Home > Uncategorized > Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics and News, 13 Feb

Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics and News, 13 Feb

We have spent considerable bandwidth defining meaning for the purpose of understanding what an artificially conscious agent might generate for the meaning of a stimulus that could complement current approaches to making intelligent machine based agents.  Those discussions lead us back to (as well as the off-cycle discussions with the QuEST research students at AFIT and discussions between Capt Amerika and Andres R.) a discussion on what is consciousness and how will we know if a machine (or for that matter if a particular critter) is conscious.  We have mentioned our think piece on ‘What Alan Turing meant to say’ for example.  To address this question in a different way I propose we return to some previously discussed topics/articles.

First there is the IEEE Spectrum article from June 2008 by Koch / Tononi ‘Can machines be Conscious? Yes – and a new Turing Test might prove it’.  In that article the authors conclude:

  • Consciousness is part of the natural world. It depends, we believe, only on mathematics and logic and on the imperfectly known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology; it does not arise from some magical or otherworldly quality.
  • That’s good news, because it means there’s no reason why consciousness can’t be reproduced in a machine—in theory, anyway.

They start by explaining what they believe consciousness does NOT require:

  • Remarkably, consciousness does not seem to require many of the things we associate most deeply with being human: emotions, memory, self-reflection, language, sensing the world, and acting in it.

We want to discuss these points.  They then adopt the approach championed by one of them Tononi:

  • To be conscious, then, you need to be a single integrated entity with a large repertoire of states.
  • Let’s take this one step further: your level of consciousness has to do with how much integrated information you can generate.
  • That’s why you have a higher level of consciousness than a tree frog or a supercomputer.

Whether we adopt the Tononi formalism or not I like the idea of the amount of integrated information being related to the level of consciousness.  That resonates with many of our ideas.  In my mind I map ‘integrated’ to situated.  So the more of the contributing processes we can situate the more exformation can be generated and thus the more power such a representation can bring to deliberation.

They then go on to define a revised Turing Test:

  • One test would be to ask the machine to describe a scene in a way that efficiently differentiates the scene’s key features from the immense range of other possible scenes.

–     Humans are fantastically good at this: presented with a photo, a painting, or a frame from a movie, a normal adult can describe what’s going on, no matter how bizarre or novel the image is.

One of the reasons I want to review this position is because of the:

recent work of Karpathy at Stanford on describing image content and work at Google by Oriol Vinyals these are covered in this week’s QuEST news stories

news summary (12)

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