Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism Neuroscience

Neuroscientist: We will never build a machine that mimics our personal consciousness

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From Michael S. Gazzaniga at Nautilus:

Perhaps the most surprising discovery for me is that I now think we humans will never build a machine that mimics our personal consciousness. Inanimate silicon-based machines work one way, and living carbon-based systems work another. One works with a deterministic set of instructions, and the other through symbols that inherently carry some degree of uncertainty.

In the end, we must realize that consciousness is part of organismic life. We never have to learn how to produce it or how to utilize it. On a recent trip to Charleston, my wife and I were out in the countryside looking for some good ole fried chicken and cornbread. We finally found a small roadside diner and ordered. As the waitress was walking away, I said, “Oh yes, and add some grits to that order.” She turned back to me, smiled, and said, “Honey, grits come.” Grits come with the order, and so does what we call consciousness. We are lucky for both. More.

One suspects that Gazzaniga is right but what is needed here is a theoretical statement of nature of the limits. For example, if we say “We will never square the circle,” there is a mathematical explanation for why we cannot do so. Absent a boundary of that sort, we are fated to hear a lot more gee-whiz!! from consciousness studies, no matter how ridiculous.

See also: Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness? (Gazzaniga)

Researchers: Could an ancient virus account for human consciousness?

At Scientific American: Science may never solve the riddle of human consciousness

and

The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.

12 Replies to “Neuroscientist: We will never build a machine that mimics our personal consciousness

  1. 1
    FourFaces says:

    Gazzaniga: In the end, we must realize that consciousness is part of organismic life.

    I am tempted to ask, part of ALL organismic life? I strongly suspect not. I don’t believe that a bacterium or even a slug is conscious anymore than a thermostat. Reaction to a stimulus is not proof of consciousness.

    As a Christian, I am inclined to believe that there is something special about certain elements of the human brain (neocortex) that gives them the ability to interact with a soul. This special something is not shared by other types of brains or even large areas of the human brain itself such as the cerebellum.

  2. 2
    Molson Bleu says:

    I agree that it is unlikely that we will build a machine with true consciousness, but I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t build one that mimics it. Even to the point where we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It is all about power and complexity.

  3. 3
    LocalMinimum says:

    I find these AI discussions to be plagued by a cloud of ill-defined, undefined, and personally interpreted terms.

    The Turing Test has been passed, we’ve mimicked consciousness in the common sense of the word. Not reliably or repeatably, but we’ve fooled people, and we’re getting better at it.

    Maybe “simulate”, or better yet, “synthesize” is the word to use? If you actually produce consciousness on some level, you’ve done better than “mimic” it.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Fooling people is different from having the thing in itself.

  5. 5
    Molson Bleu says:

    “Fooling people is different from having the thing in itself.”

    This may be so. But if it is impossible to discern the difference, where does that leave real conciousness?

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, remember, you are dealing with the self-referential. Do you or do you not have a direct knowledge of your own self-awareness? Do you or do you not know what it is to be appeared to redly? And more? That is the context in which you experience the world. We already have specific reason to know that computation is not the same as reasoning. And, there are ways to test for genuine creativity rather than mere stepping through a stored knowledge base to produce a heuristic solution. Start with: go write an epic poem in a fresh style. Behind all of this is, no surprise, the law of identity: a thing is itself [i/l/o its core characteristics] and not something else. KF

  7. 7
    Molson Bleu says:

    “Do you or do you not have a direct knowledge of your own self-awareness?”

    I certainly think that I do. But I am also self aware in my dreams, and my dreams, although based on my perception of reality, are certainly not based on any direct, immediate and real perception of reality.

    “Do you or do you not know what it is to be appeared to redly?”

    I’m afraid that I do not understand this question. Is there a typo?

    “And, there are ways to test for genuine creativity rather than mere stepping through a stored knowledge base to produce a heuristic solution. Start with: go write an epic poem in a fresh style.”

    If that is the criteria to discern consciousness, then the vast majority of earth’s population would not pass it. I think that is my point. The more powerful and complicated the computer becomes, and the more comprehensive the programming, it might become impossible to discern between true consciousness and a computer. And if this ever comes to pass, what does this mean? That the computer is, for all intents and purposes, conscious? Or that we still know very little of what it means to be conscious? I suspect the latter.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    MB, I gave a blatant case. I spoke to the quality of experience, in this case on seeing the redness of an object. Dream states of course are altered states of consciousness. KF

  9. 9
    Molson Bleu says:

    “MB, I gave a blatant case. I spoke to the quality of experience, in this case on seeing the redness of an object.”

    With respect, you said: “Do you or do you not know what it is to be appeared to redly?”

    I honestly could not figure out what you were saying. That is why I asked if there was a typo.

    “Dream states of course are altered states of consciousness.”

    But what are their purpose? Some people have lucid dreams. Some have nightmares. Some don’t recall having dreams at all. And If they are just altered states of reality, how do we know that what we perceive when we are awake are not also altered states?

  10. 10
    LocalMinimum says:

    kf @ 4: Precisely. Mimicry is about fooling, but what the gentleman seems to be referencing is actually producing consciousness. That wouldn’t be simple mimicry, so I find the choice of word poor.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    MB,

    altered states of consciousness.

    The phrase be appeared to redly is part of a discussion of qualia. And yes that is philosophical.

    The debates over which is more veridical, dream vs waking, is part of a much broader question. This goes to the Parable of Plato’s Cave or in modern terms The Matrix.

    Cutting the long tale short, it is reasonable to hold that any view that implies the general falsity or dubiousness of our awareness of the world is an appeal to grand delusion that self-referentially undermines thought, argument, discussion and rationality.

    Dreams are part of refactoring waking experiences in memory, and in various traditions can serve as gateways for epiphanies.

    Strange, that rare word twice at UD in a few days.

    Appeals to grand delusion can be safely set aside as absurd.

    KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    LM, the Turing test is about fooling the person looking on or interacting with what could be a machine or a person. Searle on the Chinese Room is telling. There has also been an article on translation that exposes the gaps by way of Google Translate as AI. KF

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