Can Artificial Intelligence be self-aware?

December 17, 2018
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has gradually been spreading its wings to more and more sectors wherein only humans could work until now. A prime example of this is the introduction of an artificial intelligence process to vehicles, making self-driving cars a reality.

While this is a significant development, it pales in comparison to the possibilities that could be unlocked if we have a computer that is completely aware of itself and its surroundings. These machines could be sent to do a variety of jobs that humans find difficult.

In fact, it could reach such a point wherein robots replace humans at every job, leaving humans to live their lives in lazy bliss. This could completely shake up society as we know it and leave humans without a sense of purpose. This also raises the question of legality when it comes to robots. Would be held under the same accountability as humans, or scarily still, would they band together and eliminate humans altogether?

There are varying views among researchers about what consciousness is and whether machines could someday achieve it. Some researchers say that consciousness develops with constantly accepting new information, retrieving the old and processing all of it into thoughts and, subsequently actions. If this assumption is true, then any consciousness developed by computers will be the most advanced one, even more so than human consciousness.

They will be able to access millennia worth of information within a fraction of a second and be able to make decisions which are both more complex and more logical than what any person could accomplish. However, some researchers disagree with this opinion,saying that some factors that contribute to consciousness, such as creativity and compassion, are not the result of calculations and will always be exclusive to humans.

Another view of this topic is the quantum view, which takes into account the quantum theory of physics. According to this view, all the physical aspects of this world and consciousness complement each other all the time. It goes on to say that whenever a person observes or manipulates any physical object, noticeable change could be observed due to that person’s conscious interaction with the object.

This can be explained by considering consciousness as something that exists by itself and isn’t derived through physics, merely needing a medium such as a brain to manifest itself. If this is true, it seems highly unlikely that machines would be able to tap into this consciousness.

Another factor to talk about here is computational programming, which is the basis on which every computer on the planet runs. For a computer to be self-aware, it should have the capability to come up with its own language as a means of processing thought through artificial intelligence training course. However, while this has been done by artificial intelligence processes in recent years, these languages still depend on and are based on the instructions given to these machines by humans.

As such, these machines will never be able to reach the same level of thought complexity that would be required to say, write a poem, or even understand empathy and a sense of belonging to the world. So in short, the answer to the question of whether artificial intelligence could become self-aware is, yes but only to an extent.

The likelihood of these machines reaching the level of thought complexity that humans enjoy is extremely less unless there is a breakthrough in our knowledge of how our minds work and we are able to translate that into the code for these computers.

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