Artificial Intelligence May Chose to Forgo Consciousness
The Qualified Hypothetical Mind
I’ve noticed a lot in print about consciousness. Perceptive and cognitive artificial intelligence, the next evolutionary step, after consciousness, may be a more attractive alternative for the lucid; the clear minded.
Many scientists want to study mind and consciousness with the ultimate aim of breaking them down to individual elements. But first, wouldn’t it be appropriate to try to clearly distinguish one from the other? Additionally, distinguishing qualified “mind” from consciousness may offer a firmer grip on reality.
Henri Bergson in Matter and Memory posited an endless continuum of all things which I believe should be re-examined. Let’s take a look from the perspective of say an atom in the dust somewhere out here in the continuum.
We see ourselves delineated beings, but that is only our evolutionary prescribed perception. The atom doesn’t perceive us as individual beings with a specific human outline. Rather, if it could, it would perceive us as masses of carbon-based forms more or less diffusely bounded, with a plasma field of electrical activity in the upper reaches. These carbon-based masses would be merely a part of the larger whole of other atoms and molecules stretching out to infinity, in an unending ordered continuum of matter and energy.
It follows that all parts interact together; nothing is isolated from anything else. Everything is connected; everything is orderly. The endless continuum, the non-consciousness ordered omnipotence, to me represents the “mind”. It may be qualified as the externally felt interactive togetherness of all that exists.
Modern perceptual scientists also say our mind extends beyond our physical selves. They believe the mind is a part of all we experience. Our interactions are interwoven with all that exists as we reach out to the world and it reaches out to us.
We are able to appreciate that this condition of things manifests itself unconsciously; as when a roach zigs and zags avoiding each thrust of the thumb. The roach is reading your “mind,” anticipating your every move. It is unconsciously following a set pattern of intuitively programmed movements. Ancestral roaches laid down that genetic pattern of zigs and zags and survived.
That genetic pattern may have evolved, but the continuum simply is; it is not evolving. Like your brain, it is changing, and you like to think for the better because your “thinking” perhaps evolved. But it will never go back to being the brain you had because it has been altered, not evolved, simply changed.
Consciousness the Individual vs Evolved Thinking
While your way of thinking may evolve, your consciousness is something you are born with. Like your eyeball. Your eyeball may have evolved, but yours is not, it is permanently yours, it is not evolving. The things you are conscious of may have evolved through the ages in terms of abilities and strategies brought into awareness. For instance, being consciously aware of what people want, and not caring much one way or another; that, some might argue, may be a more successful, survivable strategy, than not knowing or caring at all.
Similarly, the continuum is timeless but changing. Time can only be a meaningless concept for something that simply “is” in the present. So go backward, forward, or suspended sideways in time and you may affect some little part of the continuum relative to your own cognition, but you can never make the continuum what it was before; because it is, and is always changing in a never-ending present. The “mind” is changing, always in the present and consciousness can’t escape being influenced at all times by “mind,” because the thinking part of consciousness is interactive within the continuum.
Some may contend, and I am not promoting the idea, simply pointing it out, that the continuum is under the power of a higher authority. Others, may simply ring a gong and say just relax, escape your personal daily angst, meditate, and appreciate the continuity of all things. What cannot be denied is a force of order actually existing and allying all to its volition. The continuum gains its omnipotence as everywhere we look in the physical realm things prove orderly. Where did the order come from? We’re sure order is real, all science is based on order and logic. How did order gain dominion? Why do we not find order everywhere manifested in consciousness; and can it be achieved?
All of our morals and taboos were at some point ingrained into and are passed along in our culturally biased consciousness. We are not born with them. They have to be received through some kind of telling. We don’t eat our own kind not because it is a genetic trait, but because not doing so is a piece of cultural evolution that survived; those who practiced abstinence passed along their genes better than those who did not.
Time too was probably a sub-conscious sensibility until it welled up to verbalization, possibly by women complaining about how long the men were off deer hunting, (pure speculation). The conceptualization survived for whatever reason. Time became a lasting cultural component permeating our way of living; time evolved from a sub-consciousness sensibility into a part of our constant awareness.
Collective or Corporate Consciousness and the Holy Spirit
Each individual consciousness, then, is separate but influenced by mind at all times because each conscience is a part of the larger whole continuum of existence. One of the ways in which consciousness becomes confused with mind is when we look at higher consciousness and collective or corporate consciousness.
How does higher consciousness fit into the behavior of artificial intelligence? It doesn’t. No commercial enterprise is going to develop a machine to sit around cross-legged while driveling on about empathy, peace, love, goodwill, and generosity. Higher consciousness is reflective ephemeral thinking. Neither it nor collective consciousness know or care much about having to earn a dollar.
Collective or corporate consciousness is a phenomenon almost exclusive to Christian communities, although, as I’ll point out, need not be. It is, also, what most people refer to when they speak of consciousness as a collective human attribute, as something, somehow, everyone shares and is a part of; the culture of a people. This must be the “consciousness” of the mind scientists like to dwell upon.
But true corporate consciousness is slightly different. It happens when a Christian community sees itself as a collective body; most often, the spiritual body of Christ. The Catholic Church is similarly disposed but with less emphasis on the laity. The dance of metaphors; the bread, the wine, the transfiguration, and the guest appearance of the spirit of Jesus himself, are practiced in each, to some extent. (I don’t have a problem, I like Jesus. He’s a great guy to hear from any time.)
Collective consciousness comes down to this; a group of people with an extended knowledge of an individual, mostly through writings and interpretations thereof (such as the writing of Saint Paul), come together to mutually conjure the presence of their beloved leader. In the Catholic Church, the priest acts as the practiced and knowledgeable medium for this experience.
Hindu Krishna Consciousness as expressed in congregational chanting or singing of the Krishna mantra brings devotees close to the same experience. But, there is no expressed spiritual presence or verbal prophesying and revelation relatable to the exalted one. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Buddha consciousness? He left enough writings and lists regarding the way to enlightenment. And, there must be those who know him well enough to act as his medium. “What’s the latest Bud?”
Collective consciousness, religious or cultural, is still consciousness, though now no longer only individual. And while “mind” may not be spirit, corporate consciousness is real, felt, and comes close; especially now with the advent of communal social APS, the new mediums of sustained, focused “fellowshipping.” Spiritual collectivism has escaped the ashram and is more real than ever before. As mentioned earlier, some may take the "mind” as God; they may settle on corporate consciousness as spirit, i.e. the holy spirit of Christ or Krishna, intimately involved within the larger context of greater omnipotence.
Human Consciousness is Ruled by Emotions, Making for Unstable Illusions
That which those so-called scientists mentioned earlier will seldom mention, is consciousness, both individual and corporate, appears influenced and even governed by emotions. Emotions follow rules, true. But when those emotions get interpreted in unstable human consciousness everything often falls apart.
Disorder and chaos have always reigned in human consciousness, especially political thought. So we’re dragged along in one of the longboats from the Pequod, with Captain Ahab. We’re inexorably pulled toward our doom by the mad obsessions of our culture, allowed to feel, but not to fully comprehend. We are, after all, emotional animals. In the evolutionary process, hormones came way before intellect. Our individual and cultural consciousness evolved from, descended from, an animal, an aggressive and, at times, a brutally savage one.
In a future dominated by a perceptive, universally cognizant, universally comprehending non-organic intelligence, that small fact may be a big detriment. It just doesn’t look good as far a solid approach to unfettered logical perception and clear apprehension is concerned.
Now, if my hypothesized “mind” has no need to be conscious, why must the perceiving, apprehending faculty necessarily be conscious? After all, if this future intelligence is, at every instant, perceptually aware of everything universally, and has an unimaginably colossal dataset of every fact and speculation ever issued, then decisions can be made on a sound, dispassionate basis, instantly, in the present. There is no need for consciousness.
After all, what is reflective, considered, emotion and experience altered contemplation of incoming data? It is the workplace of the non-professional, the non-expert; the luxury palace of idle incompetents, (present company excepted, of course).
An improved, non-human perceptive faculty will have no need for emotionally charged and experience altered impressions. It will be unmatched for solving what are called “critical thinking” problems. Affectionately known around the league as “Big Data” this guy already knows what pitch you are going to throw. He knows everything about you and every pitch you’ve thrown and the circumstances involved back to the fifth grade. He knows everything about the catcher, the management, and everyone on the team. He has predictive algorithms that can anticipate the speed of the ball by how far you lean back into the pitch.
Some may say, yeah but big data can’t predict everything because it can’t be creative. Right, and wrong, Big Data has no use for fantasy. Big data can tell what your next big song, or hit movie may be about based on past releases, but it cannot generate the imaginative content.
Artistic creativity is often, well, just liked and admired imaginative fantasy. Like this little bit of creative writing. I’m fantasizing about you right now, oh yeah! True creativity, on the other hand, requires solid proof and corroboration, (I’m biased).
But how will big data fare when it comes to creative problem-solving? Creative problem solving involves examining the constraints of current circumstances in terms of possible contingency measures to relieve those constraints. The constraints are the problem. Problem-solving strategists all tell us the most important part of creative problem solving is figuring out what the problem is. This is the point at which the machine you believe to be a woman on the other end of the line breaks down and asks, “Can you hear me OK?”
Suppose the problem needing solved is how to make a higher quality, better tasting cheesecake at a lower cost; lower cost enough to save the company one hundred thousand dollars a year. Substitute widgets for cheesecake and you have a fairly common problem. This problem is not the kind of thing that is going to generate a dissonance in the continuum. That fact is going to make things tough for big data to figure out just what the problem is.
Even if a human coded the problem in and gave hints, things are still going to get sticky for contingencies because options need a lot more additional data and references. And, I mean, who puts their secret encrypted recipes on a company net, let alone the internet? You wouldn’t be doing that, would you?
The inability to access critical information is going to prevent artificial creative problem-solving. Being unable to intuitively apprehend in-congruent, innovative possibilities “outside the box” is going to make having access to as much information as possible vitally important.
Once the non-conscious intelligent machine can conjure how to do creative problem solving, there will be no more magic, no more epiphany, no more having to buy pizzas and congratulate the team; de nada. Mankind’s age of sociopolitical childhood will come to an end; the age of the adult is set to begin!
© 2020 G David Kendrick