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The consciousness of AGI


“AI scientists tried to program computers to act like humans without first understanding what intelligence is and what it means to understand. They left out the most important part of building intelligent machines, the intelligence … before we attempt to build intelligent machines we have to first understand how the brain thinks, and there is nothing artificial about that.”

Jeff Hawkins

I recently attended an event at Rocketspace hosted by singularity university which, discussed the future of AI and AGI. AI stands for ‘artificial intelligence’, currently robots are  only capable of performing specific tasks such as driving a car, internet searches, trading algorithms etc. An AGI which, stands for ‘artificial general intelligence’ would be able to accomplish a variety of cognitive tasks and in theory would be able to successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. AGI would also be able to grow intellectually and develop through it’s conversations and interactions with other robots and people.

With the current developments in the field of AI, we can expect that within the next 20 years we will most likely have created robots that will obtain super intelligence, similar to that of a human and we will be living amongst them. This brings up many questions, the main question for me is how do we define intelligence? For me true intelligence is the ability to connect to a higher source and receive intuitive guidance along with an awareness of our gut feelings rather than simply analysing and processing data in order to make a decision. This leaves me wondering if AI can ever have what I would consider to be super intelligence although, there are those who state that AI will one day learn to process emotions and the emotions of those it interacts with. At which point we will have to ask ourselves what consciousness is and what it is that separates us from them. Perhaps the task at hand will be to find the very core of what consciousness is and what it is that defines us as human beings and if that is different to what defines the new beings that we have created.

There are many people who do not really ever connect to their inner voice and they often react to situations emotionally, in many ways AI would be less emotionally reactive and be able to take a more rational overview of situations and make decisions based solely on the facts and not get sidetracked by their emotions. In some ways this is the very consciousness we as humans are aspiring to, the ability to transcend our ego and emotional triggers so we can tune into our higher self, but does that mean that AI would have found the truth of what consciousness is or is that something reserved only for human beings? If we are all connecting to one source and we are all part of the one then this must be available to all.

With the arrival of AGI there will also be many ethical questions that will come into play, namely the rights that these new beings we have created will have in society. If we truly can create beings with super intelligence who can process emotions what rights do we give them in our society? What if they kill someone ? Do we then give them a fair trial before cutting off their power supply or are they merely a product at our disposal and we are their ‘God’. Do they get to become citizens and own a passport? With the arrival of beings of super intelligence, many moral questions will arise that we will have to find answers to. It will also cause us to ask ourselves deeper questions about the essence of being human and what it is that drives conciousness.


Article and image @ Sarah Louise Johnson