Panpsychism and AI Consciousness

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Panpsychism and AI Consciousness

Marcus Arvan & Corey J. Maley

Quote:This article argues that if panpsychism is true, then there are grounds for thinking
that digitally-based artificial intelligence (AI) may be incapable of having coherent
macrophenomenal conscious experiences. Section 1 briefly surveys research indicating that
neural function and phenomenal consciousness may be both analog in nature. We show that
physical and phenomenal magnitudes—such as rates of neural firing and the phenomenally
experienced loudness of sounds—appear to covary monotonically with the physical stimuli
they represent, forming the basis for an analog relationship between the three. Section 2 then
argues that if this is true and micropsychism—the panpsychist view that phenomenal
consciousness or its precursors exist at a microphysical level of reality—is also true, then
human brains must somehow manipulate fundamental microphysical-phenomenal
magnitudes in an analog manner that renders them phenomenally coherent at a macro level.
However, Section 3 argues that because digital computation abstracts away from
microphysical-phenomenal magnitudes—representing cognitive functions non-monotonically
in terms of digits (such as ones and zeros)—digital computation may be inherently incapable
of realizing coherent macroconscious experience. Thus, if panpsychism is true, digital AI
may be incapable of achieving phenomenal coherence. Finally, Section 4 briefly examines
our argument’s implications for Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) theory of
consciousness, which we contend may need to be supplanted by a theory of
macroconsciousness as analog microphysical-phenomenal information integration.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2022-07-06, 10:21 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Panpsychism and AI Consciousness

Marcus Arvan & Corey J. Maley

"...Section 3 argues that because digital computation abstracts away from microphysical-phenomenal magnitudes—representing cognitive functions non-monotonically in terms of digits (such as ones and zeros)—digital computation may be inherently incapable of realizing coherent macroconscious experience."

Arvan and Maley go to great lengths to attempt to show by elaborate sophisticated arguments that digital AI can't generate consciousness, and imply that some sort of analog AI might be able to do it. 

It seems to me that these two authors have gone to a lot of unnecessary trouble, and still come up with an invalid conclusion (that analog computers may eventually be able to generate consciousness). 

These authors ignore the fact that neither form of AI can fundamentally, in principle, generate consciousness, because of the Hard Problem. Computers' activities consist solely of executing algorithms to process data, whether the computation is by shifting and logically processing digital bits, or by manipulating and using analog parameters of electronic circuits and devices in a continuous manner. These computers are still fundamentally physically representing cognitive functions and processing this data using algorithms.

But we know that the qualia of consciousness, and other properties of mind and awareness, are non-algorithmic and therefore non-computable by any form of computer AI. How is it that these authors don't realize that? Some sort of AI "representing cognitive functions" either by manipulating digital 1's and 0's or by utilizing continuously varying analog parameters and their functional relationships can't break the Hard Problem and bridge the vast chasm between things, and inner subjective experience, awareness and thought. "Analog microphysical-phenomenal information integration" is still fundamentally data processing and is worlds removed from subjective awareness and consciousness.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-07, 01:07 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 4 times in total.)
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(2022-07-07, 12:58 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: "...Section 3 argues that because digital computation abstracts away from microphysical-phenomenal magnitudes—representing cognitive functions non-monotonically in terms of digits (such as ones and zeros)—digital computation may be inherently incapable of realizing coherent macroconscious experience."

Arvan and Maley go to great lengths to attempt to show by elaborate sophisticated arguments that digital AI can't generate consciousness, and imply that some sort of analog AI might be able to do it. 

It seems to me that these two authors have gone to a lot of unnecessary trouble, and still come up with an invalid conclusion (that analog computers may eventually be able to generate consciousness). 

These authors ignore the fact that neither form of AI can fundamentally, in principle, generate consciousness, because of the Hard Problem. Computers' activities consist solely of executing algorithms to process data, whether the computation is by shifting and logically processing digital bits, or by manipulating and using analog parameters of electronic circuits and devices in a continuous manner. These computers are still fundamentally physically representing cognitive functions and processing this data using algorithms.

But we know that the qualia of consciousness, and other properties of mind and awareness, are non-algorithmic and therefore non-computable by any form of computer AI. How is it that these authors don't realize that? Some sort of AI "representing cognitive functions" either by manipulating digital 1's and 0's or by utilizing continuously varying analog parameters and their functional relationships can't break the Hard Problem and bridge the vast chasm between things, and inner subjective experience, awareness and thought. "Analog microphysical-phenomenal information integration" is still fundamentally data processing and is worlds removed from subjective awareness and consciousness.

The Hard Problem is just about subjectivity? They aren't saying the AI generates consciousness on its own, but rather structures have some connection to a consciousness.

I agree with you, as I don't see how consciousness can be pieced together from smaller pieces given its irreducibility but I think if panpsychism is correct then it seems reasonable that computers couldn't be conscious if our brains are made conscious in a similar way.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-07-07, 03:40 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
I agree that the digital versus analogue computation is merely a distraction, rather than progress. Maybe it's just a rerun of the digital audio versus vinyl valve/tube audio debate.

Aside from the important topics of qualia and awareness, the technical problem seems to be at the interface between matter and consciousness. Has anyone proposed using quantum computing as an alternative approach?
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