preview

Artificial Sentience Essay

Good Essays
The use of computers has pervaded the life of every human being. At every street corner there are machines to be found that have been designed to simplify our lives and take over the mundane jobs that no longer require human intervention. One only needs to think of automated teller machines replacing bank tellers, vending machines phasing out street vendors, or near-infallible CCTV watching over us as policemen and sheriffs once did, to realise the extent that technology has enhanced and improved our existence. Given the speed and effectiveness with which computer technology has become a regular part of our lives, it is not surprising that there is much speculation about the future implications of these developments. One…show more content…
The question of consciousness
In order to determine whether it is possible to compute consciousness, it is first necessary to define consciousness. This in itself is something that scientists and philosophers have struggled with for ages.
For the purposes of this paper, the definition proposed by [Searle, 1998] will be used: Consciousness consists of inner, qualitative, subjective states and processes of sentience or awareness. Consciousness, so defined, begins when we wake in the morning from a dreamless sleep - and continues until we fall asleep again, die, go into a coma or otherwise become ”unconscious.”
The difficulty with this definition with regards to the Turing computability of consciousness is that it defines the existence of a subjective state as a prerequisite for consciousness. According to Searle’s
Chinese room argument [Searle, 1980], the fact that a system produces the same output as a conscious mind would in response to the same input does not prove the presence of subjective consciousness.
However, this same argument can be used in favour of solipsist views; it cannot be proven that anyone in this world is truly conscious merely by virtue of acting in ways that suggest consciousness. It is therefore a moot point. As [Turing, 1950] put it: [I]nstead of arguing continually over this point, it is usual to have a polite convention that everyone thinks. If the
Get Access