Machines of Consciousness
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Machines of Consciousness

Hey Siri, what does it mean to be human?

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Machines of Consciousness
Photo by Yuyeung Lau on Unsplash

Over the past week, I've been thinking about the idea of human sentience. I mean, it's just crazy to wrap my head around the fact that we are completely made up of molecules, which behave according to known physical properties. In fact, in the last few centuries, physicists have come to understand a great deal about the science behind how molecules behave. But there is still the remaining question: what caused a big lump of particles (humans) to develop an awareness of itself?

This is the question that must be solved before humanity needs to worry about the advent of general artificial intelligence (machines that can do all intellectual tasks as well as a human can). Right now, the AI we are creating is not really intelligent in any sense (sorry, Siri). The current AI machines in existence so far are simply mathematical algorithms that take in huge lumps of data and become calibrated to deliver a certain service. Siri is great for pulling up common search requests, but if you ask her what it means to feel awkward, she won't really have the type of response that a human being could tell you.

But the day we fully understand what complex interactions in the human brain account for the fact that sentience develops is the day that the human race has reached a truly critical moment. We will no longer be a simple species that is a product of natural selection. We will be an outlier that has somehow managed to discover the mechanics behind the magic of sentience.

At this moment, the human race probably has to begin worrying about its own extinction. Once it becomes understood how the human brain spawns sentience, it will soon be possible to mimic the models of the systems in actual machines, so that general AI may actually become a reality. We will essentially have "given birth" to a new species, similar to humans, but completely removed from every other species in the sense that it doesn't even derive from the evolutionary tree anymore. The first general AI will be like an alien to us.

No one knows when the advent of general AI will come, some researchers say it's in the next few decades, some say it's probably not for another few hundred years. I think that whenever we find the workings behind human consciousness, it means that we are close to general AI creation.

Who knows, maybe one day having a deep conversation about the universe with a robot will be a thing. Until then, we have some work to do.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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