• TheMadFool
    2.3k
    What distinugishes a human from a computer?

    Not logical thinking. Computers are logic machines.

    Not creativity. Creativity is randomness and can be replicated.

    The only thing left is self-awareness - the observer realizes her own existence and role as an observer of both the self and the world outside.

    But...we're not completely self-aware. We don't know what's happening in our brains or liver or our skin and so on. It's like consciousness or self-awareness is limited to the organism as a whole but not its parts. Therefore, we are NOT fully self-aware.

    Now imagine a being x who is completely self-aware in every respect from the atomic realm to the macroscopic world we're familiar with. Such a being is what I call truly self-aware.

    What about computers? They seem to be able to do logic flawlessly. However, they don't display any evidence of self-awareness like us humans. Aritificial intelligence attempts to replicate human-level self-awareness. I don't know if that's even possible but what I want to present is a comparative analysis of

    1. computers
    2. humans
    3. being x I described above.

    Let's put these on a line that represents the spectrum of self-awareness from completely oblivious (like a stone) and completely aware (like being x).

    Would we be closer to the computer or being x?
  • tom
    1.5k
    1. computers
    2. humans
    3. being x I described above.

    Let's put these on a line that represents the spectrum of self-awareness from completely oblivious (like a stone) and completely aware (like being x).

    Would we be closer to the computer or being x?
    TheMadFool

    What makes you think a computer could ever be aware? Only software can do that.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    What makes you think a computer could ever be aware? Only software can do that.tom

    Software must need hardware right? Anyway I'm questioning the basic premise that humans are self-aware. I think that's not true, at least not to the extent of being x I described in my OP.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Software must need hardware right? Anyway I'm questioning the basic premise that humans are self-aware. I think that's not true, at least not to the extent of being x I described in my OP.TheMadFool

    Software and hardware are not the same thing. Your brain is hardware, your mind is software.
  • gloaming
    9
    "... Creativity is randomness and can be replicated..."

    ??? On the face of it, this is self-contradictory. Random is patternless, meaning it can never be precisely the same twice as an intended end.
  • Bitter Crank
    5.8k
    What distinugishes a human from a computer?TheMadFool

    Biology -- and the HUGE everything that biology implies.

    Computers are logic machinesTheMadFool

    Computers are contraptions that carry out logical operations designed by humans. On their own they are just a pile of metal and plastic.

    So we aren't full aware. So what?
  • aporiap
    66

    What about self-monitoring programs? Ones that can modify behavior or output when certain conditions are met -- e.g a robot that self corrects its walking trajectory when it is not going in proper direction? I think that involves some amount of self awareness
  • Arne
    295
    The deeper issue is why we continually seek some criterion for establishing a qualitative and normative ontological priority of human being.
  • Arne
    295
    And in distinguishing human from computer we grab onto things that are not uniquely human. For example, while it is true that I am flesh and blood and a computer is metal and plastic, the same can be said regarding my dog and a computer. Similarly, we also grasp on to and use terms referring to entities/ideas/processes as if the terms represented a complete understanding of that to which they refer. For example, sub-conscious is a term that refers to a process that we do not understand and may never understand. Yet how often do we think we have answered a question by reference to the "sub-conscious?" The same could be said of the Marxist term "false consciousness" when referring to behavior significantly inconsistent with the interest of one's economic class. There is simply no reason to believe that the term describes adequately, yet alone correctly, every incident of behavior to which it is applied. Claims to the contrary are a matter of faith. And are we not doing the same with the term "self aware." Because I am aware that I am aware of the redness of a car does not establish that such second order awareness is anything significant, unique to humans, understood in any meaningful way, or even useful. And most important of all within this context, most people treat the notion of self awareness as beyond the computer programming ability of beings who are in fact aware that they are aware. And if and when they do succeed in programming awareness of awareness, will we then distinguish the human from computer by talking about being aware of being aware that we are aware? If second order awareness such as self awareness is being aware of awareness, then wouldn't third order awareness simply be awareness of self awareness?
  • TogetherTurtle
    41
    This has been one of my points of interest for a long time. Let me put my cards on the table.

    Self awareness is hard to define. It is easiest to describe it as "what we have and the beasts do not" so yes, by definition, we have self awareness.

    We could also break down the word. It is awareness of the self. I am aware that I exist, what about you? A dog is not aware that it exists. It is just the culmination of biological processes and chemical reactions. It can feel, but not ask why it feels. While we are made of the same material as them, we have self awareness because we are evolved enough to have such a thing.

    What you described as "self awareness" is more of the level of awareness a god would posses. I suppose we could label this "deity awareness"

    Computers (software, at least) is definitely capable of that, eventually. We simply don't have the hardware to support them, the knowledge to create them, or the energy to maintain them. That can change soon.

    I assume you have heard of the turing test. If not, essentially it is a test where you are put in a room with a monitor and a keyboard. In one window on the monitor, you are talking to a human, and on another window, you are speaking to a computer. If you can't tell the difference, the computer passes the test and has "self awareness". You may ask, how can this be? They have just learned to mimic human interactions incredibly well! And I may interject, how is that any different from how you or I interact with people? You had to learn how to interact with people from a young age. Self awareness is not some tangible end goal, it is something that evolves over time until you finally comprehend your world.

    One could say babies are not self aware. They haven't developed object permanence, they can not speak, cannot write. However, you consider the baby more human than the computer on your desk that can do all of the above?

    To be human (or self aware) is not biological, in fact, you don't even have to be biological to be a human. You just have to be very good at seeming like a human. Consciousness is an illusion, but a very very good one. This is why most people would consider Superman a human, even though he is in fact extraterrestrial.
  • raza
    144
    You seem to assume you are aware of a stone while that stone is not aware of you.

    However you can only be aware of what you are aware of. You cannot be aware of what the stone is aware of or not aware of.

    You even think, it appears, that you are aware of you.

    However, you (or what arises as a thought of you) is merely what arises in what we define as "awareness".

    The stone also arises within this same awareness as the thought "me". The "me" which comes into contact with the stone.

    "me", however (as with "you") is merely an arising thought. A thought which arises in awareness.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    Software and hardware are not the same thing. Your brain is hardware, your mind is software.tom

    All I'm saying is that consciousness or self-awareness isn't a deserving attribute of humans. We're NOT completely self-aware.

    So we aren't full aware. So what?Bitter Crank

    So, are we more like computers or are we very near to, in terms of awareness, to an entity that is completely self-aware?

    I ask because if we're more like computers then it changes the whole idea of what it means to be human. We're more like machines than what would lie at the opposite end - total self-awareness.

    ??? On the face of it, this is self-contradictory. Random is patternless, meaning it can never be precisely the same twice as an intended end.gloaming

    Take a look at how we really think. Personally, I have many random thoughts going on in my mind. Not totally random I agree. I guess these thoughts arise out of association e.g. when I think of rain I think of umbrella, etc. But then I get to choose which thoughts I think upon and that is random most of the time unless you're thinking of some goal to achieve. That's what I mean.

    What about self-monitoring programs? Ones that can modify behavior or output when certain conditions are met -- e.g a robot that self corrects its walking trajectory when it is not going in proper direction? I think that involves some amount of self awarenessaporiap

    Yes. That can be correctly classified as some level of self-awareness. This leads me to believe that most of what we do - walking, talking, thinking - can be replicated in machines (much like wormw or insects). The most difficult part is, I guess, imparting sentience to a machine. How does the brain do that? Of course, that's assuming it's better to have consciousness than not. This is still controversial in my opinion. Self-awareness isn't a necessity for life and I'm not sure if the converse is true or not.

    And if and when they do succeed in programming awareness of awareness, will we then distinguish the human from computer by talking about being aware of being aware that we are aware? If second order awareness such as self awareness is being aware of awareness, then wouldn't third order awareness simply be awareness of self awareness?Arne

    This logic fails I think. It doesn't make sense to say ''I'm aware that I'm aware that I'm aware...'' After some iterations we can't grasp the meaning of such statements. Anyway, the base of any such ordered awareness begins at ''I am self-aware''. We can try and achieve that first for computers.

    What I'm really interested in is to show that we're more like machines than we think. We can imagine an entity x who possesses complete self-awareness of its being from the atomic to the macroscopic and humans don't possess that level of consciousness do we?

    To be human (or self aware) is not biological, in fact, you don't even have to be biological to be a human. You just have to be very good at seeming like a human. Consciousness is an illusion, but a very very good one. This is why most people would consider Superman a human, even though he is in fact extraterrestrial.TogetherTurtle

    Consciousness is an illusion you say but what is that which experiences this illusion?
  • Arne
    295
    Self awareness is hard to define. It is easiest to describe it as "what we have and the beasts do not" so yes, by definition, we have self awareness.TogetherTurtle

    It rests upon the unstated presumption that you have something beasts do not. If all H's (Humans) have A's and only A's and all B's (Beasts) have A's and only A's, then the statement that SA = that which H's have but B's do not produces a null set. And even if you could establish some sort of qualitative and/or quantitative difference between the awareness Humans have and the awareness Beasts have, that difference would not necessarily be a difference in a degree of awareness regarding awareness, i.e., self-awareness. Couldn't such a difference simply be a difference in awareness of how or how much? For example, if all Humans were aware to some degree as the result of having visual sense of entities while all Beasts were aware to some degree as the result of having a sonic sense of entities, then under your formula the difference between visually sensing entities would be an awareness the Humans have and that the Beasts do not and would therefore be, under your formulation, self-awareness.

    Seriously, I share your interest in the subject matter. But I maintain the deeper issue is why some seem so insistent upon reserving to or creating for human (and only human?) some sort of unique normative ontological priority. This apparent need to preserve, reserve, and/or create a significant normative specialness for human is quite fascinating.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Seriously, I share your interest in the subject matter. But I maintain the deeper issue is why some seem so insistent upon reserving to or creating for human (and only human?) some sort of unique normative ontological priority. This apparent need to preserve, reserve, and/or create a significant normative specialness for human is quite fascinating.Arne

    If animals possess qualia - i.e. they can create "what-it-is-like" knowledge, then what is to stop them from creating, as humans do, any kind of knowledge?

    Humans are quite unique. We are the only known objects in the universe that create explanatory knowledge. In order to achieve this remarkable feat, there are strong arguments to the effect that we require at least two features: computationally universal hardware, and software that is not genetically determined. There is absolutely no evidence that animals possess either of these.

    Animals have been on the planet a lot longer than humans, and you none of them has developed a language, literature, culture or science. You may be fascinated that certain philosophers think this sets humans apart from other animals, but are you also fascinated that we don't ascribe morality to animals and put them on trial for their misdemeanors? Surely we have to prosecute them to escape the charge of "significant normative specialness"?
  • tom
    1.5k
    All I'm saying is that consciousness or self-awareness isn't a deserving attribute of humans. We're NOT completely self-aware.TheMadFool

    What does it mean to be "completely self aware" as opposed to just self aware?
  • tom
    1.5k
    You seem to assume you are aware of a stone while that stone is not aware of you.raza

    It's not an assumption, it is a consequence of known physics. Stones are not and cannot be self aware, or even aware.
  • raza
    144
    It's not an assumption, it is a consequence of known physics. Stones are not and cannot be self aware, or even aware.tom
    You make a distinction between aware and self-aware.

    At what point is one "aware" without some sense of self?

    What I am getting at is there not just general moment to moment experience which may as well be called "awareness"?

    After all we cannot be aware of anything other than what is our immediate experience - the very same experience within which our self is assumed to arise with.

    So the so-called "self" cannot really be other than every other apparent object which arises as the experience. Sometimes this experience may consist of what is defined as a stone.

    During your experience of a stone the stone must also be you. You can never be outside of your experience.

    So if you are "aware" then you as the experience is "aware", and the "experience" is every thing within that.

    You cannot exist outside of experience and you do not exist within experience.

    There is just Experience.

    Try having an experience where you are not. It is just not possible. So we should just be dealing with reality rather than what we think maybe real.

    Thinking there is a you that exists that then goes about having an experience (awareness) is merely some idea.

    To consider such an idea as real is essentially absurd.

    Awareness must be whatever arises. Sometimes this will be a stone. Consequently a stone is equally awareness.
  • raza
    144
    it is a consequence of known physicstom

    Where is one when conducting a physics experiment?

    One cannot be other than whatever the experience happens to be, in this case the physics experiment experience.
  • Arne
    295
    that we are unique is not the issue. I am quite confident that there are many species that are unique in their own way. The deeper issue is to behave as if our "uniqueness" justified a normative superiority vis-à-vis other species. You are obviously aware of the now decades old claim that "unlike humans, computers can't X" where X is continually replaced once the computer is then programmed to do X. They cannot do X (beat a grandmaster at chess), they cannot do X (display emotions), and now they cannot do X (display self-awareness). We somehow want to claim that the universe is a better place for all because humans and only humans can do X while the truth appears more likely to be that the universe is a better place only for humans because humans and only humans can do X. Do you not see the pattern here as well the desperation to perceive an indifferent universe as somehow better off because of our presence? What in the world is that all about?
  • tom
    1.5k
    The deeper issue is to behave as if our "uniqueness" justified a normative superiority vis-à-vis other species.Arne

    Other species don't possess qualia, so we are different. Animals don't possess computationally universal brains, so we are different.

    We somehow want to claim that the universe is a better place for all because humans and only humans can do XArne

    That is false and contrary to known physics.

    Do you not see the pattern here as well the desperation to perceive an indifferent universe as somehow better off because of our presence? What in the world is that all about?Arne

    There is no pattern except you making assumptions.

    Humans are the only objects in the universe known to create explanatory knowledge and possess qualia. You are assuming that I claimed humans were the only objects that could do these things, when I did not. It's a pattern.
  • gurugeorge
    330
    I think it's always useful as a grounding maneuver to think of the development of thought as something that was opened up by the possibility of lying.

    IOW, signalling of internal states (emotion) initially evolved as a co-ordination mechanism for social creatures, but at some point the neat trick of lying about internal states for some kind of advantage was discovered, and then the possibility of holding the falsehood (the counter-factual) and truth in mind at the same time, then we were off to the races.

    So it's not just self-awareness as such (a machine can self-monitor) but it's more to do with an interpersonal game (something Turing was aware of with the Turing test - i.e. detecting intelligence would be closely connected to detecting cheating).

    That's why I think that AI people, if they're really aiming at intelligence proper as we humans understand it, and not just at expert systems and machine learning systems, probably need to think more about intelligence as a function of sociality. Not "an AI" but a community of AIs. All the most intelligent animals (with the odd exception of the octopus) are social - corvids, parrots, wolves etc., humans.

    (Another way of saying this might be that intelligence probably requires a limbic system analogue - there has to be some sense of something at stake, something mattering, to the AI. But then at that point, there's the danger of losing the crisp cleanliness that we associate with computers, and getting into the murky, shifty complexity that is genuine intelligence, so it hardly seems worth it to try and create a genuine artificial intelligence.)
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