Great, well thought out article.
Mr Hamtastic

The rest of my articles are mostly about mathematics/computer science algorithms rather than philosophical discussions.

  1. Yes, I do believe that some sort of platform (the human body makeup, save parts that are redundant for emergence like appendix, tonsils, your hands/legs, etc. or the computer microprocessor and other necessary parts) is needed for emergence — these are the fundamental requirements. However, I argue that not *any* application can be sentient or have a mind (look at functionalism for an approach that could suggest that). Instead, I look at connectionism — the idea that neural networks are the basis for sentience and are another requirement for emergence.
  2. I haven’t read too much into quantum computing (I’ll be sure to do so this summer), but to my knowledge its unit of data is larger than the current representation (binary), and so quantum computers would be vastly more efficient than current computers, able to perform more operations. Taking the connectionism approach, if using quantum computers implies we could make neural networks the magnitude of the human brain (trillions of neurons… maybe that is a stretch but at least more than AlphaGo’s 20,000 or so) then the emergent consciousness would be much more complex, perhaps like human consciousness. I attack this claim, though, in the article. Maybe we discover an even better algorithm for achieving consciousness that demands great efficiency and computational ability, quantum computing will help us get there. Optimization is honestly the biggest bottleneck of current deep learning/AI approaches. AlphaGo took around 5 weeks to be trained and learn to play at the level it did against Lee Sedol. Probably even more, in fact. And this is with state of the art hardware (300 GPUs and all that).
  3. Interesting point. Regardless of where it lies (inside our heads or outside, in a vat), I would classify human brains as a biochemical, organic substance. Clearly, though, the brain (and the AlphaGo program) needs some sort of platform to run on, whether it be a computer microprocessor (not organic/artificial) or a human body (organic). I don’t have an answer, thus, for what role the classification of the platform, another emergent requirement, has in classifying the overall emergent sentience.
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