Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Gertie
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Gertie » July 22nd, 2017, 7:02 am

Woodart
Woodart wrote:
Gertie wrote:
You might enjoy Churchland's take on this, here's a brief summary in a talk she gave -
Wow – what a powerful woman and thinker!
Is she saying that oxytocin is produced as a function of wanting to eat more food in order to keep warm and survive? Why is oxytocin involved in the initiation of maternal behavior and morality? Is the answer that oxytocin precipitates a pleasure response and we want to increase pleasure? Is pleasure the driver for oxytocin production via eating food – having sex – bonding pleasure?
Yeah, fascinating stuff! She has longer lectures on youtube and a book called Braintrust if you want to delve deeper.

As I understand it, the story goes that being warm blooded gives a critter an evolutionary edge, to hunt and forage at night when it's colder, and expand into less hospital territory.

But keeping your blood warm uses up tons of calories, so you have to eat a lot more. Like 10 times more. So that in itself then becomes an evolutionary pressure. One solution to this was to become a lot smarter, literally grow the brain, but also structure that growth to have flexibility to enable learning, so you can adapt to the environment you're born into. This means brains which are able to an extent to physically wire up as a result of experience.

So you end up with off-spring who are potentially very smart and adaptable, but their 'brain wiring' is basic at birth, so they're pretty helpless.

Evolution responds by adapting our hormonal 'reward system' and other systems to extend from being tuned to our self-care, to being tuned to care for off-spring. And oxytocin seems to be a key early part of this. So for example if a mother rat loses track of a baby, her stress hormones will rise and she'll go look for it, when she finds it her stress hormones fall and the oxytocin levels rise making her 'feel good'.

Of course the whole story is hugely complicated, but now we're beginning to understand the beginnings of how we became the way we are. Pretty awesome stuff in my opinion! And I think Churchland does an excellent job of pulling together the research from various fields to give us an accessible and fascinating idea of how the big picture fits together.

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Hermes_Trismegistus
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Hermes_Trismegistus » August 17th, 2017, 6:12 am

Computers, no matter how sophisticated, will only be capable of an appearance of consciousness. There is no reason to think consciousness will ever arise from non-biological entities.

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UniversalAlien
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by UniversalAlien » August 17th, 2017, 6:29 pm

Hermes_Trismegistus wrote:Computers, no matter how sophisticated, will only be capable of an appearance of consciousness. There is no reason to think consciousness will ever arise from non-biological entities.
Really? OK - Now prove to me that you are conscious - For all I know a computer just printed what you supposedly wrote.

I say current state of the art AI could respond just as well, maybe even better.

So for our enlightenment would you please prove just what it is that makes you so sure that you are conscious and the the machine that transmitted your supposedly conscious reply is not conscious.

Also, we are always willing to learn - So please give us a universal definition of consciousness and show us how this definition could not be met by a non-biological entity.

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by -1- » August 17th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Universal Allen, my point exactly. How can we tell if a computer is conscious, unconscious, or subconscious, when we are completely incapable to directly sense that in a member of our own species? If it weren't for a highly developed sense of empathy, we'd be co-existing like so many wind-up toys.

So... how do we know computers don't already at present have a conscious mind already? We can say or reason or figure things, but to KNOW we will never.
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by UniversalAlien » August 17th, 2017, 10:57 pm

-1- wrote:Universal Allen, my point exactly. How can we tell if a computer is conscious, unconscious, or subconscious, when we are completely incapable to directly sense that in a member of our own species? If it weren't for a highly developed sense of empathy, we'd be co-existing like so many wind-up toys.

So... how do we know computers don't already at present have a conscious mind already? We can say or reason or figure things, but to KNOW we will never.
And just where and when does this hypothitical thing we call consciousness begin and where and when does it end - Or does it begin and end at all?

Lately, and more and more, I'm coning to believe in the old philosophical concept of pan-psychism - Everything that exits is conscious - And believe it or not some very modern now scientists are also on board.

It then becomes a matter of discretion, something, and as far as we know, only the Human psyche possesses, to distinguish the degree of, the nature of, and the function and utility of this so called consciousness.


“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
― C.G. Jung

Belindi
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Belindi » August 18th, 2017, 7:25 am

And just where and when does this hypothitical thing we call consciousness begin and where and when does it end - Or does it begin and end at all?
Qualia

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Tamminen » August 18th, 2017, 8:08 am

UniversalAlien wrote:And just where and when does this hypothitical thing we call consciousness begin and where and when does it end - Or does it begin and end at all?
It begins when the subject begins, and the subject begins when there is the present, the basic unit of temporality. The being of the present means that there is something present for the subject and it is there at the present moment. Rocks and computers do not have their own present, all they have is our present. So what defines consciousness is temporality, and this is what material things do not have, not even our brains.

We are conscious, i.e. temporal, using our bodies. Our bodies are neither conscious nor temporal. They are located in physical time, but that is not what original temporality means.

Gertie
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Gertie » August 18th, 2017, 1:10 pm

UA
And just where and when does this hypothitical thing we call consciousness begin and where and when does it end - Or does it begin and end at all?
I'm assuming that by consciousness here you mean experiential states - 'what it's like' to experience seeing, hearing, remembering, hunger, etc. Such states aren't hypothetical, they're real - mine are anyway!

We need a settled Theory of Consciousness, which would provide answers to questions like 'What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness'. Then we could say Yes or No, this or that physical system is conscious in some way.

Unfortunately we don't have a settled theory. One of the problems in coming to a consensus on a settled Theory of Consciousness is that experiential states are inherently 'private', so we have to rely on Behaviour (does this entity act as if it's conscious), Similarity (is it similar to accepted conscious entities in ways associated with consciousness eg have a brain), and Self-Reporting (humans and potentially machines, who can say 'Yes, I am conscious'). And then draw inferences.

In the absence of a settled Theory of Consciousness , we have a bunch of untestable 'What If...' explanatory hypotheses. One such hypothesis, Panpsychism, suggests consciousness is a fundamental part of the fabric of the universe, present in everything which exists. In which case consciousness is everywhere, we just don't recognise it. Where-as some people hypothesize that consciousness is a novel Emergent property resulting from certain types of material processes. In which case there would presumably be a cut off between a non-conscious process and the most basic conscious process, perhaps that of an insect which experiences 'what it's like' to experience the difference between light and dark.

But we don't know which, if either, of these hypotheses are on the right track. So we can't answer your question, for now anyway.

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Woodart » August 18th, 2017, 1:35 pm

Gertie wrote:UA
And just where and when does this hypothitical thing we call consciousness begin and where and when does it end - Or does it begin and end at all?
I'm assuming that by consciousness here you mean experiential states - 'what it's like' to experience seeing, hearing, remembering, hunger, etc. Such states aren't hypothetical, they're real - mine are anyway!

We need a settled Theory of Consciousness, which would provide answers to questions like 'What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness'. Then we could say Yes or No, this or that physical system is conscious in some way.

Unfortunately we don't have a settled theory. One of the problems in coming to a consensus on a settled Theory of Consciousness is that experiential states are inherently 'private', so we have to rely on Behaviour (does this entity act as if it's conscious), Similarity (is it similar to accepted conscious entities in ways associated with consciousness eg have a brain), and Self-Reporting (humans and potentially machines, who can say 'Yes, I am conscious'). And then draw inferences.

In the absence of a settled Theory of Consciousness , we have a bunch of untestable 'What If...' explanatory hypotheses. One such hypothesis, Panpsychism, suggests consciousness is a fundamental part of the fabric of the universe, present in everything which exists. In which case consciousness is everywhere, we just don't recognise it. Where-as some people hypothesize that consciousness is a novel Emergent property resulting from certain types of material processes. In which case there would presumably be a cut off between a non-conscious process and the most basic conscious process, perhaps that of an insect which experiences 'what it's like' to experience the difference between light and dark.

But we don't know which, if either, of these hypotheses are on the right track. So we can't answer your question, for now anyway.
I think your thoughts are very cogent, however I think we do answer the question of consciousness - every moment. We have to because we have to be practical and proceed with life. We assume the veracity of consciousness in order to move down the road. I always liked Lily Tomlim saying - "reality is a collective hunch".

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by -1- » August 18th, 2017, 2:46 pm

Uniting Woodart's and Belindi's general views, and mine, there is consciousness for sure, as experienced by our own selves; and there are theories and considerations that are different from each other, but each having the same strength of philosophical validity, and which theories and considerations paint a picture of the precise situation of the conscious; but there is no extant knowledge about the situation of conscious in effect, and it seems to be at the moment impossible to get any more knowledge on the conscious than inferential; and furthermore, the inferential can be even ignored and not taken into consideration for a theory on the conscious, and still remain philosophically just as valid as all other theories on consciousness. For instance, the pan-conscious universe theory, or the theory that inanimate objects can have consciousness. These can't be discounted or rendered invalid, other than by purely subjective opinion.
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Belindi » August 19th, 2017, 5:54 am

If or when brain scientists can correlate subjective reports of specific qualia with specific brain activities we will understand conscious awareness.

-- Updated August 19th, 2017, 5:55 am to add the following --

If or when brain scientists can correlate subjective reports of specific qualia with specific brain activities we will understand conscious awareness.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/quale

Tamminen
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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Tamminen » August 20th, 2017, 4:37 am

Belindi wrote:If or when brain scientists can correlate subjective reports of specific qualia with specific brain activities we will understand conscious awareness.
To understand ontology of consciousness and ontology of matter we need phenomenology. To understand facts of consciousness we need psychology. To understand facts of the material world we need physics. To understand the relations between facts of consciousness and facts of the material world we need brain research.

So there are many levels of understanding. But we should not presuppose the materialistic ontology as a premise and try to explain consciousness from that premise. It has not succeeded so far and, as far as I can see, will not succeed in the future, because the ontology behind those efforts is not satisfactory. We must clarify our ontological standpoint first by phenomenological studies.

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Belindi » August 20th, 2017, 5:50 am

Tamminen wrote:
Belindi wrote:If or when brain scientists can correlate subjective reports of specific qualia with specific brain activities we will understand conscious awareness.
To understand ontology of consciousness and ontology of matter we need phenomenology. To understand facts of consciousness we need psychology. To understand facts of the material world we need physics. To understand the relations between facts of consciousness and facts of the material world we need brain research.

So there are many levels of understanding. But we should not presuppose the materialistic ontology as a premise and try to explain consciousness from that premise. It has not succeeded so far and, as far as I can see, will not succeed in the future, because the ontology behind those efforts is not satisfactory. We must clarify our ontological standpoint first by phenomenological studies.

"subjective reports of specific qualia" are what the psychologist would report as psychologists deal in subjective reports. "specific brain activities" are what the neuroscientist would report as neuroscientists deal in objective reports. The two reports can be correlated. As a matter of fact subjective reports and objective reports are frequently correlated, for instance in clinical situations for the purpose of diagnosis.

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Present awareness » August 24th, 2017, 7:56 pm

philoreaderguy wrote:Do you think a man-made computer could ever become conscious? Can it have a soul? Why or why not?
By "conscious" do you mean self aware? By "Soul" do you mean some sort of energy field, separate from the mechanical parts?

Computers, like most man made machines, will give predictable results. To ask if a computer has consciousness is like asking if my kitchen light knows it's on, when I flick a switch.

What we call human consciousness, seems to be a form of self awareness, in which we construct a sense of self based upon memories of past experiences. This illusory self is like a bubble, which is easily popped by the simple act of dying.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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Re: Can a man-made computer become conscious?

Post by Togo1 » August 28th, 2017, 12:59 pm

Belindi wrote:"subjective reports of specific qualia" are what the psychologist would report as psychologists deal in subjective reports. "specific brain activities" are what the neuroscientist would report as neuroscientists deal in objective reports. The two reports can be correlated. As a matter of fact subjective reports and objective reports are frequently correlated, for instance in clinical situations for the purpose of diagnosis.
It goes even further than that...

Subjects can be asked to produce specific brain activities by asking them to imagine specific actions. This can be used to communicate with some patients who can't move or speak or act in any way (persistent vegitative state). Similarly consistent sensations can be produced by stimulating the brain of a conscious patient in particular areas.

I think to understand consciousness we need to consider:
Conscious experience
Conscious thought
Intentionality

They're related, but not the same thing.

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