Philosopher Warns on AI: World without Consciousness


I watched this video last week at the Beneficial AI 2017 Conference as we were establishing the Asia AI Hub in South Korea. Its quite a long discussion with Elon Musk, Stuart Russell, Ray Kurzweil, Demis Hassabis, Sam Harris, Nick Bostrom, David Chalmers, Bart Selman, Jaan Tallinn and moderator Max Tegmark about ‘what likely outcomes might be if we succeed in building human-level AGI, and also what we would like to happen.’

David Chalmers, a world expert in consciousness, has been cited across the media for these warnings:

“For me, that raising the possibility of a massive failure mode in the future, the possibility that we create human or super human level AGI and we’ve got a whole world populated by super human level AGIs, none of whom is conscious. And that would be a world, could potentially be a world of great intelligence, no consciousness no subjective experience at all. Now, I think many many people, with a wide variety of views, take the view that basically subjective experience or consciousness is required in order to have any meaning or value in your life at all. So therefore, a world without consciousness could not possibly a positive outcome. maybe it wouldn’t be a terribly negative outcome, it would just be a 0 outcome, and among the worst possible outcomes.”

His solution to this is to create robots with human-like consciousness.

“I mean, one thing we ought to at least consider doing there is making, given that we don’t understand consciousness, we don’t have a complete theory of consciousness, maybe we can be most confident about consciousness when it’s similar to the case that we know about the best, namely human human consciousness… So, therefore maybe there is an imperative to create human-like AGI in order that we can be maximally confident that there is going to be consciousness,” Chalmers states at 23:51.

This might all sound horrifying – or lunacy – to some. Personally I am not convinced that this can be done. I don’t think scientists yet understand consciousness. But what this does do, is throw up is more discussion about what it is to be human. And I think that this will be one of the unintended consequences of AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is a great dialogue to have. Despite the doom and gloom about robots out there, there seems to be a global move emphasising creativity. This is natural with the end of the industrial age in my view.

The full video brings up some interesting points.


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