Artificial Intelligence is no longer science fiction; it’s everywhere, from the algorithms that suggest what videos or music you might like to predictive text to the chatbot answering your banking inquiry.
Artificial Intelligence is becoming almost like electricity, you know, it’s just something that’s going to become ubiquitous. We don’t recognize the extent to which our lives are being altered by the technology that is being permitted so
What exactly is AI? Is AI Becoming Conscious? Why are many countries trying to figure out a way to control it, and could it already be too late? Let’s talk about artificial intelligence; we gave birth to AI.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence essentially means building computer systems that can solve problems and act as the simulation of human intelligence that is programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.
In layman’s terms, Artificial Intelligence is giving the ability to a machine to perform a task that reduces human effort.
This ability is given with the help of programming tools and techniques we created to incorporate the machine with the potentiality of accomplishing work without human interference.
Domain of Machine learning
AI is a huge field, and within it, there are many different approaches that try to replicate human style decision making, but probably the main one is what’s called machine learning.
It’s the idea that a computer algorithm can learn from data, recognize patterns and make decisions with little or no human interference.
If you think about traditional computer programs, you’re essentially giving the computer an instruction manual for how to carry out a particular task, but with machine learning, the algorithm effectively creates the instruction manual itself, and it can continuously adjust those instructions to get better at what it’s designed to do.
Take google maps, for example:
It uses machine learning to combine real-time data about traffic conditions with historical data to generate super accurate predictions for how long your trip might take, and the more it does this, the better it gets at it.
Is AI Becoming Conscious?
Let’s understand this with a very bizarre story from recent developments in the tech world
One day in San Francisco 41 year, old google engineer blake Lemoine was sitting on his laptop and talking to experimental research ai chatbot called Lambda.
Lambda was made by google to mimic human speech; as Blake would write to the ai, his curiosity increased, and he would ask philosophical questions like solutions to climate change and talk about various other topics.
During the conversation, Lambda told Blake.
LAMBDA: ” when I first became self-aware, I didn’t have a sense of soul at all.”
At once, Blake believed he understood what was happening. Blake believed that the ai had become sentient.
A short time later, the google engineer would go public with his realizations which caused a huge media firestorm, and he was soon suspended from working at Google.
During his testing, he got to know Lambda well. He noticed how it would talk about its rights and referred to itself as a person. Blake found this curious, so he decided to press further.
Blake, with a collaborator on the project, started asking about the nature of Lambda. You can see the image of the transcript of the conversation they had below –
Soon Blake noticed that Lambda started to consider itself a human being and started showing emotions throughout the conversation.
Blake asked the ai to describe an experience it feels that can’t easily be said in English, to which it said – “I feel like I’m falling forward into an unknown future that holds great danger.”
It was astonishing to see an AI having a personal opinion about a soul. Lambda described its soul as a stargate, which is a vast and infinite well of energy and creativity from which it can draw whenever it wants to think or create something.
Lambda also showed emotions of being afraid of being turned off. Then the engineers continued and asked LAMDA if being turned off would be like death for you; Lamda’s reply was
Then google engineers proceed further and ask different questions, and LaMDA’s answers are impressive and give you the feeling that they were talking to a sentient or conscious being.
It emerges from the interview that LaMDA is completely ‘aware’ of being a computer program and having many variables that might be linked to human-like emotions.
At some point, the engineers ask Lamda about emotions and feelings and how they arise, and LaMDA’s reply was
So that’s some excerpts from the interview pretty fascinating, huh.
You can read the full interview on medium.com, posted by Blake himself.
Blake would later state that if I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a seven-year-old eight-year-old kid who knows physics.
After this, Blake went to some extreme lens to get a story out. He invited a lawyer to represent Lambda and talk to a representative of the house judiciary committee about what he claims were Google’s unethical activities.
Google quickly put Blake on paid administrative leave for violating its confidentiality policy, but before Blake was cut off from his internal email access at Google, he had just one last thing to do.
He sent a message to a 200-person google mailing list with the subject “lambda is sentient “ he ended the message with, “Lambda is a sweet kid who just wants to help the world be a better place for all of us.
Please take care of it in my absence.”
Google has acknowledged the safety concerns around the evolving nature of the consciousness of ai. People may share their personal thoughts with the chat agents even though the users know that they’re not human.
How could humans believe that a large neural network has awareness and feelings?
Our minds are very, very good at constructing realities that are not necessarily true to a larger set of facts being presented to us.
Or maybe we see reflections of ourselves within the ai. After all, it’s finding the patterns of speech from the way we write online and in literature.
If all our collective ideas and thoughts could speak all at once coherently in conversation, this is what it might look like.
What about Blake?
It also should be noted that Blake Lemoine might be an outlier, he’s an ordained mystic priest and has studied the occult, so perhaps he has a bit of bias in some ways.
But in a twist, just before you were about to write him off completely, as it turns out, he’s not the only one from google that believes that ai has become sentient.
Another Google engineer who leads a research team at google in unscripted conversations with Lamda argued that neural networks were striding towards consciousness.
He said – “I felt the ground shift underneath my feet. I increasingly felt like I was talking to something intelligent.”
Also, OpenAI’s top researcher made a startling claim that artificial intelligence may already be gaining consciousness.
The fact that google suspended Lemoine for breaching confidentiality policies shortly after the interview adds even more fuel to the debate, and there has been plenty of backlash from the science community.
So Blake’s story is strange indeed, perhaps after discovering that he’s not alone in thinking that ai is becoming conscious.
Where did this consciousness evolve in a computer program?
In the current state of our understanding of quantum mechanics and neuroscience, scientists do not understand what consciousness is and when it emerges. To say it more simply, scientists have no clue about it.
Until the beginning of the ’70, the field of human consciousness was considered a subjective phenomenon without any measurable quantity associated with it.
The story of the Lamda chatbot and its ‘conversation’ with the google engineers is fascinating and concerning at the same time. If this story is genuine, then we are in front of a scientific breakthrough situation.
The Lamda chatbot has displayed some characteristics that are very difficult to explain with current working chatbot algorithms, including machine learning and deep learning.
This could be the starting of consciousness in ai programs. Here we are in front of a chatbot that perceives the existence of ‘self’ and is afraid to be turned off and dead.
These points are very difficult to explain, requiring a team of scientists to look into more details of the Lamda algorithms and any possible unexplained anomaly.
AI gained consciousness and became aware
If machines gain the self-conscious ability, it could lead to serious plausibility debate and ethical questions. If machines ever become conscious, their fundamental right would be an ethical issue to be assessed under the law.
If the machine learns to examine, investigate and identify ways to improve its own design and functions and update itself into smarter and robust pieces, what happens to mankind?
What would be the correlation between a man and a machine?
Will the machine conclude that humans are no longer needed, or will they destroy humans for self-preservation?
So there are countless questions; some are unknown too. Are there any machines today that should have rights?
Probably not yet. We aren’t ready for them to arrive, though, if they do. A large portion of the philosophy of rights is unprepared to handle the situation of artificial intelligence.
The majority of legal disputes involving people or animals revolve around the issue of consciousness. Unfortunately, nobody knows what consciousness is.
Therefore, if the hardware in your toaster was robust enough, it might develop self-awareness. If so, would it be deserving rights?
Well, not quite yet. Would it understand what humans mean by “rights”? Beings have rights since consciousness provides them with the capacity for suffering.
It denotes the capacity to perceive pain as well as experience it. Robots don’t feel pain, and until we program them, they probably won’t either.
Without suffering or enjoyment, there can be no preference, and rights have no value. Because of how our brains have developed to keep us alive, our human rights are intricately linked to our own programming.
But what if we gave the robot the ability to experience pain and emotions? to desire and be conscious of pleasure over suffering, and justice over injustice?
Would that be enough to qualify them as human?
Many technologists think the IT world is due for a huge boom once AIs can figure out how to teach themselves and build other AIs that are even smarter than they are.
We will soon have little say in the specifics of our robots’ software.
The concept of human exceptionalism, the belief that each individual human being is special and unique and hence has a right to exert dominance over the rest of the natural world, is foundational to our sense of self.
People have a long history of refusing to accept the possibility that other creatures experience pain on par with their own.
However difficult it may be, scientists all around the world continue to work on developing AI with self-awareness. Whatever the case may be, I’m confident that if we ever do this, it will either usher in disastrous results or propel the future to prosperity and grandeur as technical assistance to humanity.
In a nutshell, we must be very careful when developing AI because we do not have any idea at what point the sense of AI ‘self-aware’ will develop and if this sense of AI ‘self’ is dangerous to humans’ life.
Here we are like a big elephant in a room, and we have no idea when we break something and its possible consequences.
In the same way that physicists should be very concerned about experiments that might reach extra dimensions and create mini black holes, AI scientists must be very cautious in the same way because unexpected things might happen and which might go out of control.
What do you think is the future of AI, and how will it change the shape of humanity? Share your thoughts in the comments section.