I’ve written a few times on the Attention Theory schema of consciousness. It’s a theory I like because it’s scientific, eschewing any mystical steps, such as assuming that consciousness just magically arises at a certain level of complexity. It’s almost certainly not perfect, but I think it’s a major step in the right direction.
Michael Graziano, the author of the theory, has a new article up at Aeon, describing, under his theory, the essential steps in giving a computer consciousness. Of course, the devil is in the details, as they always will be. But it’s a fascinating new way to describe the theory. If you’ve read my previous posts on this and still didn’t feel clear about it, I recommend checking out his article.
Artificial intelligence is growing more intelligent every year, but we’ve never given our machines consciousness. People once thought that if you made a computer complicated enough it would just sort of ‘wake up’ on its own. But that hasn’t panned out (so far as anyone knows). Apparently, the vital spark has to be deliberately designed into the machine. And so the race is on to figure out what exactly consciousness is and how to build it.
…In this article I’ll conduct a thought experiment. Let’s see if we can construct an artificial brain, piece by hypothetical piece, and make it conscious. The task could be slow and each step might seem incremental, but with a systematic approach we could find a path that engineers can follow.