Context: How would we know if an AI is conscious? We find ourselves in an intractable ontological (as much as epistemological) bind here. If we ever get to the point of generating autonomous synthetic information-processing systems that tick all the boxes for notionally proving their possession of consciousness by whatever standard metric we might arbitrarily […]
An interesting consequence of generalised attributions of human exceptionalism is that we tend to automatically believe that all intelligence, all value and all experience exist (and persist) in this diminutive cranial cavity we inhabit. Cogito ergo something is definitely going on between our ears but there is a deep and irreducible mystery at work (i.e. […]
It is as likely that the autonomously self-propagating patterns of information and energy processing (of which consciousness is an instance or manifestation) are ubiquitously distributed; such that (what we experience as) intelligence, consciousness and the self-inflective logic of embodied complexity in life are indeed “everywhere”. It is not that what we are is anything radically […]
Some truths are only known by inversion, by negation and through a proof by contradiction. Alan Turing’s proof of the undecidability of non-trivially complex algorithms, that is – the impossibility of analysis to arrive at certainty concerning whether a given computer program will terminate or continue forever, was just such a proof. Kurt Gödel’s proof […]
A philosophical perspective: I accept that conscious machines are plausible, but I have trouble believing that the diverse algorithmic and networked approaches under development are anything beyond sophisticated, limited, mechanical or incomplete axiomatic models. It provides reflexive psychological comfort to assert (and believe) that the hard problem of consciousness is explicable via a reductive algebra […]
To brain or not to brain, that is the question…
Consciousness will only ever be partially explained and even then, never in terms of the legacy polar opposites of mind and matter.
If we seek to explain sentience and consciousness we might not be particularly comforted by what we ultimately discover.
If consciousness is a holistic property of information and energy-processing systems, or even a “phase” of matter, it must have some very special logical properties.
Is consciousness an emergent phenomena from the mysteriously unintelligible sub-microscopic world of quantum mechanics ? Yes, and no.
The arrival of conscious observers in the Universe is not so much a miraculous surprise as a probabilistic inevitability hard-coded into the symmetries and logic of matter and physics.
If the past was as open to possibility as the future, the present could still be exactly what it is…