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What Westworld Can Teach Us About Machine Consciousness

By November 6, 2017 No Comments

machine consciousnessTo what extent does artificial intelligence replicate human intelligence?

Many authors of fiction have envisioned dystopian worlds wrought with the anguish caused by the uprising of AI machines. The collapse of man by his own hands. However, these narratives rely on a fantastical element that has yet to find a basis in reality: machine consciousness.

The collapse of man by his own hands. However, these narratives rely on a fantastical element that has yet to find a basis in reality: machine consciousness.

However, these narratives rely on a fantastical element that has yet to find a basis in reality: machine consciousness.

Still, the thought gives pause for concern.

HBO’s new series, Westworld, is a retelling of the 1973 science-fiction film of the same name, directed by Michael Crichton. The series explores the development of an artificial, bicameral mind in the context of a Western-themed amusement park. It brings to question: can AI achieve its own form of machine consciousness akin to the bicameral mind?

It brings to question: can AI achieve its own form of machine consciousness akin to the bicameral mind?

Let’s expand the topics.

Machine Consciousness And The Bicameral Mind

In 1977, psychologist Julian Jaynes published the theory that consciousness developed through language.

Prior, humans existed in a ‘bicameral mind’ state: one part of the brain conjured directives, and the other enacted them. A primitive state that expanded as human communication grew and personality began to take form.

At the moment, humans exist to AI robots as the directive-half of their artificial minds. We give them a command, they follow through.

The advancement of technology has allowed humans to program these machines to carry out vast and complex operations.

Automation – A New Frontier

Some AI programs are so involved they’ve surpassed human capabilities in the same field.

This has and continues to significantly improve our means of production and service. Analysts expect that by 2030 some 40-50% of jobs in the U.S. will be replaced by robots.

Economically, it makes sense. It’s cheaper and more efficient. We have discussed in a previous post how our own Sally has drastically improved email correspondence in the office space. Other industries and markets are following suit.

AI-led automation is a natural progression in business.

The Future of Machine Consciousness

With our expertise at crafting robots so adept at performing tasks, do humans possess the ability to craft life?

Westworld has its own narrative to that question, but for the sake of spoilers, we’ll stick to what’s current in reality.

The answer: no.

To paraphrase from Plato’s A Theory of Forms, humans can come only so close to replicating the truth. The consciousness we experience as humans is an ideal that cannot be transferred over and give life to machine consciousness.

But we can replicate it.

That’s the present stage that we’re at in our advancement of AI technology.

Companies are amassing immense quantities of data to define and refine something near to a machine consciousness. To label and name every emotion and feeling we experience so that robots might reflect some semblance of sympathy.

Worry not, though. While AI can perform intensive tasks and operations, we’re a long way from a machine consciousness uprising.

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While it’s fun to consider the intricacies of AI that a series like Westworld presents, it’s prudent to remain present in reality. With our AI service, scheduling meetings and email conferencing is a breeze. Take a look and Meet Sally today!

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