In a normal, adult human being, these things come bundled together. But in a more exotic entity they might be disaggregated. In most non-human animals we find awareness of the world without self-awareness, and the capacity for suffering without the capacity for empathy. A human-level AI might display awareness of the world and self-awareness without the capacity for emotion or empathy. If such entities became familiar, our language would change to accommodate them. Monolithic concepts such as consciousness might break apart, leading to new ways of talking about the behaviour of AIs.
More radically, we might discover whole new categories of behaviour or cognition that are loosely associated with our old conception of consciousness. In short, while we might retain bits of today’s language to describe highly exotic entities with complex behaviour, other relevant parts of our language might be reshaped, augmented or supplanted by wholly new ways of talking, a process that would be informed by computer science, by comparative cognition, by behavioural psychology and by the natural evolution of ordinary language. Under these conditions, something like ‘capacity for consciousness’ might be usefully retained as a summary statistic for those entities whose behaviour eludes explanation in today’s terms but could be accommodated by a novel conceptual framework wherein the notion of consciousness now familiar to us, though fragmented and refracted, remains discernible.
What are the implications of this possibility for the H-C plane? Figure 2 above indicates a point on the H-C plane with the same value as a human on the C-axis, but which is exotic enough to lie on the H-axis at the limit of applicability of any form of consciousness. Here we find entities, both extraterrestrial and artificial, that possess human-level intelligence but whose behaviour bears little resemblance to human behaviour.
Nevertheless, given sufficiently rich interaction with and/or observation of these entities, we would come to see them as fellow conscious beings, albeit having modified our language to accommodate their eccentricities. One such entity, the exotic conscious AGI, has a counterpart at the left-hand end of the H-C plane, namely the exotic zombie AGI. This is a human-level AI whose behaviour is similarly non-human-like, but that we are unable to see as conscious however much we interact with it or observe it. These two data points – the exotic, conscious, human-level intelligence and the exotic, zombie, human-level intelligence – define the bottom two corners of a square whose other corners are humans themselves at the top right, and human-like zombies at the top left. This square illustrates the inextricable, three-way relationship between human-level intelligence, human-likeness, and consciousness.
We can now identify a number of overlapping regions within our embryonic space of possible minds. These are depicted in Figure 3 below. On the (debatable) assumption that, if an entity is conscious at all, its capacity for consciousness will correlate with its cognitive prowess, human-level intelligence features in the two, parallel purple regions, one to the far left of the diagram and one at human level on the C-axis. The exotic, conscious AGI resides at the bottom of the latter region, and also at the left-hand end of the orange region of conscious exotica. This region stretches to the right of the C-axis, beyond the human level, because it encompasses exotic beings, which could be extraterrestrial or artificial or both, with superhuman intelligence and a superhuman capacity for consciousness. Our ‘mind children’ are less exotic forms of possible superintelligent, superconscious creatures. But the conscious exotica here are, perhaps, the most interesting beings in the space of possible minds, since they reside at the limit of what we would welcome into the fellowship of consciousness, yet sit on a boundary beyond which everything complex is inscrutably strange.
- From algorithms to aliens, could humans ever understand minds that are radically unlike our own? , I think, this changed my view on Deep Learning. Just because we don't understand (yet or never) fully doesn't make it less powerful and useful. We are scared of not understanding the outputs but again that doesn't make it wrong and scary.