Why Machines May Already Have Consciousness

Guest Post by David Stephen who argues that machines may have already passed the point where the Turing test is a meaningful hurdle for assessing AI.

There is a recent article in the NYTimes ‘Consciousness’ in Robots Was Once Taboo. Now It’s the Last Word exploring a functional theory of consciousness as a possible measure to build something with that capability. The article stated that, “The first difficulty with studying [consciousness] is that there is no consensus around what it actually refers to. The fundamental difference among types of consciousness — human consciousness and octopus consciousness and rat consciousness, for example — is how far into the future an entity is able to imagine itself. So eventually these machines will be able to understand what they are, and what they think. That leads to emotions, and other things.”

Why Machines May Already Have Consciousness

What is Consciousness?

If the ability for imagination is consciousness, what does it mean to be conscious during dreamless deep sleep, or in a coma, or under general anesthesia? Besides, what can be imagined if the contents of imagination are not known? Also, thinking is what, an isolated quantity, or a quantity that is predicated on properties, or things that are also known? Emotions may be isolated, but it must also be known that this emotion is happening, not just its presence, but to know.

In deep sleep, under general anesthesia and in a coma, regulation or control of internal senses continues. Regulation or control are actions that give limits and extents of functions to internal senses. Limits and extents or operational boundaries are given from what is known, meaning that knowing also happens for the body—without awareness.

Knowing—within the human system—is by the memory. The memory is within the mind, subject to the mechanisms of the mind. The extent of what can be known in any instance is limited. It is difficult to write differently with both hands at the same time, even if both hands can, because knowing in any process is only possible with one prioritized quantity. Or, there is just one thing prioritized on the mind in any instance, with the full access to acquire what can be known.

Consciousness is a factor of the human mind. The human mind is within the brain, though it has a different structure and function.

Consciousness can be defined as the rate at which any system can know, with a highest rate of 1. Any system that can know is conscious, but rating varies. Consciousness is not present in all physical systems. Consciousness is not the presence of molecules, or motion. It is not also the presence of adaptation.

Bricks cannot feel, same with wood, steel, liquid, gas and so forth. They have molecules, their molecules adapt to external forces, but their molecules do not have the ability to know what is happening to them individually or to do collectively.

Machine Consciousness

Computers cannot feel, but computers know things. Intelligence is often used for machines, but consciousness, because of feelings, is often exempted for them. Machines can answer questions, they can compute, they can engage in aspects of human communication, or some of the core of human consciousness. For computers, knowing that X is this, or Y is that is also that they are conscious of things, which gives them a rating on the scale that is not 0.

Machines already have consciousness, but of a low rating. This applies also to animals as well as to plants. Consciousness—at the rate of 1—is for an ideal human with full awareness, attention, memory and feeling in a moment. Or, more directly, the quantities in the mind, with seamless prioritization and pre-prioritization exchanges, acquiring properties at a rate for heightened awareness, internally and externally.

Smoke detectors can restrictively detect a ‘smell’ type. Sensors can know things and tell. These are part of the core of human consciousness already possible by machines. Overall, they have no emotions, but it is possible to give them a simulation of that ability, as commands. For example, to weep, when X happens. Or, to know that this should be done, when that happens.

Machines will get more intelligent with time, knowing more and processing more, raising their rate of consciousness. However, simulating the human mind, or the possibility for every part of the system to be available to consciousness—or knowing, may remain elusive.

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