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    Can machines be conscious?

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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Freakzilla » 05 Apr 2010 16:19

    I don't buy consciousness being all that special. I think we'll eventually figure out how the brain works and once we do we'll be able to reproduce it mechanically.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Apr 2010 18:12

    Alright, I got some free time to kill so I'll take a crack at providing some better answers to the second half of your post now.

    Leto Atreides II wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:Because our statement is grounded in reality and yours is off in never-never-land, the onus of proof falls on you.
    How is it grounded in reality to presume that a brain generates consciousness, when this cannot yet be demonstrated? A presumption is a presumption.


    If I have to explain this to you you're a lost cause. I'm going to try one last time, with a modified version of an example that came up earlier.

    If I handed someone from a 60 years ago a computer from today, they would NOT be able to figure it out, but anyone with some experience with the simple computers of the time would know enough to know that it is just a machine performing it's function. If someone from that period then said "no way, you can't prove that it does everything it does purely by mechanical/electrical means so my assumption that it has some kind of extra energy/soul running it is just as valid as your assumption that it's just a machine" most educated people would say that while neither can be proven, one is more grounded in reality than the other.

    A presumption is not a presumption. There are endless examples of situations where two people would make differing assumptions, based on various levels of evidence and logic, and one person's presumption would be significantly more likely than the other's. The fact that you would resort to "a presumption is a presumption" is just laughable.

    Leto Atreides II wrote: Is simpler science necessarily better science?


    Nope. I didn't say that - this is that classic BS tactic that I expect out of certain people. I said something about your specific argument and you try to make me look a fool by stating that I apply that to all arguments. In MOST cases the simplest explanation is the correct one, not all. This is obvious, and you know it's obvious. You're making arguments that you know aren't even based on something I've said because you don't have proper rebuttals for what I am ACTUALLY SAYING.

    Leto Atreides II wrote: If I were to introduce walkie-talkies to seventeenth century Englishmen without explaining the underlying principle, and they assumed that the antennas broadcast the sound by directed sound-waves alone (if that were the conclusion they were to reach), should they discard my suggestion of invisible radio waves as being an unnecessarily complicated theory?


    That's a not bad example for your side of the argument, maybe we'll get something out of you other than the "well you can't prove I'm wrong so therefor I'm just as right as you" arguments you've been repeating over and over! Nicely done. Yes, they would say that, and yes they would be wrong. But you would be able to prove them wrong very quickly by demonstrating that a direct line of sight path between the two walkie talkies is totally silent, thus disproving their idea.

    The difference is that your assumption is a wild guess. I've at no point said that your position is totally impossible, just that your argument is weak. I've already said this once before in this discussion - other people have come to the same conclusion as you, but with better logic. I respect those people. Your argument has been that since neither of us can prove our points all our positions are equally valid.

    Let's add another position for fun. My friend says that conciousness is caused by an indetectable alien that follows you around all day and controls your mind. The alien has a soul, so no need to explain it's consciousness.

    Well, that hasn't been disproven has it? Must be valid!

    Leto Atreides II wrote:You seem to see yourself as enlightened, as discarding the fancies of the ignorant. Yet your attitude is not far off from that of the ultra-conservative Christian, who simply rejects any ideas that don't mesh with his religious rhetoric because they are 'obviously heretical'.


    I don't reject any ideas that don't mesh with my "rhetoric" or worldview, or understanding of science. I welcome them happily - I'm not interested in proving my ideas right, I'm interested in finding the truth. This again is the same tactic as earlier - I reject 1 idea from 1 random internet fool and all of a sudden I'm rejecting all ideas that don't mesh? Come on kiddo, you can do better than that!

    And enlightened? I'm guessing you might be referencing our PM conversation a bit there - no, I don't consider myself as an overall enlightened person. Am I more enlightened than some people in some areas? Definitely. I put a lot of thought into things, and have a reasonably high intelligence to back it up (not absurdly high of course, I'm no fantastic genius).

    Leto Atreides II wrote:Purist science recognizes that our grasp of the world is built far more on theory than on any proven facts; at any time, a scientist must be prepared to let go of a long-held theory to make way for a new one, as old errors are discovered or new knowledge comes to light. The practical point of science fiction is that it uses the imagination to explore what may turn out to be science fact. "Even when we eventually prove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness"", you say, as if science could not possibly prove something completely different. I say science has brought the unseen to light before; and I shall be surprised if it never brings new unseen things to light again.


    This is where you really think you'll win the argument, because everything you say here is true. The trick is that you're trying to convince me, yourself, others... someone, that I don't agree with this paragraph. I agree with it FULLY.

    That doesn't mean I'm going to take every completely unfounded and weak-logic based idea that random internet people spout as legitimate. I've said several times that I'm well aware of the fact that we may find out that the brain doesn't add up to conciousness, I just find that to be a vastly vastly less likely explanation.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 05 Apr 2010 21:56

    Hi Lotek,

    Just to clear up my curt comment: what I meant was that mostly, the Loonies didn't know about Mike's consciousness.
    I wasn't making any extra-mystical claims for machine souls.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby lotek » 06 Apr 2010 02:13

    Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:Hi Lotek,

    Just to clear up my curt comment: what I meant was that mostly, the Loonies didn't know about Mike's consciousness.
    I wasn't making any extra-mystical claims for machine souls.


    fair enough
    do you believe in hidden machines intelligence, even potentially though?
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 06 Apr 2010 02:25

    lotek wrote:
    Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:Hi Lotek,

    Just to clear up my curt comment: what I meant was that mostly, the Loonies didn't know about Mike's consciousness.
    I wasn't making any extra-mystical claims for machine souls.


    fair enough
    do you believe in hidden machines intelligence, even potentially though?


    I try not to believe in stuff. (I don't always succeed, but that's what I aim for) :D

    Theoretically, yes, I wouldn't totally reject the idea, but I've never had experience of a machine with consciousness.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby lotek » 06 Apr 2010 04:37

    just checking you're not a Loonie before I start talking with you about this subject ;)
    I see it the same way, I am not against the idea when it makes a good story but fact and fiction are two separate words and concepts.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Orthodox » 07 Apr 2010 14:31

    The U.S. and other countries have several Self-Piloting drones that use AI to do reconnaissance with. They take off on their own, target and map things on their own, pick up interesting things and make note of them, and will pilot itself back to the airstrip when the mission is completed. It makes it's own decisions based on the variables that have been programmed into it.

    In much the same way, the variables that surround us from nature, as well as those are genetically within us from our genetic pool, influence our decision making. The difference being that machines are affected only by the environment they are in, if they are programmed to be. There is also a robotic ping-pong player named Topia, that learns as it plays. The next is expected to be much better.

    These machines are interesting in that they emulate the condition, but do not realize it, or facilitate it. To me, from what I understand, the only way to allow a machine to become self-aware, is to program it to be self-aware. If we follow a creation model, that was the case with humans. We became self-aware because that is how God made us. If you follow the evolutionary model, it is because of our evolution through time that we became self-aware.

    In either principle -- eventually, if it is made to learn on it's own every parameter, as well as to write it's own parameters, it would become more or less like an animal, and not self-aware. I think instinct would be more a nature of a machine that is constantly adapting, because that is what it is programmed to do. To be it's own personality, from it's own choice would be difficult to differentiate between instinctual development, and conscious development.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Apr 2010 14:49

    Just to add to that though, there are several animals that have been proven to be self-aware/sentient. The question might become not whether something is or isn't conscious, but to what degree exactly. I doubt that it is as black and white as on or off.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Freakzilla » 07 Apr 2010 14:54

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:Just to add to that though, there are several animals that have been proven to be self-aware/sentient. The question might become not whether something is or isn't conscious, but to what degree exactly. I doubt that it is as black and white as on or off.


    I agree, I think it's a matter of degree. I see very few differences between us and animals. We are just animals with rituals.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby lotek » 07 Apr 2010 14:57

    a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Nekhrun » 07 Apr 2010 15:02

    I remember reading an article last year (can't find it at the moment) in which a computer successfully developed it's own hypothesis and conducted research resulting in the creation of new knowledge without the aid of human beings. I want to say that it had something to do with a particular type of bacteria.

    I'll dig around for the reference but this seems to be quite a leap forward in developing conscious machines. Considering they've not been around that long, this seems like only a matter of time before they become just as good at mimicking consciousness as well as most preeks.

    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons

    Maybe, but their morality may differ from ours. They may see this planet as having too many humans on it already and they would be doing the "moral" thing by thinning out the herd, just like we do here with deer and turkey.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Apr 2010 15:06

    Freakzilla wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:Just to add to that though, there are several animals that have been proven to be self-aware/sentient. The question might become not whether something is or isn't conscious, but to what degree exactly. I doubt that it is as black and white as on or off.

    I agree, I think it's a matter of degree. I see very few differences between us and animals. We are just animals with rituals.


    I partially agree, I think a lot of animals are an even zero (or close) on the self-consciousness scale. Some are better than others though. I've seen a few experiments (not repeated enough times or controlled enough to be proof, but very convincing) where chimps, bonobos and orangutans actually BEAT human children in terms of self awareness. Most of these tests involved the ability to recognise self in a mirror (as I said, not proof positive).

    Also, the other side of this issue is intelligence. Again, there are areas where some animals can beat us for intelligence (Chimps routinely demonstrate better counting and memorization skills than even adult humans), but in most areas even the smartest animals aren't even close to us. Chimps fail at very simple physics tests that young children pass with ease for example.

    The difference between humans and animals is probably very huge, but just because the gap between us and the next animals down is massive doesn't mean that there isn't an area of grey in the middle.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Freakzilla » 07 Apr 2010 15:07

    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons


    Maybe we can make drones that like to fight and they will volunteer. :wink:
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Apr 2010 15:09

    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons

    I dissagree, maybe I'm wrong but I've never seen anything that suggests that emotions (the driving force of morality) has anything to do with consciousness, just that obviously humans have both. I think a machine/entity could have emotions without consciousness, and consciousness without emotion (it would just be a consciousness so unlike our own that most people mighyt refuse to recognise it as consciousness). Same goes for morality, or as was just said, the morality may be different than ours - morality is a very fluid thing.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby lotek » 07 Apr 2010 15:09

    Nekhrun wrote:
    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons

    Maybe, but their morality may differ from ours. They may see this planet as having too many humans on it already and they would be doing the "moral" thing by thinning out the herd, just like we do here with deer and turkey.


    absolutely I should have also mentionned the opposite option to make myself clear(just wanted to avoid more talk of giant self aware hunter seekers prone on the destruction of the human race)

    That self awareness would mean a choice based on one's moral values(and there is a wide scope of them)

    Nekhrun wrote:I remember reading an article last year (can't find it at the moment) in which a computer successfully developed it's own hypothesis and conducted research resulting in the creation of new knowledge without the aid of human beings. I want to say that it had something to do with a particular type of bacteria.

    I'll dig around for the reference but this seems to be quite a leap forward in developing conscious machines. Considering they've not been around that long, this seems like only a matter of time before they become just as good at mimicking consciousness as well as most preeks.


    yeah I'd be interested to learn more about that piece of news, a computer developing and proving its own hypothesis would be quite a breakthrough!
    And I think that any home pc is just as smart if not more than the average preeq :)
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby lotek » 07 Apr 2010 15:12

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:
    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons

    I dissagree, maybe I'm wrong but I've never seen anything that suggests that emotions (the driving force of morality) has anything to do with consciousness, just that obviously humans have both. I think a machine/entity could have emotions without consciousness, and consciousness without emotion (it would just be a consciousness so unlike our own that most people mighyt refuse to recognise it as consciousness). Same goes for morality, or as was just said, the morality may be different than ours - morality is a very fluid thing.


    yeah that's quite a philosophical ground to tread, but as I tried to be more precise in my answer to Nekhrun, I should have said "if the drone choses to fight or not for its own personal reasons" and leave morality out of it...
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Orthodox » 07 Apr 2010 15:24

    Nekhrun wrote:I remember reading an article last year (can't find it at the moment) in which a computer successfully developed it's own hypothesis and conducted research resulting in the creation of new knowledge without the aid of human beings. I want to say that it had something to do with a particular type of bacteria.

    I'll dig around for the reference but this seems to be quite a leap forward in developing conscious machines. Considering they've not been around that long, this seems like only a matter of time before they become just as good at mimicking consciousness as well as most preeks.

    lotek wrote:a self aware drone would be one who would refuse to "fight" for moral reasons

    Maybe, but their morality may differ from ours. They may see this planet as having too many humans on it already and they would be doing the "moral" thing by thinning out the herd, just like we do here with deer and turkey.


    If your moral guideline was to complete the mission, your moral decision would be based on that. Drones if self-aware do what they must, like any soldier. The only moral obligation anyone ever encounters is out of human-philosophic idealism, and religious reasoning. In feudal or tribal times, war is not as common. In today's society -- no matter where you live -- there is always a war going on. Always. That is the nature of governing.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Freakzilla » 07 Apr 2010 15:24

    BTW, AFAIK the US military drones are mostly remotely piloted, especially ones that carry weapons. Only recon drones are autonomous and I still don't think they trust them to launch and land themselves. Only the mission way-points are pre-programmed.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Orthodox » 07 Apr 2010 15:29

    Freakzilla wrote:BTW, AFAIK the US military drones are mostly remotely piloted, especially ones that carry weapons. Only recon drones are autonomous and I still don't think they trust them to launch and land themselves. Only the mission way-points are pre-programmed.


    The Recon is completely autonomous, landing, take-off and otherwise. I have the PopSci feature on Drones at my work, so I'll get you the quotes from that soon. The feature on their site doesn't have it broken down like it does in the Magazine.

    Drones like the Predator and Reaper / Mantis are piloted for strikes.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Nekhrun » 07 Apr 2010 15:37

    lotek wrote:
    Nekhrun wrote:I remember reading an article last year (can't find it at the moment) in which a computer successfully developed it's own hypothesis and conducted research resulting in the creation of new knowledge without the aid of human beings. I want to say that it had something to do with a particular type of bacteria.

    I'll dig around for the reference but this seems to be quite a leap forward in developing conscious machines. Considering they've not been around that long, this seems like only a matter of time before they become just as good at mimicking consciousness as well as most preeks.


    yeah I'd be interested to learn more about that piece of news, a computer developing and proving its own hypothesis would be quite a breakthrough!
    And I think that any home pc is just as smart if not more than the average preeq :)


    http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/releases/2 ... ntist.aspx

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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Freakzilla » 07 Apr 2010 15:45

    If a machine can mimic intelligence well enough to fool people it may as well be considered intelligent.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Apr 2010 16:17

    Orthodox wrote:
    If your moral guideline was to complete the mission, your moral decision would be based on that. Drones if self-aware do what they must, like any soldier. The only moral obligation anyone ever encounters is out of human-philosophic idealism, and religious reasoning. In feudal or tribal times, war is not as common. In today's society -- no matter where you live -- there is always a war going on. Always. That is the nature of governing.


    Are you sure about that? I'm not saying you're wrong per-say, I've never studied the numbers (if any numbers are kept) but tribes and feudal states seem to historically be pretty fond of slaughtering each other. I doubt very much that there has ever been a time without war.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Orthodox » 07 Apr 2010 16:33

    \
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:
    Orthodox wrote:
    If your moral guideline was to complete the mission, your moral decision would be based on that. Drones if self-aware do what they must, like any soldier. The only moral obligation anyone ever encounters is out of human-philosophic idealism, and religious reasoning. In feudal or tribal times, war is not as common. In today's society -- no matter where you live -- there is always a war going on. Always. That is the nature of governing.


    Are you sure about that? I'm not saying you're wrong per-say, I've never studied the numbers (if any numbers are kept) but tribes and feudal states seem to historically be pretty fond of slaughtering each other. I doubt very much that there has ever been a time without war.


    Numbers wise it depends on how you look at it. Number of wars, or number of casualties. From what I understand about History, feudal and tribal wars happen out of necessity of survival for the people, not political convenience. Though Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed Millions, millions more yet would have died if not for the use of Atomics. The reason being that Japan invented suicide bombers, they were more than willing to die to prevent invasion of the homeland. Japan was obsessed with racial purity. For these reasons, Modern society often sets down some very massive numbers in terms of destructive force in comparison to tribal wars or medieval wars. War in modern society is due to the term-limited governance making decisions (which are so sporadic, no wonder it gets screwed up...) instead of a long-term decision made by the people and it's leaders. When a tribe goes to war, it is a potential life-long commitment. When a society like the U.S. goes to war, it is all based on political expediency on how long it lasts.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Orthodox » 07 Apr 2010 16:40

    Orthodox wrote:
    Freakzilla wrote:BTW, AFAIK the US military drones are mostly remotely piloted, especially ones that carry weapons. Only recon drones are autonomous and I still don't think they trust them to launch and land themselves. Only the mission way-points are pre-programmed.


    The Recon is completely autonomous, landing, take-off and otherwise. I have the PopSci feature on Drones at my work, so I'll get you the quotes from that soon. The feature on their site doesn't have it broken down like it does in the Magazine.

    Drones like the Predator and Reaper / Mantis are piloted for strikes.


    Found the article. I will list it as it does, in it's "Field Guide"
    PopSci wrote:Image
    Current: RQ-4 Global Hawk (Northrop Grumman)

    Habitat: High above Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—or anywhere else the U.S. Central Command wants to keep under watch.

    Behavior: Soaring at 65,000 feet with an endurance of 36 hours, the Global Hawk can keep watch over 40,000 nautical square miles per mission. Carrying a full suite of electro-optical, infrared and synthetic aperture radar sensors, it can operate day and night in all weather conditions. The larger variation has a 130-foot wingspan.

    Notable Feature: The fact that it can take off and land autonomously greatly reduces the potential for crashes, which have handicapped the Predator and Reaper.


    And then there is the MANTIS, which is in testing phases.

    PopSci wrote:Image
    Future: Mantis
    Ronen Nadir/Bluebird Aero Systems
    Class: Autonomous

    Habitat: Up to 40,000 feet above any battlefield, disaster site or border, relaying intelligence data back to controllers on the ground

    Behavior: All a soldier will have to do to send the self-piloted Mantis on a mission is push a button. From there, it can calculate flight plans, fly around obstacles, and check in with ground controllers when it spots something interesting, like smoke or troop movement. At the end of the mission, it flies home and lands itself. Mantis’s maiden flight went off without a hitch in Australia last October, an astoundingly fast development—it didn’t even exist in 2007. BAE Systems expects it to be ready for sale within two years and hopes to use it as a proving ground for systems in its forthcoming automated stealth bomber, the Taranis.

    Notable Feature: Mantis is the first in a new breed of smart drones. A craft that can hone its searches requires less bandwidth than those that constantly stream images. Mantis can also monitor itself for damage—a sputtering engine, for example—and adjust its electronics to complete a mission. It can fly up to 345 miles an hour and operate for up to 36 hours.


    Then of course, this is all prep for the TARANIS which is a Stealth Bomber equivalent of the MANTIS.

    EDIT: Added the Second Drone which I was talking about earlier.
    EDIT 2: Fixed the alignment and tags.
    Last edited by Orthodox on 07 Apr 2010 16:48, edited 1 time in total.
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    Re: Can machines be conscious?

    Postby Nekhrun » 07 Apr 2010 16:46

    I would like to see how this thread evolves over the next 5 years. It will be interesting to go back to page one after we see what those crazy scientists come up with in the near future.
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