[ExI] Conscious AI or a Zombie?

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sat Jul 8 22:41:17 UTC 2023

Quoting William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat  
<extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>:

> Except for smell, sensations come to us from our unconscious mind.  There
> they get routed to various brain areas and then, only perhaps (they could
> be shut down and never get to the forebrain) to upper areas.  These
> processes are aware of the nature of the stimuli and know where to send
> them, but they are not available to our conscious mind.

Here "conscious and unconscious mind" are psychological terms of art  
that do not correspond to the term consciousness as generally defined.  
The conscious mind and the unconscious mind are manifested by  
different regions of the same brain and both play a role in the  
brain's generation of a state of consciousness.

After all, we are as organisms, a collective of 37 trillion cells each  
with their own little lives, each doing a valuable job for the body.  
Some 100 billion of them are neurons who get to live inside the skull  
and operate a giant network called the brain. The neurons of the  
prefrontal cortex in the forebrain are responsible for executive  
functioning and your collective identity. They are like the parliament  
of your body. Obviously, like all parliaments, the forebrain typically  
does not attend to minute details of sensation, just as parliament  
does attend to the plight of individual citizens. There is definitely  
a sense in which the conscious mind is less aware of its environment  
moment to moment than are other parts of the brain. Some part of your  
brain has to take over your driving home from work when your conscious  
mind wanders.

> Or you could say that these unconscious processes are really conscious but
> simply not available to what we call our conscious mind.  Thus you can have
> awareness or consciousness in part of the brain but not the part we think
> of as our consciousness.

It is exactly this slippery fluidity of the meaning of the word  
consciousness that made me define the more rigorous term "causal  
awareness". There are parts of your brain that are causally aware of  
your drive home, even if your conscious mind finds itself on your  
street with no recollection of you got there. Unless of course, you  
hit stopped traffic due to an accident. Then your conscious mind has  
to micromanage your drive and boy is it annoyed by that. So I think it  
is entirely fair to say that your brain as a whole is more conscious  
than your forebrain and the conscious mind that it manifests.

> If an organism deals in some appropriate way with incoming stimuli you
> could call it aware.  Amoebas do that.

Yes, causal awareness is a function that maps an input vector from an  
organism's sensorium to an output vector processed by the organism's  
motorium. The difference between an amoeba and a human, in this  
regard, is that the human's causal awareness vector is of much higher  
dimension than an amoeba's. A thermostat could be considered a  
one-dimensional vector function, an amoeba maybe a few tens of  
dimensions, a human perhaps a few thousands, and so forth.

Stuart LaForge

> On Sun, Jul 2, 2023 at 1:02 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Stuart,
>> Thank you for putting your argument into such clear words. I agree
>> completely with your definition of CAP.
>> Also, those videos of the AI and robotic soccer players are great. I also
>> agree it is not logically possible to say these entities are not aware of
>> the ball, and what else is consciousness, beyond "awareness"? If the bots
>> are aware of the ball (which they plainly are), then they're conscious of
>> it.
>> Jason
>> On Sat, Jul 1, 2023 at 6:16 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> Quoting Jason Resch via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>:
>>>> If you believe that philosophical zombies are logically impossible, then
>>>> consciousness is logically necessary (in the presence of certain
>>>> behavioral, sensory, and introspective capacities).
>>> Actually, I would more rigorously say that philosophical zombies are
>>> impossible precisely BECAUSE they violate what I call causal awareness
>>> principle or CAP. Causal awareness is hereby defined as the ability to
>>> sense, act on, and react to ones environment as well as ones own
>>> effect on it. Anything that is causally aware is able to act
>>> rationally. Consciousness is necessary, but not sufficient, for causal
>>> awareness, and therefore, rational action. However, something cannot
>>> act rationally without being conscious too. Acting in ones own best
>>> interests requires consciousness. A sentient being must be conscious
>>> of those interests and the means to achieve them in the context of a
>>> changing environment.
>>> Here rational action is used as a proxy for intelligent behavior. That
>>> is to say that philosophical zombies cannot exist because they would
>>> have no way to display intelligent goal-seeking behavior because they
>>> would not be conscious of any goal; Therefore, they could not be
>>> conscious of how to navigate the environment to achieve a goal; nor,
>>> would they be conscious of whether they had achieved the goal or not.
>>> That is to say, that logically, a philosophical zombie does not have
>>> the logical properties necessary to fit its own definition.
>>> Philosophical zombies are an unwarranted assumption to make the Hard
>>> Problem of consciousness seem like a different question than the
>>> so-called Easy Problem, whereas, CAP says that the complete solution
>>> of the Easy Problem, is also the solution to Hard Problem.
>>> While pre-programmed behavior could mimic rational action in the short
>>> term, any sufficient change in the p-zombie's environment, like a new
>>> obstacle, would thwart it, and expose it as a zombie. In the harsh
>>> world of nature, philosophical zombies, even if they came to exist by
>>> some extraordinary chance, would quickly go extinct.
>>> Therefore philosophical zombies, as opposed to fungal zombies, are
>>> both logically and physically impossible. It is, in short, impossible
>>> to do what humans evolved from worms to be able to do, without being
>>> in some measure, more conscious than a worm.
>>>> Accordingly, I believe
>>>> that consciousness was an unavoidable consequence during the course of
>>>> evolution of life on Earth as once nature created creatures having
>>> certain
>>>> capacities/abilities, consciousness had no other choice but to exist, it
>>>> became logically necessary.
>>> Yes, there is certainly a natural history of consciousness. You can
>>> look at the evolution of the nervous system of vertebrates through the
>>> process of encephalization and decussation and see a causal narrative.
>>> The moment life decided to detach itself from the ocean bottom and
>>> move around looking for food, a complete, or open, digestive system
>>> with a seperate mouth and anus became advantageous. Once it started
>>> moving mouth first through the world, sensory organs like eyes or
>>> antennae became advantageous; Moreover, those creatures which evolved
>>> sensory organs like taste-buds and eyes near their mouths, as opposed
>>> to near their anus, had a survival advantage.
>>> Once an organism had a concentration of senses on its rostral or front
>>> end, that end became differentiated from the caudal or rear end of the
>>> organism. The cluster of sensory organs became a rudimentary head. As
>>> part of that differentiation called encephalization, it became
>>> advantageous for that organism to develop an organ to process the
>>> sensory information and locate it near the sense organs. The organ I
>>> speak of began as a small nerve cluster. As successive generations of
>>> the organism started moving through the environment faster, sensing
>>> and avoiding danger, finding food and resources, weathering natural
>>> disasters and extinction events, and generally leading more
>>> complicated lives, it finally evolved into the conscious brain.
>>>> The same, I believe, is true for AI. It is unavoidable when we create
>>>> machines of certain abilities, and I believe existing software is
>>> already
>>>> conscious. For example, my open source project on artificial sentience
>>>> could be such an example: https://github.com/jasonkresch/bots
>>> Yes, I agree. These AI learned how to play soccer/football on their
>>> own. They are certainly conscious of one another, the ball, and their
>>> goals and that consciousness allows some very complex goal-seeking
>>> behavior to emerge. By the CAP, these AI agents in the following video
>>> presentation of a recent Science paper by Lui et al.
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHMwq9pv7mg&t=10s.
>>> Some might object because the consciousness is expressed within a
>>> virtual setting. But that's all right because Google built bodies for
>>> the little guys:
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbyQcCT6890
>>> If you push one over, they stand right back up. So yeah, the CAP says
>>> they are rudimentarily conscious because they display causal awareness
>>> and rational action. They lie somewhere between thermostats and humans
>>> on the consciousness scale. Someday, their consciousness may far
>>> surpass ours.
>>> Stuart LaForge
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> extropy-chat mailing list
>>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
>>> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
>> _______________________________________________
>> extropy-chat mailing list
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
>> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list