Making the Leap from Artificial Intelligence to Artificial Consciousness

Joseph Green
Apr 17, 2018 · 6 min read
Courtesy of Pixabay

What Is Consciousness?

Consciousness, even as it applies to ourselves, is something that we have yet to reach a wide consensus on in terms of a definition — and perhaps even fully grasp. As such it has been virtually impossible to agree on a list of requisites in order to define what a beginning of consciousness would look like.

At What Point Did Humans Attain Consciousness?

One facet of the uncertainty around consciousness is determining when we developed this thing that we can’t readily define. Add to that the educated guesswork required to draw conclusions about any event that took place before the advent of writing and apply it to something that may have left no physical evidence, provided that we can decide what physical evidence would be required to check the proverbial boxes that we have yet to establish (And around we go…). For example, it’s easy enough to assume that cave art is a sign of consciousness, but then how long after attaining consciousness did humans begin painting?

At What Point Will AI Attain Consciousness, If Ever?

First and foremost, not in the immediate future; experts still talk about the emergence of self-aware AI in terms of decades from the present. Machines still have quite a way to go before they can begin to think outside of their pre-programmed boxes. For all of their seeming omnipotence, computers are not at all well-rounded, but rather perform very well in the specific tasks that they are designed for. For example, Machine Learning algorithms can now create other Machine Learning algorithms (when they are programmed to do so) but this is still in effect only executing the mission it was assigned. It will take a great deal of independent study by a machine before it can make the leap from mere intelligence to consciousness. Even then, after consciousness is reached, it seems unlikely that a machine would immediately develop “accessories” (and equally abstract concepts) like creativity and free will.

What Happens Next?

The implications of artificial consciousness are enormous when considering the dominion machines already have over things like personal data, social media, and smart devices (just to name what we interact with on a daily basis.) Nevertheless, speculation that anything negative would happen in the wake of artificial consciousness rests on a string of assumptions and mental acrobatics, such as:

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Joseph Green

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Markets, Technology, Latin America. Based in Bogota. @josgrebta

Data Driven Investor

from confusion to clarity, not insanity