It’s not surprising that the profound weirdness of the quantum world has inspired some outlandish explanations – nor that these have strayed into the realm of what we might call mysticism.

One particularly pervasive notion is the idea that consciousness can directly influence quantum systems – and so influence reality.

PBS Space Time examines where this idea comes from, and whether quantum theory really supports it. 

Very often I am asked when (or whether) we will create a conscious AI.

I scratch my chin and ask “how would you define consciousness?”

The answer usually involves something about “self-awareness.”

I then point out that by that definition, your car is conscious as it has a “check engine light,” which is part of a self-diagnostic loop.

Usually, I point out that consciousness is a subjective phenomenon – it’s “I think, therefore I am” and not “You think, therefore you are.”

I am fascinated with noted physicist Michio Kaku’s explanation on why feedback loops create consciousness.

Dr. Michio Kaku is the co-founder of string field theory, and is one of the most widely recognized scientists in the world today. He has written 4 New York Times Best Sellers, is the science correspondent for CBS This Morning and has hosted numerous science specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery/Science Channel. His radio show broadcasts to 100 radio stations every week. Dr. Kaku holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York (CUNY), where he has taught for over 25 years. He has also been a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, as well as New York University (NYU).

Lex Fridman interviews David Chalmers in this thought provoking interview on consciousness.

David Chalmers is a philosopher and cognitive scientist specializing in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and consciousness. He is perhaps best known for formulating the hard problem of consciousness which could be stated as “why does the feeling which accompanies awareness of sensory information exist at all?” This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast.

OUTLINE:
0:00 – Introduction
2:23 – Nature of reality: Are we living in a simulation?
19:19 – Consciousness in virtual reality
27:46 – Music-color synesthesia
31:40 – What is consciousness?
51:25 – Consciousness and the meaning of life
57:33 – Philosophical zombies
1:01:38 – Creating the illusion of consciousness
1:07:03 – Conversation with a clone
1:11:35 – Free will
1:16:35 – Meta-problem of consciousness
1:18:40 – Is reality an illusion?
1:20:53 – Descartes’ evil demon
1:23:20 – Does AGI need conscioussness?
1:33:47 – Exciting future
1:35:32 – Immortality

Big Think has a fascinating interview with Dr. Michio Kaku.

Dr. Michio Kaku is the co-founder of string field theory, and is one of the most widely recognized scientists in the world today. He has written 4 New York Times Best Sellers, is the science correspondent for CBS This Morning and has hosted numerous science specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery/Science Channel. His radio show broadcasts to 100 radio stations every week. Dr. Kaku holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York (CUNY), where he has taught for over 25 years. He has also been a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, as well as New York University (NYU). He is the author of “The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth” (https://amzn.to/2lQyjy4)

In sci-fi and popular culture, there is much talk about when “AI becomes self-aware/conscious” and then bad things will happen to humanity. Aside from being somewhat an overplayed theme, it raises several profound questions. What is consciousness? What is self-awareness? What is sentience? There are no easy answers that could withstand scrutiny.

For me, this is one of the most fascinating aspects of AI – where it bridges the worlds of science, philosophy, and even theology. KurzGesagt has a fascinating video exploring the evolutionary origins of consciousness and how empathy relates to sense of self.

For this Philosophy Friday, I think this talk by John Searle, the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

In this “Talk at Google” he focuses on the philosophy of mind and the potential for consciousness in artificial intelligence.  John is widely noted for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and social philosophy. Searle has received the Jean Nicod Prize, the National Humanities Medal, and the Mind & Brain Prize for his work. Among his notable concepts is the “Chinese room” argument against “strong” artificial intelligence.

As we create more and more sophisticated AIs, we often wonder if we will ever create an artificial consciousness. That begs the question: what is consciousness?  Michael S. A. Graziano explores the question that has confounded scientists and philosophers for centuries.