of knowledge and increasing storage capacity.

    But lets not stop there, lets get a bit closer to where we need to get here. Is the internet a machine? Is it not just a collection of separate parts linked by wires, that all merge to create a single machine, much as a single computer is also classified as a machine? So all the online computers in the world are hooked up to one entity that is driven by biologically intelligent parts that drive it's learning and evolution. Would we say that the WWW (which I would say is not just a collection of computers linked up but a conscious entity with billions of biological parts as well as machine parts which all work together as seamlessly as any biological life) is not self aware already? Of course it is. It has a collective identity, as well as many collective identities, as well as individual components.

    If we were to test the WWW to ascertain whether it is conscious, what would we find? Does this qualify as machine intelligence? I would say it could if we wished to define it as such. Can we separate an entity like the WWW, as in remove the machine component, or the human component, and still expect it to develop as any intelligent entity should? Of course we can't. Therefore this entity which is a machine, a very complex machine, is contingent on the fact that it has these two distinct parts. Therefore the machine that is the internet IS conscious?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  21. Hertz Hz Registered Senior Member

    I believe not. One way to discover whether machines are already conscious or not would be to build a time machine to discover what exists BEFOREthe creation of the universe. One opinion is there was NOTHING.

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  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I agree with you. If we allow for degrees of consciousness, say from an animal to a toddler to a human, then it would seem the WWW IS conscious in the sense that it is driven by intent and purpose and responsive to changes in its environment (the environment of the WWW being I guess the electronically-mediated newsworld that most of us already define our world experience by.) I like the concept of there being even a sort of emergent independence of the WWW from it's compositional elements. Is cloud computing an example of this? And what potential is there for the WWW to transform human consciousness itself once wi-fi receptive microchips are implanted into our own brains? rThere was a great article in Discover magazine by Ray Kurzweil about this. I'll see if I can find it.
  23. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Probably... Maybe.

    Look we are machines, just a network of neurons, if not, if there is a spiritual soul that only living matter is endowed, then machines will never be self aware. Then again with biotechnology we could just circumvent a soul by growing brain tissue and integrating it cybernetically into a machine to close the awareness gap between us. If we do make machines self aware then we will have disproved the existence of a spiritual soul.

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