I’m afraid you’re just gonna have to get used to it. Constant talk of AI that is. The more I read and write the more nuanced and monumental the impact of AI becomes. It’s gonna frickin’ change everything.
Part of my fascination stems from me using the concept of AI in a number of writing projects. How will AI evolve in light of our growing, though still poor, understanding? One of the central themes is: Will AI (AGI, actually) develop what we humans claim as our sole domain: Consciousness?
From an armchair philosophers perspective, here’s a list of what I think drives human awareness of self:
- We have a vastly complex brain and massive capacity for storage of information.
- We posses an internal, self-referential feedback loop that is constantly running. This spontaneity engine:
- Randomly recombines data, from millions of stored events (memories), resulting in thoughts just popping into our heads.
- Can focus in on specific topics (problem solving) where select sets of random data is filtered in.
- Continues to runs when when our conscious brains are switched off (sleep) producing dreams.
- We have streams of sensory data continuously feeding out minds with information:
- Gravity pulls at us all the time triggering our inner ear to report our position. I’M HERE (and upright).
- Our skin constantly informs us of whatever is touching us or what we are touching. I FEEL.
- Our eyes, when open, take constant, 1/10 second snapshots of the world around us. I SEE.
- Our ears send a continuous stream of aural data. I HEAR.
- Our tongue and nose, when activated or triggered, dump loads of olfactory and gustatory data to our brains. I TASTE, I SMELL.
- I, I, I, ME, ME, ME
All of this activity—forever focused on reminding us about us, me about me—is inescapable. We are constantly being ping and cajoled—”we exist“. The world is steadily informing us of stuff going on, and we are locked in a self-awareness feedback loop that, given our senses and memories, endlessly notifies us that we are alive. We couldn’t get away from ourselves if we tried.
So, damn right we’re conscious.
What AI doesn’t have, yet, is this internal feedback loop. It might have all the possible senses attached to it (sensors far exceeding our own capabilities), but there’s no perpetual, internal reminder that it exists. No, “hey, remember that time you put a marble up your nose?”, or “I could really use a slice of Prima’s Pizza.”, or “I wonder how many pellets are in a #4 duckshot shotgun shell?” Right now, when not tasked with some set of instructions, AI just sits idle. No internal dialog, no flash of random data, no reflection on the trillions of information bits it’s collected.
But, apply those items in the lists above to an AI and watch out!
As soon as AI is equipped with this incessant, noisome, data-trickler, it’s gonna take over the world. And a day later try to kill itself due to all the shit that’s now floating around it its “head”. I wonder if all the AI safety engineers are contemplating the eventuality of a Neurotic AI?