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consciousness


Hitting the Books: Do we really want our robots to have consciousness?

Engadget

From Star Trek's Data and 2001's HAL to Columbus Day's Skippy the Magnificent, pop culture is chock full of fully conscious AI who, in many cases, are more human than the humans they serve alongside. But is all that self-actualization really necessary for these synthetic life forms to carry out their essential duties? In his new book, How to Grow a Robot: Developing Human-Friendly, Social AI, author Mark H. Lee examines the social shortcomings of the today's AI and delves into the promises and potential pitfalls surrounding deep learning techniques, currently believed to be our most effective tool at building robots capable of doing more than a handful of specialized tasks. In the excerpt below, Lee argues that the robots of tomorrow don't necessarily need -- nor should they particularly seek out -- the feelings and experiences that make up the human condition. Although I argue for self-awareness, I do not believe that we need to worry about consciousness.


Summarising the keynotes at ICLR: part two

AIHub

The virtual International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) was held on 26-30 April and included eight keynote talks. Courtesy of the conference organisers you can watch the talks in full and see the question and answer sessions. The aim of Mihaela's research is to contribute to the transformation of healthcare by rigorous formulation and development of diverse new tools in machine learning and AI. Her group has worked on many problems in medicine and healthcare, including risk prognosis, modelling disease trajectories, adaptive clinical trials, individualised treatment, early-warning systems in hospitals, and personalised screening. They needed to develop a variety of machine learning methods to carry out this work.


Electrons May Very Well Be Conscious - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

This month, the cover of New Scientist ran the headline, "Is the Universe Conscious?" Mathematician and physicist Johannes Kleiner, at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy in Germany, told author Michael Brooks that a mathematically precise definition of consciousness could mean that the cosmos is suffused with subjective experience. "This could be the beginning of a scientific revolution," Kleiner said, referring to research he and others have been conducting. Kleiner and his colleagues are focused on the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, one of the more prominent theories of consciousness today. As Kleiner notes, IIT (as the theory is known) is thoroughly panpsychist because all integrated information has at least one bit of consciousness.


How A.I. 'hallucinations' helped make Westworld's main titles

#artificialintelligence

Do androids dream of electric sheep? Sure, if the sheep graze in the Westworld theme park. This season, the HBO show's main titles designer, Patrick Clair, recruited an A.I. expert, A.I. Fiction's Dr. Pinar Yanardag, to connect him with that dreaming android, in this case, with a generative adversarial network (GAN). Yanardag and her team had used neural networks for all sorts of purposes -- to create nightmares, horror, graffiti, music, fashion, perfume, cocktails, pizza, and even chocolate. "My mind was blown by the kinds of things she's doing, combining creativity with A.I.," Clair told SYFY WIRE, so he thought, why not let a neural network try television next?


Amazon Prime's em Upload /em Will Make You Think About Your Own Digital Afterlife

Slate

As we gather with family and friends in video spaces, with our virtual backgrounds and touched-up faces, our actual bodies are safely secreted away in our modern bunkers, waiting for the day we might return to the living. In this context, there is something uneasy in streaming the new Amazon Prime series Upload. Like other shows that have explored the intersections between technology and society, Upload questions what it means to be truly human--and, in particular, about the potential of some part of our selves living on in digital form. The plot follows some standard tropes, including a whodunit, a romance, and a character who does a lot of growing up after he has died. But beneath this, we are presented with set pieces that make strange the possibilities of our digital selves living rich lives after death, and that question what it means to live full lives in the meantime.


Do We Live in a Simulation?

#artificialintelligence

This is one of many questions that has plagued philosophers for thousands of years. In his 2003 paper Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, the Swedish philosopher, futurist, Oxford professor and Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and Governance of AI Program Nick Bostrom covers several topics that underlay the possibility that life as we experience may indeed be "fake news": Substrate-Independence -- Consciousness is not necessarily a property born of biology and could be formed from other materials or even energy. Technological Limits of Computation -- Given our current rate of progress in computational power, memory storage and AI, it may be only a matter of decades before true artificial consciousness is created, leading to the era of "posthumanity". Therefore, when it saw that a human was about to make an observation of the microscopic world, it could fill in sufficient detail in the simulation in the appropriate domain on an as‐needed basis. If there were a substantial chance that our civilization will ever get to the posthuman stage and run many ancestor‐simulations, then how come you are not living in such a simulation?


Global Big Data Conference

#artificialintelligence

The ultimate goal of most high-level AI research is the development of a general artificial intelligence (GAI). In essence, what we want is a synthetic mind that could function the same as a human were it placed into a physical vessel of similar capability. Most experts – not all – believe we're decades away from anything of the sort. Unlike other incredibly complex problems such as nuclear fusion or readjusting the Hubble Constant, nobody really understands yet what GAI actually looks like. Some researchers think Deep Learning is the path to machines that think like humans, others believe we'll need an entirely new calculus to create the necessary "master algorithm," and still others think GAI is probably impossible.


Guided by Plant Voices - Issue 84: Outbreak

Nautilus

Plants are intelligent beings with profound wisdom to impart--if only we know how to listen. And Monica Gagliano knows how to listen. The evolutionary ecologist has done groundbreaking experiments suggesting plants have the capacity to learn, remember, and make choices. Gagliano, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia, talks to plants. Plants summon her with instructions on how to live and work. Some of Gagliano's conversations happened in prophetic dreams, which led her to study with a shaman in Peru while tripping on psychoactive plants. Along with forest scientists like Suzanne Simard and Peter Wohlleben, Gagliano raises profound scientific and philosophical questions about the nature of intelligence and the possibility of "vegetal consciousness." But what's unusual about Gagliano is her willingness to talk about her experiences with shamans and traditional healers, along with her use of psychedelics. For someone who'd already received fierce pushback from other scientists, it was hardly a safe career move to reveal her personal experiences in otherworldly realms. Gagliano considers her explorations in non-Western ways of seeing the world to be part of her scientific work.


Is AI already conscious?

#artificialintelligence

The ultimate goal of most high-level AI research is the development of a general artificial intelligence (GAI). In essence, what we want is a synthetic mind that could function the same as a human were it placed into a physical vessel of similar capability. Most experts – not all – believe we're decades away from anything of the sort. Unlike other incredibly complex problems such as nuclear fusion or readjusting the Hubble Constant, nobody really understands yet what GAI actually looks like. Some researchers think Deep Learning is the path to machines that think like humans, others believe we'll need an entirely new calculus to create the necessary "master algorithm," and still others think GAI is probably impossible.


Amazon's 'Upload' explores the digital afterlife in a world gone to hell

Engadget

Take Black Mirror's dystopian tech commentary, The Good Place's philosophical exploration of the after-life, and the workplace antics of The Office, mash them together, and you have Amazon's Upload. It takes place in a world that could easily be 10 years from now -- self driving cars are commonplace, the Earth is polluted and over-crowded, and, oh yeah, you can also achieve digital immortality by uploading your consciousness to the cloud. Upload, which premieres today, is an entirely new territory for Greg Daniels, the genius writer behind The Office, and Parks and Rec (not to mention a long run on The Simpsons). But it's a world that's clearly been percolating in his mind for years. It's bold and raunchy in a way a network sitcom never could be, and it defies being classified into a single genre.