Can a machine ever become self

So far, the universe is winning. Computers are improving at an amazing rate, operating at ever faster processing speeds and with larger memories.

Can Computers Become Conscious and Overcome Humans?

The software is becoming more and more complex and able to handle a vast array of tasks. But all said and done it's still just a machine performing a task that it has been designed to do, it doesn't actually come up with any new ideas of its own or do any thinking. As every computer owner will tell you, they will blindly follow any instruction you give them, no matter how stupid that instruction. If, for example, you spend all day compiling a report and then press 'Quit' before saving, it will obediently quit and remove your report forever.

can a machine ever become self

Okay, I know it will ask you if you're sure you want to quit first, but at the end of a long day it's too easy to hit the wrong key and then wave good-bye to your report. If the computer had any 'sense' it would 'know' not to be so daft, what would be the point of spending all day on it only to dump it? Even if you were sure that it was after all a pile of rubbish, the computer could perhaps save it for a week or so anyway, just in case you changed your mind.

But computers don't think, they simply follow instructions. I suppose at some point the programmers will write programmes that will take care of things a bit better, and allow for the fact that us dumb humans do, only very occasionally of course, make tiny mistakes. So the programmes get better and computers start to act is if they are smart, but in reality they are still merely following pre-programmed instructions. But is it possible that one day the programmes will become so complex that to all intents and purposes it will appear that computers are actually 'thinking'.

Could this process of 'thinking' develop to the point where a computer becomes self-aware? What would make computers capable of thinking? I suppose it depends on how you define 'thinking'.

When discussing computers three terms come to mind that need to be carefully considered. They are ' thinking ''intelligent', and 'self-aware'. Let's first consider what we mean by 'thinking'. In human terms we know what it means, but find it hard to describe.

For example, I am thinking about what I will type next that will be logical, in context and informative. In other words I am selecting from a multitude of options the one that will best suit my purpose. I am making a selection. But more than just making a selection, I am also planning ahead, I have a goal in mind, an end product, which is this completed page.

I am also thinking that I could do with a break but rejecting the idea until I have finished this paragraph. So how can we define the act of 'thinking'? We could say its making decisions, selecting from a choice of options, examining consequences, determining what is true and what is false, deciding on a course of action, problem solving, etc. Having given the act of thinking a crude working definition can we say that computers think?

The answer is of course no. Computers, no matter how complex, do not plan ahead and make decisions. They may be programmed to select the best option from an array of possibilities, but are unable to consider any options other than those that are programmed in.

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For instance, computers are now good enough at playing chess to beat a Grandmaster, as IBM's Deep Blue did in in beating Gary Kasparov - the then reigning World Chess Champion - in a six game match by 3. But is this planing ahead? The computer simply runs through a large number of possible moves and selects the best option for winning the game, as determined by the programme that was devised by expert chess players. A human chess player on the other hand is unable in the time available to compute the same number of possible moves, but the human doesn't have to do this.

A human player knows, from past experience and common sense, that many of the possible moves would be pointless to pursue and does not need to work out the implications of each of those moves, but a computer cannot do this.The advancements we've made in computer science and robotics, two young disciplines, are impressive. Moore's Law is a good example of how quickly things can change. Gordon Moore observed in that the number of transistors that could fit on a silicon chip an inch 2.

What It Will Take for Computers to Be Conscious

That's a logarithmic growth pattern. While computer scientists would adjust the observation by lengthening the amount of time it takes before we can cram more transistors onto a chip, we've still shrunk transistors down to the nanoscale. In robotics, engineers have created machines with multiple points of articulation. Some robots have an array of sensors that can gather information about the environment, allowing the robot to maneuver through a simple obstacle course.

From manufacturing to military applications, robots are making a big impact. Though computers and robots are more advanced than ever, they're still just tools. They can be useful, particularly for tasks that would either be dangerous to humans or would take too long to complete without computer assistance.

But robots and computers are unaware of their own existence and can only perform tasks for which they were programmed. But what if they could think for themselves? It's a common theme in science fiction. Machines become self-aware, changing the dynamic between man and machine. Could it really happen? Whether or not computers or robots can gain consciousness isn't as easy a question as you might think. There is still much we don't know about human consciousness. While programmers and computer scientists create algorithms that can simulate thinking on a superficial level, cracking the code necessary to give consciousness to a machine remains beyond our grasp.

Part of the problem lies with defining consciousness. Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, suggests that the concept is best explained through examples of what consciousness is and what it isn't. Schwitzgebel says that vivid sensations are part of consciousness.

You could argue that through sensors, robots and computers can experience -- or at least detect -- stimuli that we would interpret as sensations.

But Schwitzgebel also points out other instances of consciousness: inner speech, visual imagery, emotions and dreams are all elements we can experience that machines can't.The technological singularity —also, simply, the singularity [1] —is a hypothetical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.

The first use of the concept of a "singularity" in the technological context was John von Neumann. Good 's "intelligence explosion" model predicts that a future superintelligence will trigger a singularity.

The concept and the term "singularity" were popularized by Vernor Vinge in his essay The Coming Technological Singularityin which he wrote that it would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate. He wrote that he would be surprised if it occurred before or after Public figures such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have expressed concern that full artificial intelligence AI could result in human extinction.

Although technological progress has been accelerating, it has been limited by the basic intelligence of the human brain, which has not, according to Paul R.

Ehrlichchanged significantly for millennia. If a superhuman intelligence were to be invented—either through the amplification of human intelligence or through artificial intelligence—it would bring to bear greater problem-solving and inventive skills than current humans are capable of. Such an AI is referred to as Seed AI [14] [15] because if an AI were created with engineering capabilities that matched or surpassed those of its human creators, it would have the potential to autonomously improve its own software and hardware or design an even more capable machine.

This more capable machine could then go on to design a machine of yet greater capability. These iterations of recursive self-improvement could accelerate, potentially allowing enormous qualitative change before any upper limits imposed by the laws of physics or theoretical computation set in.

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It is speculated that over many iterations, such an AI would far surpass human cognitive abilities. Intelligence explosion is a possible outcome of humanity building artificial general intelligence AGI. AGI would be capable of recursive self-improvement, leading to the rapid emergence of artificial superintelligence ASIthe limits of which are unknown, shortly after technological singularity is achieved.

Good speculated in that artificial general intelligence might bring about an intelligence explosion. He speculated on the effects of superhuman machines, should they ever be invented: [16]. Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.

Good's scenario runs as follows: as computers increase in power, it becomes possible for people to build a machine that is more intelligent than humanity; this superhuman intelligence possesses greater problem-solving and inventive skills than current humans are capable of. This superintelligent machine then designs an even more capable machine, or re-writes its own software to become even more intelligent; this even more capable machine then goes on to design a machine of yet greater capability, and so on.

These iterations of recursive self-improvement accelerate, allowing enormous qualitative change before any upper limits imposed by the laws of physics or theoretical computation set in. A superintelligence, hyperintelligence, or superhuman intelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds.

can a machine ever become self

John von NeumannVernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil define the concept in terms of the technological creation of super intelligence. They argue that it is difficult or impossible for present-day humans to predict what human beings' lives would be like in a post-singularity world.

Technology forecasters and researchers disagree about if or when human intelligence is likely to be surpassed. Some argue that advances in artificial intelligence AI will probably result in general reasoning systems that lack human cognitive limitations.

Others believe that humans will evolve or directly modify their biology so as to achieve radically greater intelligence. A number of futures studies scenarios combine elements from both of these possibilities, suggesting that humans are likely to interface with computersor upload their minds to computersin a way that enables substantial intelligence amplification.

Some writers use "the singularity" in a broader way to refer to any radical changes in our society brought about by new technologies such as molecular nanotechnology[18] [19] [20] although Vinge and other writers specifically state that without superintelligence, such changes would not qualify as a true singularity. A speed superintelligence describes an AI that can do everything that a human can do, where the only difference is that the machine runs faster.

Many prominent technologists and academics dispute the plausibility of a technological singularity, including Paul AllenJeff HawkinsJohn HollandJaron Lanierand Gordon Moorewhose law is often cited in support of the concept. Most proposed methods for creating superhuman or transhuman minds fall into one of two categories: intelligence amplification of human brains and artificial intelligence. The speculated ways to produce intelligence augmentation are many, and include bioengineeringgenetic engineeringnootropic drugs, AI assistants, direct brain—computer interfaces and mind uploading.

Because multiple paths to an intelligence explosion are being explored, it makes a singularity more likely; for a singularity to not occur they would all have to fail.

Robin Hanson expressed skepticism of human intelligence augmentation, writing that once the "low-hanging fruit" of easy methods for increasing human intelligence have been exhausted, further improvements will become increasingly difficult to find.

Whether or not an intelligence explosion occurs depends on three factors. Contrariwise, as the intelligences become more advanced, further advances will become more and more complicated, possibly overcoming the advantage of increased intelligence. Each improvement should beget at least one more improvement, on average, for movement towards singularity to continue.Consciousness in Humanoid Robots View all 14 Articles.

The idea of machines overcoming humans can be intrinsically related to conscious machines. Surpassing humans would mean replicating, reaching and exceeding key distinctive properties of human beings, for example, high-level cognition associated with conscious perception. However, can computers be compared with humans?

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Can computers become conscious? Can computers outstrip human capabilities? These are paradoxical and controversial questions, particularly because there are many hidden assumptions and misconceptions about the understanding of the brain.

In this sense, it is necessary to first explore these assumptions and then suggest how the specific information processing of brains would be replicated by machines.

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Therefore, this article will discuss a subset of human capabilities and the connection with conscious behavior, secondly, a prototype theory of consciousness will be explored and machines will be classified according to this framework. Finally, this analysis will show the paradoxical conclusion that trying to achieve conscious machines to beat humans implies that computers will never completely exceed human capabilities, or if the computer were to do it, the machine should not be considered a computer anymore.

During many centuries, scientists and philosophers have been debating about the nature of the brain and its relation with the mind, based on the premise of an intrinsic dualism, typically called mind-body problem Searle, ; Chalmers, Arguments take one form or another, however, most of them can be reduced to one kind of dualist or non-dualist view Lycan and Dennett, The importance of these debates acquires even more relevance when the question is stated as the possibility to build machines which would be able to reproduce some human capabilities such as emotion, subjective experiences, or even consciousness.

In the view of the author, these claims are based on misconceptions and reductionism of current most important issues. The idea, however, is not discarded here and is expressed, trying to avoid reductionism, in a different way to show its paradoxical consequences Signorelli, For example, the idea of reaching and overtaking human capabilities implies the knowledge of a set of distinctive processes and characteristics which define being a human e.

This simple idea leads to some fundamental issues. First, claims about new futurist robots do not define this set of distinctions; they do not care about the importance of what it is to be a human, what is necessary to build conscious machines or its implications. Secondly, they assume a materialist view of these distinctions i. Thirdly, they do not explain how subjective experience or emotions could emerge from the theory of computation that they assume as a framework to build machines, which will reach consciousness and overcome humans.

In other words, these views do not explain foundations of computation that support or reject the idea of high-level cognitive computers. Finally, engineering challenges of building these kinds of machines are not trivial, and futurists assume reverse engineering as the best tool to deal with this when even some neuroscience techniques do not seem to give us any information about simple computing devices such as microprocessors Jonas and Kording, Aurich, W.

Jacobsen and G. Jatho, Goethe Institute, Los Angeles, pp. All stealth bombers are upgraded with neural processors, becoming fully unmanned. One of them, Skynet, begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at a. Since the early Fifties, science fiction movies have depicted robots as very sophisticated machines built by humans to perform complex operations, to work with humans in safe critical missions in hostile environments, or, more often, to pilot and control spaceships in galactic travels.

At the same time, however, intelligent robots have also been depicted as dangerous machines, capable of working against man through wicked plans. In very few movies, robots are depicted as reliable assistants, which really cooperate with men rather than conspiring against them. Also in Aliens second episode of the lucky series, directed by James Cameron inBishop is a synthetic android whose purpose is to pilot the spaceship during the mission and protect the crew.

With respect to HAL and his predecessor encountered in the first Alien episodeBishop is not affected by malfunctioning, and he remains faithful to his duty till the end of the movie. Remember one of the final scenes in which Bishop, with his body divided in two pieces after fighting with the alien creature, still works for saving Ellen Ripley Sigourney Weaveroffering his hand to avoid her to be sucked away from the ship.

Finally, a positive sign of optimism in science and technology from James Cameron. The dual connotation often attributed to science fiction robots represents the clear expression of desire and fear that man has towards his own technology.

From one hand, in fact, man projects in a robot his irrepressible desire of immortality, embodied in a powerful and indestructible artificial being, whose intellective, sensory, and motor capabilities are much more augmented with respect to the ones of a normal man. On the other hand, however, there is a fear that a too advanced technology almost mysterious for most of people can get out of control, acting agaist man see Frankenstein, HALTerminator, and the robots in Matrix.

Recent progress of computer science technology strongly influenced the features of new science fiction robots. For example, the theories on connectionism and artificial neural networks aimed at replicating some processing mechanism typical of the human brain inspired the Terminator robot, who is not only intelligent, but can learn based on his past experience.

In the movie, Terminator represents the prototype of immaginary robots. He can walk, talk, perceive and behave like a human being.

can a machine ever become self

His power cell can supply energy for years, and an alternate power circuit provides fault tolerance in case of damage. But, what is more important, Terminator can learn! He is controlled by a neural-net processor, a computer that can modify its behavior based on past experience.

What makes the movie more intriguing, from a philosophical point of view, is that such a neural processor is so complex that it begins to learn at an exponential rate and, after a while, it becomes self-aware!

In this sense, the movie raises an important question about artificial consciousness:. Before answering this question, we should perhaps ask: "how can we verify that an intelligent being is self-conscious? Inthe computer science pioneer Alan Turing posed a similar problem but concerning intelligence and, in order to establish whether a machine can or cannot be considered intelligent as a human, he proposed a famous test, known as the Turing test: there are two keyboards, one connected to a computer, the other leads to a person.

An examiner types in questions on any topic he likes; both the computer and the human type back responses that the examiner reads on the respective computer screens. If he cannot reliably determine which was the person and which the machine, then we say the machine has passed the Turing test.

Today, no computer can pass the Turing test, unless we restrict the interaction on very specific topics, as chess. On May 11, p. As all actual computers, however, Deep Blue does not understand chess, since it just applies some rules to find a move that leads to a better position, according to an evaluation criterion programmed by chess experts.

can a machine ever become self

The problem of verifying whether an intelligent being is self-conscious is even more complex. In fact, if intelligence can be the expression of an external behavior that can be measured by specific tests, self-consciousness is the expression of an internal brain state that cannot be measured.Artificial consciousness [1] ACalso known as machine consciousness MC or synthetic consciousness Gamez ; Reggiais a field related to artificial intelligence and cognitive robotics.

The aim of the theory of artificial consciousness is to "Define that which would have to be synthesized were consciousness to be found in an engineered artifact" Aleksander Neuroscience hypothesizes that consciousness is generated by the interoperation of various parts of the braincalled the neural correlates of consciousness or NCC, though there are challenges to that perspective.

Proponents of AC believe it is possible to construct systems e. Artificial consciousness concepts are also pondered in the philosophy of artificial intelligence through questions about mind, consciousness, and mental states.

As there are many hypothesized types of consciousnessthere are many potential implementations of artificial consciousness. In the philosophical literature, perhaps the most common taxonomy of consciousness is into "access" and "phenomenal" variants.

Type-identity theorists and other skeptics hold the view that consciousness can only be realized in particular physical systems because consciousness has properties that necessarily depend on physical constitution Block ; Bickle In his article "Artificial Consciousness: Utopia or Real Possibility," Giorgio Buttazzo says that a common objection to artificial consciousness is that "Working in a fully automated mode, they [the computers] cannot exhibit creativity, emotions, or free will.

A computer, like a washing machine, is a slave operated by its components. For other theorists e. One of the most explicit arguments for the plausibility of AC comes from David Chalmers.

His proposal, found within his article Chalmersis roughly that the right kinds of computations are sufficient for the possession of a conscious mind. In the outline, he defends his claim thus: Computers perform computations.

Computations can capture other systems' abstract causal organization. The most controversial part of Chalmers' proposal is that mental properties are "organizationally invariant".

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Mental properties are of two kinds, psychological and phenomenological. Psychological properties, such as belief and perception, are those that are "characterized by their causal role". He adverts to the work of Armstrong and Lewis in claiming that "[s]ystems with the same causal topology…will share their psychological properties".

Phenomenological properties are not prima facie definable in terms of their causal roles. Establishing that phenomenological properties are amenable to individuation by causal role, therefore, requires argument. Chalmers provides his Dancing Qualia Argument for this purpose. Chalmers begins by assuming that agents with identical causal organizations could have different experiences. He then asks us to conceive of changing one agent into the other by the replacement of parts neural parts replaced by silicon, say while preserving its causal organization.To Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, the answer to these questions may lie in the fabric of the universe itself.

Consciousness, he believes, is an intrinsic property of matter, just like mass or energy. Koch, now 57, has spent nearly a quarter of a century trying to explain why, say, the sun feels warm on your face.

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But after writing three books on consciousnessKoch says researchers are still far from knowing why it occurs, or even agreeing on what it is. That would give neuroscience a firehose of data similar to what the Human Genome Project achieved. To Koch, the theory provides a means to assess degrees of consciousness in people with brain damage, in species across the animal kingdom, and even, he says, among machines. Will discovering the biological basis of consciousness be dehumanizing in some way?

I find this view of some people that consciousness is an illusion to be ridiculous.

Could computers and robots become conscious? If so, what happens then?

I mean, the most famous deduction in Western philosophy is what? Therefore I am. If scientists discover the basis of consciousness, what kinds of technologies could result from that? We have very emotional debates in this country about abortion. I would like to have some objective way to test at what point a fetus actually begins to have conscious sensation. Or whether a patient [in a coma] is conscious or not.

These are questions that people have asked since historic times, but once we have a theory, and a widely accepted theory, we could answer them. Also, if I wanted to build a machine that would be conscious, it would give me a blueprint.

They have a particular way of interacting with the world, such as the brain does, or in principle, such as a computer could. If you were to build a computer that has the same circuitry as the brain, this computer would also have consciousness associated with it.

It would feel like something to be this computer. However, the same is not true for digital simulations. If I build a perfect software model of the brain, it would never be conscious, but a specially designed machine that mimics the brain could be? This theory clearly says that a digital simulation would not be conscious, which is strikingly different from the dominant functionalist belief of 99 percent of people at MIT or philosophers like Daniel Dennett.

I think consciousness, like mass, is a fundamental property of the universe. You can predict the inside of a storm.


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