There is a common misconception that artificial intelligence (AI) can be programmed to be conscious. This is simply not true. Consciousness is a complex phenomenon that cannot be created through code.
Some people may argue that we don’t fully understand consciousness, and there might be some way to create it artificially. However, this is a moot point. Even if we don’t fully understand consciousness, we know enough about it to be certain that we cannot create it through code.
In order to understand why “programmed AI consciousness” is not “consciousness”, it is first important to understand what consciousness is. The general definition of the consciousness is “the ability to be aware of and think, feel and perceive”. This definition, however, is quite vague and does not really give us a clear understanding of what exactly the consciousness is. There are various theories of consciousness, but we are yet not ready to say a particular theory is the correct one.
One theory of consciousness is the Mind-brain identity theory. This is a philosophy that purports the mind and brain are the same and the consciousness is simply a product of the brain. This theory suggests that consciousness arises from the activity of the brain. And that it is not something that exists independently of the brain.
This theory is supported by the fact that when the brain is damaged, consciousness is also often damaged. Our brain is made up of an average of 86 billion neurons, each with up to 15,000 connections with other neurons via synapses. This intricate network of neurons leads us to be aware of our consciousness.
Another theory of consciousness is that it is something that exists independently of the brain and that the brain is simply a receiver of consciousness. Dr. Peter Fenwick, a well-known neuropsychiatrist who has spent more than 50 years studying the near-death experience (NDE) phenomenon and the human brain, argues that, in reality, consciousness is a fundamental quality of the universe itself, very much like dark matter, dark energy, or gravity. It exists independently of the brain and outside of it. Fenwick reached the conclusion after his extensive research that consciousness persists even after death.
The fact that some people with brain damage have still been able to be conscious supports the theory.
One way or the other, it is impossible to replicate this level of complexity with code. Even the most powerful computers are nowhere near as complex as the human brain. This is why AI will never be able to achieve true consciousness.
Many people believe that artificial intelligence (AI) could one day achieve consciousness. That is a level of intelligence that rivals or even surpass that of humans. After all, if we can program a computer to beat a grandmaster at chess, why can’t we program it to become self-aware?
However, there are a number of reasons why this is not possible. For one thing, consciousness is intimately bound up with the physical world. It requires a physical body and a brain to process information and create thoughts and perceptions. A computer, no matter how sophisticated, cannot replicate this.
Secondly, consciousness is not simply a matter of information processing. The capacity to be self-aware, to have emotions, and to make decisions requires something more than mere intelligence. It requires what some philosophers call “qualia” – the subjective experiences that make up our inner lives. A computer might be able to simulate these experiences, but it could never have them itself.
Finally, even if we could create a self-aware AI, there is no guarantee that it would be friendly to humans. In fact, it is more likely that it would see us as a hindrance to its own plans and goals, as the philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued.
Many people believe that consciousness is necessary for intelligent behavior. However, we don’t really know if this is true. There are many examples of machines that exhibit intelligent behavior without any signs of consciousness. This suggests that consciousness might not be necessary for intelligence.
AI is already displaying intelligent behavior without consciousness.
There are many examples of AI displaying intelligent behavior without any sign of consciousness. For instance, Google’s AlphaGo program beat a world champion Go player, even though it was not conscious. Go is incredibly complex despite its seemingly simple rules. More than the number of atoms in the known universe, there are an astounding 10 to the power of 170 possible board configurations. As a result, Go is googol times more sophisticated than chess.
If AI can be intelligent without consciousness, then it raises the possibility that AI could become extremely intelligent without ever becoming conscious. If a higher level of existence created us, maybe, we are not conscious either in reality.
Machines can now learn from data and experience, just like humans. They can identify patterns and make predictions, without any conscious effort. And our effort to keep improving them is not slowing down too. Estimated at $15.50 billion in 2021, a report from Fortune Business Insights has forecast that the global machine learning market will reach a staggering $152.24 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 38.6%.
An additional example is natural language processing. Machines can now understand human language and respond in a way that is indistinguishable from human conversation. If the machines get the ability to “think” in languages, they could get the ability of reasoning, and eventually, turn out to be more powerful than us. But still, we would consider it to be a simulation of consciousness. “They are not conscious. They are simply programmed to be conscious”. And if we could do that, there is no reason to believe that we are at the very top of it.