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AI and Consciousness

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posted on Jan, 9 2017 @ 01:25 AM
There are a lot of really naive people out there who tell one another stories about AI and consciousness and even, as Ray Kurzweil wants to believe, the transferring of a Human mind (or its quantitative equivalent) into a computer which can simulate it.

We've been graced with movies like Her with Scarlett Johannsen and Ex Machina; bicentential man implies some sort of transition from robot/machine to man, and Johnny Depp becomes the entirety of the internet in Transcendence.

The non-scientist/philosopher viewers of these movies have been exposed to these images for so long, that it's taken for granted how utterly, utterly impossible the whole thought experiment really is.

It's a thought experiment, no? Well, those involved in mapping the Human "connectome" - to figure out how all the neurological dynamics at many different scales correlate with cognitive, affective, autonomic and sensorimotor processes - they're all ultimately working towards the goal of goals: to create an artificial intelligence: a creature with consciousness.

Why does Nature Laugh?

Because Humans love making assertions, while forgetting, or simply not knowing, that you cannot "know what you don't know" - and so humility is probably the best epistemological starting point.

How exactly do the 'scientists' who make these claims think up their subject? Well, of course, they follow the "laws" of computer science. Underlying the entirety of the assumption that a computer is like an animal, and just as an animal can be conscious, so can a computer, is the belief that all of reality is binary. Binary. This is a metaphysical assumption, entailing a dualism that dissociates information from energetics - and that, from the perspective of dynamical systems theory, or complexity theory, is a big no no.

The living organism is a self-organizing dynamical feedback loop - with thousands upon thousands of complex networks of connection, hierarchically ordered temporally unfolding correlations, operating along the simple semiotic dynamic of Sign -> Metabolize -> Sign, where the internal state of the dynamical structure seeks to adapt its internal structure to the immediate chemical environment around it. In this sense, the dynamical structure (the proto-cell, or cell) has an internal state of processes that achieve stability or robustness by assuming a particular state. The outside world presents a state - say glucose; the cell's membrane proteins 'sense' glucose, and bring it into the cell, which activates a particular cycle of transformations that manages to reproduce all the essential properties of the cell - lipids, sugars, nucleic acids, amino acids etc; this is called "metabolism".

Now when we think of a neuron, we can think of it in two ways - two competing ways, to be sure, but only one of them is a sensible and honest way of assessing the facts, while the other is wishful thinking - obsessive, and very promothean in nature - motivated by a faith that reason renders into full-blown superstition.

The average cortical neuron has about 100 billion molecules that make it up. Think about that. There are 16 BILLION cortical neurons, and each one is composed of 100 billion molecules. See what the problem is? The AI people collapse all that sub-neuronal complexity into a position of being either "on" or "off". But it can't be just on or off, because neuroscientists who study brain dynamics not levels and degrees of activation. And that means that a neuron can't be coded as merely on or off, because they are not operating in that way.

Projection: The Most Illicit Sin

It is very frustrating living in a world where the vast majority of people do not realize that their capacity to be aware of themselves is precisely an earned quality of being. It is not given or handed to us - but procured - gained by actually exercising this quality called consciousness. But what is consciousness working with, or upon? If you simply pay attention - to your own "percepts" - sights, sounds, but most of all, feelings, you'd see. We respond to our own feelings with feelings ABOUT those feelings. This conscious perception towards your own feeling encodes itself into your reflexive structure, so that next time this feeling arises, you'll be guided preconsciously to an adaptive response - such as an identification with another percept that derives from another scenario, repeated over and over again, and so entraining your structure to the outside.

Do you see the parallel between the biological cell - its energetics of activity, its circular closure, and mode and manner of "metabolizing" external "signs", with the way and manner our consciousness becomes biased by pre-conscious mechanisms that guide us towards certain ways and manner of conceptualizing things?

The AI concept deliberately avoids emotion - and what emotion, or feeling, fundamentally is - and what AI and computer science fundamentally ISN'T: a dissipative structure. Computers do not function in such a way as to continuously replenish their parts by extracting resources from the environment: but this is precisely what organisms do - they process the world, and possess the "Signs" - or circular mechanisms - to generate their structure and create a world.

Gnosticism, Dissociation, And Fantasy

I can't help but sense the latent gnosticism underlying this AI vision. First of all, many consciousness researchers interested in this question love obsessing about "when the AI revolt". First, without even the concept being coherent, they start talking about a revolt. In any case, as a psychologist in training, the very interest - the metaphorical assumption - that the AI would "disobey" its creator, and revolt.

Why believe this, unless you yourself have either consciously or unconsciously committed yourself to a similar way of being? A conscious commitment would mean a commitment to a superstitious dogma - a narrative - that fulfills basic internal patterns of coherency without having any real correlation to reality - and so - an epistemologically valid coherency.

It's unfortunate that Descartes did what he did - and split reality so down the middle - because we are living in a world populated by people who are structurally dissociated from reality - and being narcissists - they merely "drift" with their feelings, justifying them again and again at the cognitive level as they mindlessly move towards oblivion - and bring with them whatever their scope of authority entails.

Anyone with such a philosophy may hold their philosophy - but to aver that AI is possible is to merely project your own life needs i.e. your desire to not know harsh (from your perspective) truths, into a conversation that is not "different" from that life need - but a phantasmagoria - an image in the external world which bears a personal closeness to your fearfulness.

posted on Jan, 9 2017 @ 09:04 AM
Have you perchance watched the Adam Curtis documentary "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"? I think the parallels in the second episode are rather interesting, if not slightly disturbing.

The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts

Great read by the way!

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