Conscious machines: How will we test artificial intelligence for feeling?

A review of the multifaceted questions we'll ask to determine whether robots have a felt quality of experience — an "inner feel."

  • The reason we entertain thought experiments such as reincarnation and an afterlife is because we're sentient beings. These concepts are innate to our experiences as conscious human beings.
  • The ACT test probes A.I. to examines whether it can grasp these questions — i.e., the mind existing separately from the body, or the system without the computer. If so, then there's reason to believe it's a conscious being.
  • For machines to develop consciousness, they will need to have the right architectural features. For instance, for humans we possess a working memory, attention, and brain stems — all of which serve as the neural basis of our conscious experience. If there is a machine analog to these things, then it may suggest that the machines are conscious as well.
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Is panpsychism accurate? Modern physics delivers a reality check.

If philosophers don't try to mesh their long-held views with new scientific insights, then we have a problem.

  • According to panpsychists, all of reality is infused with experience. In other words, the fundamental ingredient of reality, they believe, has the felt quality of experience in it.
  • In this view, the reason that we humans are conscious is that we're configured based on these fundamental experiential ingredients.
  • If philosophers don't try to mesh their long-held views with what we're discovering from good science, then we have a problem. For instance, panpsychism may be due for an update: panprotopsychism, a view that says as these fundamental ingredients combine, they give rise to conscious experience and that those fundamental ingredients are "quasimental."
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