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View Diary: Computerized Brain To Be Completed by 2020 (180 comments)

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  •  I've been talking about Kurzweil's new book (23+ / 0-)

    on other forums this past week.

    My take:  I'm not convinced that reverse-engineering the human brain will get you to artificial consciousness.  It might tell us a lot about how humans work, but not about how to make a brain.  

    An analogy would be if you tried to understand Windows 8 by CT-scanning a Pentium chip.  You could get a better understanding of the Pentium chip architecture but you'd learn nothing about Windows 8 because it's not hardware.

    I'm eager to see them develop AI consciousness in the next twenty years, if they can.  I don't think it's going to come from this method, though.  It will probably take a different kind of top-down modeling approach.

    •  Great analogy. n/t (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, Wee Mama, rb608, linkage
      •  I agree with you completely, and had made a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        similar comment above.

        'Thinking' is not consciousness. Just as those chess playing robots are engaging in a very, very different process than the humans with which they compete. They may suceed at their limited task. However, they cannot go beyond their programming.

        To add the ability to 'learn' is a great concept. Still isn't consciousness.  MHO as a civilian.

        Life is a school, love is the lesson.

        by means are the ends on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 08:35:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This sentence in the diary (14+ / 0-)

      requires a lot more than a mere supposition, IMO:

      When the projects are completed then humanity will have created intelligent life
      Far, far from clear to me how life, let alone consciousness, is created here.
    •  Can you provide a link (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Dumbo

      to some of these other forums?

      The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

      by Pirogue on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:32:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's the $10^(very large number) question (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rb608, dkosdan, linkage, Dumbo

      And it's been going on since connectionist AI was all the rage in the 1980's.  It's still an open question.  Regardless of the answer, what's being done now is still important.  Ultimately we'll have to understand both the hardware and the software.

      I tend to think that we've still got a very long way to go before we create anything that might be labeled as "intelligent' in the human sense.  Right now we don't even know what words like intelligence and consciousness really mean (and whether or not they actually exist).  

      •  consciousness is a technology term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xgy2

        at this point.  I'm separating the philosophy of mind aspects from the tech aspects, because over at onlinephilosophyclub, they keep getting into arguments over the two definitions.  There is an obvious goal in AI to achieve some kind of self-motivated equivalent to a human-mind that can handle things with less supervision and grapple with more complex problems.  Going upwards from that to Hal 9000 is a tech evolutionary problem.

        Could we ever achieve an AI consciousness that is enough like a human consciousness to pass the turing test and hold interesting conversations with us that don't get stuck the way SERE does?  Yeah, I think we will be able to.  That's a different tech goal.  We can argue whether such an AI is REALLY conscious and whether an emulation is ever the same thing as the thing it emulates, but that gets into religion and metaphysics at that point.

        •  If it's a technology term (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo, The Hindsight Times

          what's the definition of it?

          How does that differ from the actual definition?

          If it's different then should we give it a different name?

          The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 02:37:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It would simplify matters, wouldn't it? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            And get us away from arguments about the nature of the soul, etc.  There's a perfectionist element to many of the discussions about consciousness, but that is ignorable if you just focus on it as a technological issue.  Then you can grade achievements as "more like a consciousness, rather than less."

            •  Again, what is the definition (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dumbo, The Hindsight Times

              because without any sort of definition, which is what the "technological" definition seems to be, there's really no more or less conscious.  We have to be able to show what we're getting closer or further from if we want to know if we're getting closer or further.

              As someone who has a background studying this sort of this, consciousness, personhood, etc. I find it frustrating when people hand-wave away the issue.

              The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:03:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's why I distinguish the technology problem (0+ / 0-)

                from the philosophical problem.

                When you look at the color blue, and you experience blue, is there something special going on there that a computer programmed to scan blue objects will never share?  And when you evaluate all your thoughts and ideas, are your reactions in some ways similar to how you experience blue?

                When you reach that level of thinking, then we start to get into whether there's some kind of essence to consciousness.  I would argue, however, that whatever that essence is, though it might be very human, might not be essential to being FUNCTIONALLY conscious.  For instance, bees can see colors -- more colors than you and me, in fact.  Yet are they conscious?  If colors are something dumb creatures can do, I don't see that magic perception of color to be essential to consciousness.

                Also, we could program a computer to have some kind of reaction to the color blue that stimulates other thoughts, if we wanted to make it more like us, more likely to go Oooooh and Ahhhh...  The color blue might be programmed to stimulate associations with things that are calming or safe or pleasing, for instance.  

                •  That would be creating computers (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dumbo, Garrett, The Hindsight Times

                  that can behave in certain ways.  That's what things like the Turing test are for, and it's entirely possible that we can and will create a computer that can mimic a computer.  But that has nothing to do with consciousness.

                  Consciousness is a subjective experience, by definition.  What you're talking about is behavior.  When you talk about behavior it is completely different than the experience of consciousness.

                  I'd add that what we're really talking about in regards to consciousness is self-consciousness.  Bees are conscious to some extent but they pretty clearly aren't self-conscious.

                  The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:38:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's why I distinguish the problems. (0+ / 0-)

                    We could achieve an AI consciousness that satisfies all our behavioral desires and still argue about whether it's a "real" consciousness because of invisible matters of essence.  Whether it meets the definition we set or not, from a technological point of view, its' better to make an AI consciousness that just BEHAVES like one rather than one that has essence but... perhaps, doesn't want to talk with us, or is just sullen and unhelpful and alien.

                    But let's think about this, whether behavior of consciousness is the same thing as consciousness.  Lots of debate on that.  

                    Here's my take:

                    We don't exist as brains or as computers.  We are abstract structures, like the characters in Dickens' David Copperfield.  The book might be printed on paper with ink, but the paper and ink are irrelevant, and David Copperfield is the same whether it's on audiobook or a PDF or just something I remember reading.  Create the abstract structures similar to a consciousness and the defined abstract behaviors that are necessary to the way we change and act as if aware, and you may have created a consciousness.

                    •  An AI that satisfies our behavioral (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dumbo, The Hindsight Times

                      desires is completely beside the point of consciousness, and especially self consciousness.  Objective behavior is completely separate from subjective self-consciousness.  Maybe we're just talking past each other here.  I think it's entirely possible that we'll have computers that will mimic the actions of entities that we consider self-conscious, but the question of consciousness is entirely separate.  In fact, we have done almost no study on the question beyond the realm of philosophy, which is fine for what it is.  How can we create something we can't even define?

                      The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:35:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Bees are not self-conscious (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dumbo

                    And you know this how, exactly? As opposed to assuming that you know the level (if any) of their consciousness?  Bertrand Russell ascribed his interest in philosophy to a nanny who informed the little boy that eating fish was fine because fish feel no pain. Russell even at 5 years old asked himself "How does she know that?"

                    "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

                    by Reston history guy on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:24:04 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  While we can't say that certain (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dumbo

                      behaviors are indicative of self-consciousness, we can say that self-consciousness entails certain behaviors such as self recognition, which bees lack.  And if they aren't conscious then what are they, unconscious?  Subconscious?  There isn't a term to describe activity except for consciousness, although I admit that there may be some other state that we don't really have a name for, perhaps controlled or something similar.

                      In terms of fish feeling pain, I would say that's more complicated and it isn't clear whether or not they do, depending on what we consider pain.  They certainly act as if they feel pain, and they have the requisite nervous system, but beyond that it becomes a bit of a moot point.

                      The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:30:34 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Drone bees don't have any trouble (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Garrett, Dumbo

                        recognizing a queen.  Worker bees can recognize drones, because they kick them out in the Fall.  Bees can distinguish their own hive from another hive.  I think its a stretch to claim that bees aren't self aware.

                        The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

                        by MadScientist on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:36:24 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Awareness of others isn't self-awareness (0+ / 0-)

                          As should be obvious.  This isn't even an argument to be made.  Self-recognition == recognition of one's self.

                          I think its a stretch to claim that bees aren't self aware.
                          I don't believe that you think that, I think you're playing devil's advocate.

                          The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                          by AoT on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:13:34 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

        •  Still if it's technology (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Dumbo

          It's an engineering problem. That implies that one should be
          should be able to write a specification.  I'm not sure we're there yet.   If it's conscious, what does it do, what requires consciousness as a prerequisite etc.  No metaphysics there, just "The machine shall do X".   Note that a specification like "The machine shall pass a TBD Turing test on 9 out of 10 trials" might not require any mention of consciousness.  It might be better to simply drop the use of that word - at least until a definition is available.

          P.S.  I'm not really sure that consciousness even exists and if it does it might be nothing more than a reaction to mental events that have already happened.  

          •  Ultimately, the issue here is that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dumbo, xgy2, Reston history guy

            we can't prove that anyone has consciousness except ourselves.  We take it for granted that others share that consciousness because they say they do and we act in similar ways.

            P.S.  I'm not really sure that consciousness even exists and if it does it might be nothing more than a reaction to mental events that have already happened.
            If it's a reaction to mental events that have already happened then it still exists.  Consciousness clearly does exist, it's just a matter of describing the terms of that existence.  It might be that we're never able to come to a good description of that, but since I experience it I can guarantee it exists.

            The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:11:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  definitions... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xgy2
            P.S.  I'm not really sure that consciousness even exists and if it does it might be nothing more than a reaction to mental events that have already happened.
            That's closer to where I stand.  I think consciousness exists, but that our understanding of it is colored by vanity.  

            I'm a relativist, so on the one hand, I'm quite content to say that I and all my thoughts and ideas exist and are real, and then to say that you and your thought and also all thoughts that might be generated by a simulated consciousness are real too... but from a different point of view that I'm not privy to.  

            There doesn't seem to be an agreed -to universal definition of consciousness or artificial consciousness.  It seems to be used to mean "kinda like how a human thinks, sort of."  Anything more specific gets shot down in short order as not being adequate to describe our own consciousness in some specific way.

    •  The software emerges from the hardware (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      hardware plus experience. It's a different process from designed software. The software-hardware to mind-brain/body analogy is very useful, but it breaks down here.

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