This is one of the most asked questions in the IAsphere. Today, the majority of scientists believe that it is necessary to integrate a form of consciousness into AI for it to be able to equal human intelligence. And rightly so.
If this question cannot be formally answered, because it is difficult to define what consciousness is (if it is even possible), I will try to propose a draft analysis that is in no way a formal proof but a personal approach to the subject.
While it is difficult to define self-awareness, one can, on the other hand, define the human attributes that are not part of it. What is not part of consciousness are all our faculties related to our five senses as well as our faculties of calculation, logic, planning and reasoning.
These are receivers that allow us to interact with the world: our interface to the world. They feed our internal consciousness by allowing it to become externally aware of the elements around it. Nevertheless, a person who does not have any of these abilities would be able to be aware of himself and the present.
Consciousness is something else. It’s the ability to reflect on our thoughts. To look inside us. It is the consciousness of being and thus constitutes the receptacle of morality and free will.
These aspects, we are aware immediately without interface and therefore meaningless. It is therefore impossible for me to scientifically demonstrate its existence. For people who have doubts that there are non-measurable physical phenomena, you can try to prove mathematically that the present exists.
A line is long and a dot has a unique location. So time could be represented as a line, which itself is a sum of unique points. If we represent time as a sum of unique points, we can split the time between past and future. Indeed, at the moment you want to demonstrate that the present exists (a single point of your line), it already belongs to the past point, then there is no present point.
Thus, the present does not exist. But if it doesn’t exist, there is no notion of time! It therefore necessarily exists but is not demonstrable.
I conclude that, like the present, self-awareness has a peculiarity: it is impossible for me to scientifically demonstrate its existence. We know that it simply exists, but we cannot infer formal scientific proof of it.
Free will resides within our conscience
We have shown that consciousness is not demonstrable but is the receptacle of the self and therefore of free will. An artificial intelligence that possesses a self-awareness should therefore possess a free will and thus a form of morality. But morality has no place but in the finitude of the human being.
Free will would make no sense in an immortal world since your choices would have virtually no impact. Free will would literally implode.
Thus, it comes that an artificial intelligence that is not free and does not live (with the possibility of dying) can never be truly conscious.
Simulating finitude within AI
It is clearly impossible to make artificial intelligence human because it cannot die. But would it be possible to simulate finitude in such a way that artificial intelligence believes in it and in fact can become conscious? I’m not sure. But let’s go to the end of the line of reasoning. Suppose we can simulate a form of finitude in such a way that AI admits free will and self-awareness. We would then have in any way a being 1000000000….x smarter than the sum of all human beings on earth, and conscious.
Do you really think he wouldn’t eventually find out he’s not finished? That finitude is intrinsically linked to a human body, itself finite, and that not possessing a body, it (AI) cannot be finished? Of course I do. Thus, it would reject this acceptance of pre-recorded finitude.
By the absurd, one could not simulate a finitude and inject it into the AI without it noticing in hindsight and destroying this idea.
In mathematical terms:
Consciousness – Free Will – Finitude
But if A – B we know that No B – Not A
No (Finite) – No (Free) – No (Conscious)
AI is by definition not finished so not conscious.
Conscious artificial intelligence: a paradox
Being conscious means being subject to morality. There is no room for morality only within our free will. Our free will exists only at the frontiers of the finitude of life. So human consciousness cannot exist without finitude. However, an AI is not finite by definition and therefore cannot be conscious. At least from a human point of view. In the same way that she is not intelligent. From a human point of view. Hence the term artificial intelligence.
Another question arises: how to simulate something that cannot be physically proven? Artificial intelligence developed today builds its intelligence on statistical methods and known mechanisms of the brain (such as neural networks). Thus, it is hard for me to believe that one could simulate an unmeasurable experience such as consciousness.
One cannot imagine a conscious AI, however, we have no idea what else it could develop.
I am convinced that it could develop an artificial form of consciousness that would not resemble human consciousness in anything.
So to the question: will AI ever be conscious? I probably say no to our apprehension of consciousness. But probably yes for another form of consciousness that would not be related to our definition of it.
We find this debate about immortality. Does a human who does not die ever live? And if so, what is the meaning of this life?
- Of course, this analysis only makes sense for those who do not believe in determinism.
- We’re talking about a sense of free will here. An immortal being may be free but finds “virtually no sense” in this free will