Can Computers Become Conscious

Ideas from: The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Can computers become conscious? Consciousness — the feeling of subjective experience, of all your first-person sensations — While we don’t know whether or now computers can become conscious, there is a lot we do know which helps fuel this discussion.

Who is Conscious?

While we have no final resolution to the question, there is a growing consensus that animals do in fact have a degree of consciousness.

In 2012, Stephen Hawking, along with over a dozen other scientists in the field of cognitive neuroscience signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness:

the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

Gaia Hypothesis

The Gaia hypothesis states the whole Earth, the seas and rocks and plants and animals and atmosphere, are a single self-regulating entity. Said another way, the Earth has an emergent consciousness from the 20 quintillion subsystems interacting to maintain a balanced global system. Each animal is a cell in the body of the Earth, each cell contributes to the emergent entity of the whole.


8 theories for whether machines can become conscious and whether we could upload our consciousness to them:

  1. Weak Emergence
  2. Strong Emergence
  3. Physical Property of Matter
  4. Quantum Phenomenon
  5. Consciousness is Fundamental
  6. Consciousness is Universal
  7. A Trick of the Brain
  8. Something Spiritual