Can we already create computers with consciousness?

A few days ago we got the last chapter of soap opera about artificial intelligence what is developing Googlecalled LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) but this time, more than the typical film in the style of terminatoralmost reminds us of a strange cross between classic Steven Spielberg AI and a hilarious Better Call Saul trial.

According to him engineer fired by Google, Blake Lemoine, the company’s sophisticated project to develop an AI (Artificial Intelligence) has started to show symptoms of “consciousness”, not only because of their answers, but also by requesting help to contact a lawyer and claim their rights! And frankly, as a movie script it’s priceless:



The aforementioned Google specialist went to the media stating that the company’s AI had become so advanced that it already showed symptoms of being developed, nothing more and nothing less than sensitivity! According to the engineer, such quality of feeling in LaMDA was observed in his ability to have your own ideas and opinions. He would have even reflected on the concept of death, asking such surprising questions as whether its extinction would be necessary for the good of humanity!

Blake Lemoine assures that LaMDA thinks, feels, has desires and questions the need for its own existence for our good

Before such existential doubts who would not be distressed and ask who he really is, right? Total, that the AI ​​asked the engineer to look for a lawyer, and after talking, the machine decided to hire his services. Since then, Lemoine began to carry out procedures on behalf of her dear electronic friend. To give more emotion to such an exciting plot we have the lawyer, an outsider who leaves Saul Goodman as a wimp, of course, accepts the case convinced -as they make us think between the lines- of being able to get the Supreme Court to declare LaMDA as a a “human” conscience!

And to top it off emotional story, a good villain is needed make things difficult and there we have the evil company, which despite selling itself as the ideal place to work and the best place to play a game of table football with colleagues, is deeply angry with the revelations of the kind engineer, so they remove the project specialist who can change history. What a blockbuster!

if we think about it carefully this presumably sounds like an advertising campaign, and as it continues, one of the best elaborated in recent years. But whether it is or not, the question is unavoidable: Are we close to being able to create a machine with consciousness? And the answer, in the short term, is probably NO.

The possibility of creating conscious machines is disturbing, not bad for a movie script, but it’s still a long way off. understand consciousness

to translate it into code with which to program a computer is currently a titanic task to which we must add another problem that has not been discussed much in this curious case: the hardware, that is, the physical circuits that act as a container for that artificial mind. To provide consciousness to a computer would require that it have a “brain”, not only capable of processing information and generating abstract thought, but also capable of generating a unitary sense of “I” and for that you probably need some circuits called… “neurons”!

With current technology, it doesn’t look like we’re getting close to creating a sentient machine anytime soon.

We are going to try to understand the great problem that we are facing by seeing certain interesting peculiarities of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, which, being transparent, allows its intimacies to be seen through the microscope, which has made it a great friend of biologists. Among the curious characteristics of him it turns out that there are no females! only males and hermaphrodites, and the latter also, you only need 302 neurons for the nervous system to manage to live, interact with their environment and make decisions that have allowed them to continue on this planet for thousands of years. Well, as far as we know, no computer has yet managed to overcome the complexity of its neural structure or many of the abilities of this worm! Now let’s think that the human being has 100,000 million neurons (with its 100 billion connections) and we will understand that at the moment there is nothing that can allow this level of complexity.

Well, maybe we do have something slightly similar not too long ago: it’s the quantum computers and their circuits equivalent to neurons are the Qbits (quantum version of the traditional bits with which computers work). But let’s not sing victory yet, in the best of cases it has only been possible to build systems with a few hundred of these Qbits and they are not easy to connect. Like neurons, their calculations are ambiguous, quantum operations must be improved to reduce the errors that occur and increase what we call coherence, something like the time a Qbit survives before ending up being a bit of the most common . But with everything, the results are surprising and they have already been able to solve problems in 3 minutes that a conventional computer would have taken 10,000 years.

Quantum computers could be the solution to create conscious machines in the not too distant future

At the beginning of May IBM announced a computer with the incredible figure of 4,000 Qbits with which it intends to achieve quantum supremacy and although it will not be available until 2025, it will probably mean a before and after in essential tasks such as the design of new materials or cryptography, since few passwords will resist this beast of calculation.

So for now, thanks to these new machines or advances in AI we can quickly solve complex computational tasks thanks to sophisticated systems that allow computers to “learn”, we call it “deep learning” systems which are made up of intercommunicating “layers” of algorithms specialized in assimilating data representations.

But even that learning capacity initially depends on a few human programmers with their own way of “thinking” and that they transfer to the code. From there to creating awareness there is a long road that begins by understanding what “awareness” itself is, something that is not 100% clear and on which a court will hardly be able to rule, but in short, that reality does not prevent us from dreaming ! At least, with this entertaining story, Google has brought issues closer to the general public that sooner or later we will have to address seriously.

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