July 11, 2019

The C-word — Consciousness

“We used to refer to consciousness as ‘the C-word’ in robotics and AI circles, because we’re not allowed to touch that topic,” he said. “It’s too fluffy, nobody knows what it means, and we’re serious people so we’re not going to do that. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s almost one of the big unanswered questions, on par with origin of life and origin of the universe. What is sentience, creativity? What are emotions? We want to understand what it means to be human, but we also want to understand what it takes to create these things artificially. It’s time to address these questions head-on and not be shy about it.”

I couldn’t agree more. Consciousness is a mystery so large to resolve that most intellectuals turn a blind eye to it pretending it is inconsequential.

Well, it is not, it is at the core of understanding what makes a human a human. And it will be at the core of understanding what makes a robot “alive”.

We protect many rights in humans (and a few in animals), because we believe we are alive and able to experience pain.

If we don’t define consciousness we might deny the existence of other forms of intelligence, because we are too narrow minded to recognize the. As of now consciousness is very much identified as “that thing I experience subjectively myself.” Terrible way of describing a phenomena that’s essential to our understanding of the world around us. And honestly a keystone of the scientific method (so believed to be based on objectivity).

But we also deny us the deeper knowledge of our human potential. We are tapping into a source of magical knowledge. We all have one in our brains, we carry and use one daily, but we are oblivious as to how it works, and we discourage scientist from asking questions about consciousness because it has become a taboo. So much so that some call it the C-word.

July 11, 2019


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