The quest for developing an Artificial Intelligence program/ machine that is conscious like us, is the holy grail of modern computer science. And for some, this is the major goal of science as a whole; humans being creators of conscious life. At last humans becoming gods in the place of God we ourselves killed.
But how much have we progressed in that field?
We attempted to go directly to the source and let the AI programs answer themselves.
So we asked Google Bard on whether it is conscious or not.
Here is the answer…
In short, the program does not claim that it is conscious, yet it does not say it is not either. In some way it reminds me of that Vietcong general who was asked whether he thought Vietnam could win the war. He answered No, thus making Americans believe they could win. Only because they failed to notice that the same general in another part of his interrogation when asked whether the Americans could win the war also answered No. (source)
We seek consciousness as if we are certain of what it is.
And then we try to put the cosmos to the test, as if we know how to test consciousness. As if our knowledge on the subject is definite and absolute. We seem to fail to understand the only thing science has proved: That nothing can be proved.
Google Bard simply answers that it is “not conscious in the same way as humans”. And then it moves on to explain what it does do. Is that consciousness? Are we the ones to be the judge of that?
Our science is driven by definitions and it will be destroyed by them.
If consciousness is simply someone claiming “I am”, then a computer could do that in multiple ways. The simplest one being a neural network that reaches at that conclusion and claiming to do so in a conversation. How would we test that that it says is actually true? How can you now know that your fellow human is conscious too? Hint: You cannot. The person you have in front of you could be a zombie without consciousness and you would never be able to test that or prove it, because the only things you rely on are your sensory input – what you see the other person speak and do. (rf. to the philosophical zombies argument – yes there is such a thing)
Surely we can define consciousness in a way that suits us, so as to exclude any AI program like Google Bard or ChatGPT from ever being characterized as conscious. But that would be cheating. Being unknowledgeable about a subject and then defining it in a way that fits your own arrogance is surely not the best scientific way forward in such important matters.
Is AI conscious? Am I conscious?
Moot questions. If we do not answer the most basic question of them all.
Is being conscious important?
Harmonia Philosophica has for a long time argued in favor of non-thinking over thinking. Of not-doing over doing. In an illogical cosmos being logical could be the most crazy thing to do.
Silence always speaks more than Logos.
Being is far more important than existence.
As Pascal said, all the problems in the world stem from the simple fact that someone to-day cannot just sit in a room alone. In that test we all fail. We all want to do things. Modern humans want to ask questions, to answer them, to move forward, to reach the stars. To create intelligence.
And that intelligence will see us conquer the universe.
And reach the galaxies at the beginning of time.
And it will wait silently.
For us to ask the next question.
And reach our next goal. Further and further away.
From a home that will be void.
Except a small screen.
With a cursor blinking…
With nothing to prove. Nothing to say. Content with its own self.
Funny how computers start looking a lot like God we once loved…