Thursday, February 25, 2016

Aeon: Consciousness Creep

But who’s to say machines don’t already have minds? What if they take unexpected forms, such as networks that have achieved a group-level consciousness? What if artificial intelligence is so unfamiliar that we have a hard time recognising it? Could our machines have become self-aware without our even knowing it? The huge obstacle to addressing such questions is that no one is really sure what consciousness is, let alone whether we’d know it if we saw it. In his 2012 book, Consciousness, the neuroscientist Christof Koch speculated that the web might have achieved sentience, and then posed the essential question: ‘By what signs shall we recognise its consciousness?’

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