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On Artificial Intelligence/Consciousness February 19, 2009

Posted by chris drake in cyborgs, technology.
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When reading Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” and Jackson’s “Patchwork Girl” I couldn’t help but think about where artificial intelligence fits in all of this.  A question that artificial intelligence poses is that if complete ‘AI’ were to be created would these machines be able to become self-aware and be able to retain consciousness? This is the philosophical debate of the possible existence of Artificial Consciousness. Attributing to the mind-body problem, if ‘AC’ were possible it would mean that human consciousness can be tracked back to physical properties and be emulated in machines, if ‘AC’ is not possible then it would mean that the consciousness of humans is separate from the physical properties of the brain. Cyborgs blend this line of distinction.

The aesthetic philosopher and artist Paul Ziff defines machines as incapable of having feelings or  consciousness in his essay “The Feelings of Robots”. He poses the question of whether we can attribute feelings to a machine and in so blurring the line between a man and a machine.  We base our perception of a person’s behavior not only on what evidence is present then and there but as well what has been seen elsewhere which would tie into what we see then and there. One cannot see what another knows. Suppose there is an actor performing the role of a grief-stricken man. One person knows he is acting and another does not. Then to that person who is unaware the man would seem to be truly grief-stricken. The other person knows that the man is only putting on a performance. Robots are performers and it would be incorrect to say that the robot is grief-stricken because it is only imitating the emotion. A robot would behave like a robot.

Paul Weiss, a nanoscientist and philospher,  expresses in his essay “Love in a Machine” what is needed to identify a consciousness in a machine. Weiss answers some basic questions in his writings stating these claims. Claim 1: “Behavior occurs in space and time”  this being the case it is true that the behavior of men can in principle be duplicated by machines. Claim 2: If machines could not behave in ways man could not then it would only show that man has more flexibility and wider range then a machine would, not that he has a private nature or mind that machines do not. Claim 3: If machines were to behave just as men do it would mean that machines could have minds that are recognize as minds of men. Claim 4: A person can only know others from the observable outside.

One cannot know whether or not another person has a mind. Therefore one cannot find a way of distinguishing men from the machines. Weiss is examining and explaining how people know themselves from the outside as well as from within. Since we can see how others behave then we can see that they have minds similar to our own. If there can be know observable distinguishing men from machines then it can be concluded that machines have minds as well. But to pose furthur questions and thinking, how do we explain the unseen relationship we have with our fellow humans? These unique bonds that connect humans beyond the physical realm, such as love.

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