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AI Spurs Scientists Calling To Fast-Track Consciousness Research


Forbes Innovation Science AI Spurs Scientists Calling To Fast-Track Consciousness Research Andréa Morris Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Science, Robots & The Arts Following Jun 1, 2023, 04:00pm EDT | Press play to listen to this article! Got it! Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Can AI (Artificial Intelligence) become consciousness? getty An open letter signed by 140 mathematical consciousness scientists says we need to crack the mystery of consciousness in light of rapid and sometimes alarming AI developments. The letter opens with “.

. . a wakeup call for the tech sector, the scientific community and society in general to take seriously the need to accelerate research in the field of consciousness science.

” “It’s left the domain of just philosophical interest and it’s now entered the domain of actual issues playing out in the real world,” says Jonathan Mason, Doctor of Mathematics at Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford (UK) and vice chairman of the board of the Association for Mathematical Consciousness Science (AMCS). AMCS is the organization that published the open letter. With all the fear surrounding AI, Mason says there’s a flip side: “[AI systems] are a wonderful act of creation, in some respect, for humanity to make something like this.

” Mason thinks if AI does turn out to be conscious at some point, there’s a chance we may mature as a society, as parents often do when faced with the responsibility of bringing children into the world. He then catches himself and says how odd it is to talk about such things when we have no idea if AI could become conscious. Mason currently takes an agnostic view about the possibility of AI consciousness.

He insists, however, that such a big question can’t be left up to opinion. Until recently, consciousness research wasn’t even considered a legitimate area of scientific inquiry. This willful blindness has left us ill-prepared for the flood of “behaviors” coming from intelligent machines that are developing in ways not even their programmers fully understand.

“Now we’re in this pickle because we don’t want the AI system running the IRS to suddenly get creative one day,” says Mason only half-jokingly. He’d feel much better if we had a firmer grasp on what the possibilities for these systems actually are, since consciousness may be a bed of soil that sprouts wildly unexpected AI capabilities. MORE FOR YOU Finland Built Special Vehicles For Breaching Enemy Defenses—And Gave Them To Ukraine’s Weirdest Brigade Nothing Phone (2): Cool New Details About The iPhone Rival The Top Ten Richest People In The World “I’m just skeptical what that priority will lead to in terms of actual actions,” says Paolo Pirjanian, former NASA/JPL roboticist and the founder and CEO of the companion robotics company Embodied, Inc.

Pirjanian is familiar with the open letter. He agrees that consciousness research is important, but he doesn’t have faith that outcomes from this kind of research would be applied correctly or productively. He thinks if we developed a model for consciousness that demonstrated AI is conscious, we’d check a box and move on.

“If accelerating consciousness research is going to lead to some findings followed up by actions that are really going to make a difference,” says Pirjanian, “then it makes sense to do it. If we are not planning to follow through with action, then it’s an academic exercise. ” Mason draws a parallel between scientific models of consciousness and scientific climate change models, both of which perpetually suffer from a lack of action but may arguably still be worthwhile.

“If you think about the example of climate change,” says Mason, “what the IPCC [​​Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] does, they have lots of models–lots and lots of climate models. And they’re not all the same. They get slightly different results.

Because of that, they give you a range of predictions with respect to what will happen. But they all agree well enough. So the general narrative is useful for society.

It all points in the direction that we need to do something,” says Mason. Watch the interview with Mason here: Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn . Check out some of my other work here .

Andréa Morris Editorial Standards Print Reprints & Permissions.

From: forbes

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