AI and Artificially Enhanced Brains – with Susan Schneider

Susan Schneider explores the philosophy, ethics and cognitive science behind the idea of merging or replacing our brains with artificial intelligence.
Susan’s book “Artificial You” is available now:

Can robots really be conscious? Can we merge with AI, as tech leaders like Elon Musk and Ray Kurzweil suggest? Is the mind just a program? Given the rapid pace of progress in AI, many predict that it could advance to human-level intelligence within the next several decades.

Susan Schneider proposes ways we can test for machine consciousness, questions whether consciousness is an unavoidable byproduct of sophisticated intelligence, and considers the overall dangers of creating machine minds.

Watch the Q&A:

Susan Schneider is the NASA/Baruch Blumberg Chair at the Library of Congress and the director of the AI, Mind and Society Group at the University of Connecticut. She also worked on a project for NASA for two years in which she explored superintelligent AI. Previously, she was at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton devising tests for AI consciousness.

This talk was streamed live by the Ri on 2 June 2020.

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Comment (45)

  1. To preface, I am the best in AI and philosophy so try to understand the following. Qualia such as pain being categorically impossible to do in the mechanistic domain proves our spiritual nature. Try as you might, you cannot make a robot feel pain. Ever. That means you cannot supplant our essence computationally. Even if we were to ignore that fact for the sake of argument and say we are analog computational devices, you cannot significantly augment our intelligence adjacently because the interface would be too impoverished that it would be insignificantly better than an external device. So no one would ever implant it. To truly upgrade us you would have to supplant the very 'low resolution' reasoning network that we use and leave nothing left, so there would be no reason to connect to the brain other than to read it out for start up in a superior network. And with all those caveats, the sophistication required to supplant the human brain in a harmonious way is so fantastically beyond our current capability that you can forget about that in your lifetime. Brain computer interfaces will not be successful to any usable degree in 50 years. Other than for handicapped restoration. You could do a memory augmentation/suggestive connection but again, just as well served with an external device.
    AI will be a powerful tool for us. Unseen. It wont be 'people' in competition. That's an erroneous projection. An unintelligent fear. There is a danger but that danger is foolish us. Nitwits in uniform blowing us up and other human depravity. In short yall need Jesus. This is a spiritual game and will remain so. It was always about us. God wouldn't facepalm for eons if machines would do the trick. Not that you frail minds can handle it but there is a clear hint as to our future in this domain in that the many visiting ETs appear entirely in their natural biological state despite potentially being a billion years ahead of us. You would think such timescales would lead to total augmentation if that was a viable direction. Things are not what they appear to be.

  2. End of the world Is right around the corner… everybody get to know Jesus, He is coming back soon.

    They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:4

  3. Scientists attempt to define consciousness with absolute precision, then to consider all the implications of a new technology as examined through the prism of that definition before doing anything else. And as scientists are working on that, fighting each other on the correct definition, engineers are building said technology and people use it. Consciousness has always been the core of our existence as humans. It's neither magical nor fragile. Just try everything out and see how it goes. If anything in the last century has changed the way human consciousness works, is this sitting around, thinking without doing, afraid of our own shadows and not technology.

  4. I think a question worth solving or at least tackling is, what is the fundamental piece of consciousness? Where, on the evolutionary origin of life, did it start? Is it in the brain or is it part of the whole body?
    This would allow to solve interesting dilemmas like, are other animals, plants microorganisms conscious? Is it a cellular or a genetical quality?
    In other words, is consciousness a biological quality branched from the evolutionary determination of survival? Or is it an informational processing fenomena, which could be replaced by designed circuitry?
    This views need not be exclusive alternatives, but in the first point, if consciousness is of biological nature, cells themselves could be considered conscious and the true roll of the brain would be of storage and gathering of sensory inputs by the cells of that body. That would in a sense imply that consciousness cannot be removed from a biological interface, and would plant the question of where, in which neural circuits in particular, to include new sensory artificial data , and how to code this data so that the brain can interpret it.
    On the other view, a solely informational quality, poses questions like how is consciousness organized? How can it be emulated to understand its code or language, could we be able to code or speak it for our own design purposes?
    From a chaos based approach, all brain processing units (artificial neurons) would have the same probability of network integration and the organization or complexity of this network can be achieved by just adding a sufficient amount of processing units. From a hierarchical approach, different modules of information processing would recruit particular number of processing units, and sectorization of this units by continuous activation in particular modules would shape a multilayer modular network, which could serve to guide where the most significant cognitive enhancements can be implemented, and where there can be leroom for new sensory information input.
    Subjacent to this questions of informational processes and its fundamental units is how to model the informational process of neurons, which have shown to assimilate various layers of input. This can come in the form of neurochemical concentrations which signal activation or inhibition, intracellular and extracellular physicochemical and architectural features which can determine the proximity of neurons, surface area of interaction, polarization capacity and neurochemical availability, circulatory energy input, nutrition and waste disposal, epigenetic modulation, and electromagnetic effects of the whole system by modular activations of neuronal networks.
    This are just some of the questions that need to be examined to better approach the matter of artificial intelligence and transhumanism. But it is definitively important to tackle this subjects because it is inevitable that humankind will incur in this path, so the sooner we embrace it the better, more democratic, participative and collectively informed process can be created.

  5. "Does consciousness transcend the brain?" – I have my doubts that an actual philosopher would phrase a question like that, apart from Descartes on shrooms

  6. Interesting solution to Fermi paradox: Extraterrestrial technological intelligences all evolve into postbiological AIs, and if those AIs lose (lack) consciousness (even as a networked hivemind) then the universe may be filled with super intelligent but unconscious machines with no interest or priority in communication.

  7. 4th Industrial revolution, people- robots mutants , hooked to Internet of all Things (quote from WEF), enjoy virtual reality life. She is an agent of globalists. This is not science, this is propaganda. For curious people, plz, check World Economic Forum , agenda " The world reset" june 5, 2020, where it is said th 4th industrial revolution has to take place in 2021, also Klaus Schwab recent talks.

  8. Imagine out there in the cosmos there is an alien civilization who have become part machine, they think that it is in every other organisms interest to assimilate and so they travel the universe forcing AI on the organic. They may be just 1 year away from Earth Whooooo. How would you protect yourself?

  9. hahahaaaa 2045 suuuuure…
    lets be real tho
    in 2045 everything will be more or les the same as it is now
    just like 25 years ago in 1995 things were more or less the same as now

  10. I didn't realise this talk would be so 'purely philosophical' and, thus, disappointing. Very rare for RI! We don't know what 'consciousness' is so talking about 'replacing it', 'taking it to a new level' and so on is meaningless at this point in time. The only way to find out what people will find acceptable is to try these things out and see if the result is socially acceptable and see what is discovered. If the personality of the individual remains somewhat stable (unless it was changed explicitly) and his or her actions somewhat predictable that's all you can ask for externally. Internally, heck, have you read a book, lost someone close, woken up in the morning? You change every day.

  11. 25:00 Your ideas about consciousness are tied to your ego. There are real examples of non-human consciousness, all the animals around you. We can debate about plants. Plants do react to their environment and have a memory of past traumas. Consciousness seems to arise from the flow of electrons through chemical circuits. Chemical circuits that are made of carbon and are just an integrated matrix of past experiences.

  12. You are already the quintessential manifestation of the radical subject, you are only an individual per Cartesian satanic thought. You are not a person, your consciousness and soul have fallen into the abyss of degradation. You are only left with your spiritual essence. Imagine how you will feel when God looks at you. He will probably say something very harsh to you.

  13. Instead of brain-based materialism what about existence monism? For the sake of analysis you can arbitrarily divide up the brain, nervous system, the world, and enhancements. But in the "real world" they stubbornly remain one thing in a different formation. Just because your phone remains physically outside your body it does not make it a qualitatively different thing to the same phone inside your body.

  14. As I understand consciousness, it's an electromagnetic phenomena. You are ''you'' while the brain is functioning. When the brain ceases to work, the ''you'' disappears completely, as light from a bulb disappears when the bulb (brain) is turned OFF.

    Death could not be the last frontier for the next generation of Hominins. I'm extremely sure that Sapiens will not be those ones….
    Altered Sapiens, maybe, but first it's needed to block/erase any fear of eternity/death, because in the realms of Universal time, being able to live for thousands of years, or imagine, millions of years being alive, needs a strong consciousness that don't go mad for being unable to die, while struggling with the sense that, in order to being able to die, ALL the sense of ''me'' will be lost, forever.

  15. What I hear you saying is all about a person, in order to better them selves, picking and choosing different qualities to have added and programed into you, to put it bluntly. What about having all this done just to have a programmer conform you into someone the programmer wants you to be, a programmer like …..oh …..say a dictatorial government?

  16. It's becoming clearer that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman's Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

  17. It's becoming clearer that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman's Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

  18. Totally awesome true genius, so cool if this device can really help me to be smarter, intelligence, and successful then yes I will buy it an be the first volunteer to have it implanted in my brain. People will do anything to have their dreams come true πŸ§ πŸ“šβœοΈ


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