How will we know when AI gains consciousness?

How will we know when AI gains consciousness?

exurb1a hypothesizes about some of the very real horrors that current social media bots are capable of doing. Pro-tip – get the HECK off social media and stop trusting anything you read there because this stuff has already been happening on every social media, dating, review, and news feed apps since even before the 2016 election.

His speculations? Perhaps AI personas will become so realistic and comforting to us that we’ll stop interacting with each other – and spend our lives conversing and in relationships with non-entities.

Or (as is already happening) governments, extremist groups, media, and intelligence agencies weaponized AI to flood the internet with manipulated stories, data, and opinions. Finally (as if becoming unable to form real relationships and being in relationships with AI is not scary enough) he asks what if AI itself becomes conscious.

One of the main reasons this would be terrifying is because right now we have no way to ensure alignment of AI to any set of values.

When the AI becomes able to mimic humans so well that it can convince anyone of anything – even talking to it becomes infinitely dangerous. We could have just created an almost infinitely hyper-intelligent demon, trickster, and sociopath.

See how deep the rabbit hole goes – and the majority of the possible outcomes are not good.

One thought on “How will we know when AI gains consciousness?

  1. It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with only primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

    What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

    I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

    My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at

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