Computer Consciousness – let the games begin!

Over at the Neurdon blog we’re following a great series about Artificial Intelligence “AI” in general and about developments in Darpa SyNAPSE, the best funded project to date that is working on a “general artificial intelligence” – in short a machine that can think pretty much like we do.

This is the article, about a new chip called a “Memristor”  that seemed to spawn a lot of discussion.   It’s a new approach under development as part of the DARPA SyNAPSE project.  [thanks to my good pal Roy K who always forwards me very interesting stuff!]

It’s encouraging to see the debate over computer consciousness take such a serious tone as this topic is arguably one of the most intriguing in all of human history.    Many experts believe we’ll see machines become self-aware within 10-20 years.    Given the massive computational superiority computers already enjoy over humans, one can make a strong case that a conscious computer – or more likely a computer + human brain hybrid – will  clone its intellect and improve that intellect over and over in a very short time, leading to levels of intelligence far beyond that of “normal” humans.

Also encouraging that pioneers in the field like the article’s authors:  Sean Lorenz, Heather Ames & Massimiliano Versace are willing to discuss this topic rather than shelve it as so many in computer research have done.    I think early inflated optimism about artificial intelligence led to so much disappointment in the computer community that the “old guard” programmers are being too stubborn now, especially in the face of very significant advances in the understanding of human neurobiology and in computational speeds and memory capacities.

From the post ” Moneta_And_The_C_Word”

Although Searle has argued for biological embodiment as a necessity for causation of consciousness, this paper puts forth the argument that biological embodiment is not the only embodiment that can produce consciousness. Instead, we argue that the brain is an optimal form of embodiment giving rise to consciousness because it can produce observable reports, oral reports, and observed and measured activity. The first two qualifications of consciousness can be replicated with computer simulations as discussed by the proponents of WBE. However, the third qualification requires a unique stipulation for embodiment that is able to self organize and generate unique global and local patterns of activities within its constituent elements. At this point in time, this is only achievable within brain tissue. However, with the advancement of neural chip development, we would argue that embodiment necessary for consciousness would be achievable in a new medium, the neuromorphic chip.

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