"“No one has a clue how to build a conscious machine, at all.” - Stuart Russell -
With recent advancements in AI technology, we can already see how it feels to interact with really smart AI tools. And the question of whether or not artificial intelligence can have consciousness has become a topic of debate. Many people believe that if an AI passes the Turing Test, which is a test designed to determine whether or not a machine can exhibit intelligent behavior that is indistinguishable from a human, it must be conscious. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Turing test - the indicator of consciouness?
While passing the Turing Test may indicate that an AI has the ability to exhibit intelligent behavior, it does not necessarily mean that the AI has consciousness. In fact, it is possible for an AI to pass the Turing Test without having any sort of conscious experience. It will be so good at pretending to be human that it will be hard to even notice the difference.
However consciousness is a complex and poorly understood phenomenon, and it is not clear what exactly it would mean for an AI to have consciousness. It is not even agreed upon if consciousness is simply the result of complex computations in the brain, or if it is something more fundamental and mysterious.
Regardless of what consciousness is, it is clear that an AI could pass the Turing Test without having it. This is because the Turing Test is not designed to test for consciousness, but rather to test for intelligent behavior. An AI could exhibit intelligent behavior without having any sort of conscious experience.
Furthermore, even if an AI were to develop consciousness, it would not experience things in the same way that humans do. AI consciousness would be fundamentally different from human consciousness, and it is unlikely that an AI would be able to understand or experience the same things that humans do.
In short, while it is possible for an AI to pass the Turing Test and exhibit intelligent behavior, it is unlikely that it will have consciousness or experience things in the same way that humans do in any foreseeable time. Despite the advances in AI technology, it is unlikely that AI will feel different to us, even if it passes the Turing Test.
We might get used to having it around, it might become more sophisticated and people born in the future will be surrounding by it and probably have a different approach, but it wont necessarily feel to us like having a pet or like interacting with other humans on deeper levels. However, humans have a natural tendency to anthropomorphise things, which means we as humans will be treating machines as sentient when it creates a good enough impression. We will see more and more of this effect, long before machines approach sentience.
Written by Stefan Huber with a sidenote from Kyle Hailey