In my last article on transhumanism and qualia we looked at the definition of qualia and biological experiments that suggest qualia are nothing more then a physical outcome of a complex system, (for now the brain). But what if qualia is not physical in nature in the same way we think of the typical physicalist notion of an atom? What if qualia was not purely biologically evolved, instead was/is part of the universe like the “strings” in M-theory and String Theory, or the basic hydrogen atom? I will argue in defense of quaila and suggest that logical operators can be “felt” by the current human mind.
In recent news, transhumanists got very excited over the “passing of the Turing Test”.
Indeed, in a recent poll the IEET audience voted 65% that “Yes, the [Turing Test] is a strong indication of a mind like a human's.”
However, As NPR puts it:
“In the recent Royal Society competition, a bot called Eugene Goostman managed to convince a third of the judges it was a human on the basis of a five-minute exchange. That narrowly exceeded Turing's more or less arbitrary 30 percent threshold, and the organizers proclaimed it a "historic milestone."”... And Goostman's creators ratcheted down the judges' expectations still further by having the bot claim to be a 13-year-old boy from Ukraine. That seemed to account for its faulty English and limited world knowledge, not to mention some of its off-the-wall answers — what sounds merely witless in grown-ups is apt to come off in a 13-year-old as simple attitude.” - NPR
If we look deeper into the recent situation, we find that many in the transhumanist community have their doubts. But this does not keep us from seriously thinking about a conscious mind made of computer algorithms and fast supercomputer's. Many still believe in the technological singularity, and I personally cannot blame them. IFF (if and only if) the mind can be reproduced in a computer simulating exactly that of neurons, why not believe it can also produce consciousness? The subject of different ways to create a mind beyond replicating the human mind, or an animal's mind, is, for now, not a deep concern of this particular article.
Last year the Blue Brain Project claimed a signal of “brain waves” coming from their simulation. If this is true, it is an argument for simulated consciousness. But we run into issues all over the place. We know that parts of the brain do not necessarily contribute to consciousness. Brain waves can exist without consciousness (although some have shown that Gamma waves (detected from the brain) are needed for consciousness.
This all brings up a very important dilemma – can computer algorithms based on logic, create true Strong Artificial Intelligence (SAI)? Here I think of two concerns:
1. SAI is not “AI”, for there is no “artificial” anything involved.
2. Logic, the very basis of computer programming languages, is still totally up for grabs concerning the epistemic significance and understanding.
First, let's look at #1. It seems very likely that if SAI were to exist in it's fullest – consciousness and all – there is nothing un-natural about it. Indeed, if the simulation or neural network passes the Turing Test and beyond, so that it is not solely based on logical outputs (like the latest “Turing Test” stunt), but instead “critical thinking” and awareness, it then is a result of evolution in very much the same way we evolved.
Although we “created” it, it may not be so “artificial” in nature after all. It may just be tapping into the universe's ability to create consciousness, which, even though the overall mechanism is built by humans, is only an example of human intelligence.
Second, lets look at the epistemic problem of logic. Metaphysically we do not know how it is that “and”, “or” and “not” are “hardwired” into the universe. It does seem that these logical operators are hardwired into our universe, a priori – but this does not help us at all in understanding machine consciousness if it is purely based on logic like in the Turing Test.
As a fan of Turing, and his life's works, I unfortunately need to turn to the basis of the logic, and in so doing, undermining the Test a bit.
So back to qualia and problem #2. If we look at the epistemic and metaphysical significance of “and”, “or”, and “not”, we also have on our hands the very essence of their acceptability to a conscious mind.
If you do not “feel” “what it is like” to experience “and”, “or”, and “not”, you may be missing the entire point of this article. It does indeed feel like something to think “well I can go to school today or not.” That feeling is just that, a feeling, in which you are conscious of. Why we feel qualia and are conscious of metaphysical and epistemic properties (which most likely are a priori) will be the subject of my next article on the subject of qualia and "AI."