Conscious machines: How will we test artificial intelligence for feeling? | Dr. Susan Schneider

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The reason we entertain thought experiments such as reincarnation and an afterlife is because we’re sentient beings. These concepts are innate to our experiences as conscious human beings. The ACT test probes A.I. to examines whether it can grasp these questions — i.e., the mind existing separately from the body, or the system without the computer. If so, then there’s reason to believe it’s a conscious being. For machines to develop consciousness, they will need to have the right architectural features. For instance, for humans we possess a working memory, attention, and brain stems — all of which serve as the neural basis of our conscious experience. If there is a machine analog to these things, then it may suggest that the machines are conscious as well.



Susan Schneider is the NASA/Baruch Blumberg Chair at the Library of Congress and NASA, as well as the director of the AI, Mind and Society Group at the University of Connecticut. Her work has been featured by the New York Times, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Fox TV, History Channel, and more. Her two-year NASA project explored superintelligent AI. Previously, she was at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton devising tests for AI consciousness. Her books include The Language of Thought, The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, and Science Fiction and Philosophy.



SUSAN SCHNEIDER: So the ACT test actually looks at the AI to see if it has the felt quality of experience. So we’ve noted that consciousness is that inner feel. So it actually probes the AI by asking questions that are designed to determine whether it feels like something to be the AI.

And I actually published the questions in my book, some of the questions. And they’re questions that are actually philosophical in nature in some cases, or even that are inspired by religious traditions. So one example is you would ask the machine about whether it understands the idea of reincarnation. So even if you don’t agree with reincarnation, you can vaguely understand the idea of your mind returning.

Similarly, you can understand the idea portrayed in the film Freaky Friday of swapping a body with somebody else. You can also understand the idea of the afterlife. Even if you disagree with these ideas, and you think that they’re ultimately not well founded, the point here is that the reason that we can think of these things at all, the reason we can entertain these thought experiments is that we’re sentient beings. It would be very difficult to understand what these thought experiments were getting at if we weren’t conscious beings.

Similarly, think of a machine that is at the R&D stage. So it hasn’t been spoon fed any information about human consciousness whatsoever. If at that point, we detect that it grasps these questions, it understands the idea of the mind existing separately from the body or the system or the computer, then there’s reason to believe that it’s a conscious being. Now this being said, the ACT test only applies in very circumscribed cases.

So first off, you can’t pre-program answers into the machine. So it would be inappropriate to run the test on a system like, say, Hanson Robotic’s Sofia, which has stock answers that she goes through when she’s on TV shows. I’ve done TV shows with Sophia. I’ve noticed that she uses the same answers. They’re programmed in. So that wouldn’t do. Also, you can’t have a deep learning system that has been spoon fed data about how to go about answering these sorts of questions. Also, the system has to have linguistic capacities. It has to have the ability to answer the questions.

Another test for machine consciousness is the chip test. The chip test actually involves humans.

So imagine a situation where you have an opportunity to upgrade your mind, so you put a microchip in your head. Now suppose you are about to replace part of the brain that underlies conscious experience. If you did this, and you didn’t feel any different, and if you checked carefully by neuroscientists and there were no changes in the felt quality of your mental life, if you didn’t turn into one of those cases that Oliver Sacks talks about, for example, in his books with strange deficits of consciousness, then we have reason to believe that microchips might be the right stuff for consciousness.

On the other hand, suppose the chips don’t work. So you go back year a…

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Joseph Christopher says:

does your search engine work well off-line. u need li-fi QUANTUM

3ICE says:

*CUT line #2*: 02:27
Also, the system has to have linguistic capacities. It has to have the ability to answer the questions.

3ICE says:

CUT line: 00:25
And they're questions that are actually philosophical in nature in some cases, or even that are
inspired by religious traditions.

horizontal120 says:

i'm serially thinking of unsubing because i always get that BULLSHIT add of mindvaly asswhipe on this videos … only here .. always … i cant stand that asshole idiot …

SuperAI says:

That is a good question… And there will be one more some time in the future we can add to this: So, we know that people are build with small 'chips' they call cells. How do you think we can determine if they can feel like AIs? And if they don't feel like AIs does it make them 'less', 'worse' in a way?

Vakman says:

I hope you will get another voice if one day you end up a cyborg.

the3pista1c says:

The assumption made here is that conscious awareness is informative in some way, meaning that the very state of being conscious provides us with information that we otherwise wouldn't have. This reasoning is used as an argument against philosophical zombies, which are hypothetical beings which display everything humans display without an inner experience. People will ask, "would a PZ ask questions about consciousness? Why would they if they lack it?" The problem is this: anything which is informative within your conscious mind is physically instantiated by changes in your brain; if you learn something new that something is only known and retrievable because there is a change in the structure of the brain. Questions or information regarding consciousness isn't coming from some magical Land of Mind, they are instantiated by physical changes to a brain, and are therefore fully explainable without any appeal to anything "mental". Consciousness isn't something extra, and if it were it wouldn't contain any information. These tests only show that a machine can make noises which could be interpreted as being the noise of a conscious being.

Wroger Wroger says:

Land Mines have artificial intelligence. They stay on station for decades, and commence operation autonomously. Very sentient robots.

John Smith says:

This people that write about AI are getting worst and worst everyday.

Dustin Farinha says:

So it's just a shittier version of us.

qvistus82 says:

Just show them kittens and you'll have your answer. You'll be home before lunch.

Dan Inbari says:

i find the discussion vague and premature, before we try tests for it, is "consciousness" even properly defined atm?
not yet afaik. not from biological mechanical aspect, not by math, or even by philosophy.

Shaishannah Bennett says:

We must fight against AI with everything we've got! That robot is giving the 'satanic' hand gesture and it's the global satanists who are creating Ai, and it can and does take over/change human consciousness. We must protect our consciousness from this Ai 'mind virus' that is spreading through the population…Tech addiction in young children and adults, changing human DNA (do some research…It's creating an insidious, dumbed down, diminished empathy, generation who have and are being desensitised to violence and distorted sexual programming. The young have/are being programmed to 'Love' the robot for a very long time, so this agenda will be readily accepted…Sex dolls replacing loving human romantic LOve making with a real human, addiction to inanimate objects furthering the separation with our humaness…Need I go on? There is so much more to this and it's being implemented by the very rich elite…Please do some research.
Just a note…I am not part of any doctrined religion, nor a Christian (no judgement to those who are) I am aware and awakening to these agendas and so should you all be if you want to protect your own humaness/mind/consciousness and DO NOT CONSENT to this agenda

D Y says:

This comment section is embarrassing to read. Avoid the nonsense below and feel free to read her book (check the description) or ponder on your own.

I'm afraid you'll find nothing worth your time for a long while.
/ / / / / / / /

She has around 5 minutes to explain two concepts covered in her book (using colloquial terms & simple examples for the audiences benefit).

Embarrassing because none of the commenters who reject the validity of her proposed tests care to explain their reasoning (other than I don't really understand, so no) or counter with a machine sentient test of their own (and why the validity of their test might be better at identifying potential signs of self awareness in deep learning machines).
If in fact they did understand everything, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't be able to put into words the major flaws involved in the concepts presented.

To be too lazy to read the provided description under the video title before typing ignorant assumptions (about Dr. Susan Schneider) doesn't do much to help highlight your perceived intellectual insights.

But ignorance is bliss. You do you.
Peace ✌

dt2748 says:

I don't even see who machines could be conscious like human beings…. I mean robots are pre-programmed for sure if we want them to function as such, but it's not like they naturally develop senses. Machines are machines and to try to make them seem human like is crazy. I think I've seen a few examples before where some human robots can have a few emotion programs built in and that's about it. But consciousness is quite bizarre I would say for robots or any type of AI coming along. If this were a thing it might be terrifying to see. I hope it won't be a thing, and especially with robots being able to detect emotions and such, I don't want some robot with more powers to get angry at me for making it upset, I mean that's potentially dangerous to see I bet. But this video is a bit nonsense so to say and a bit too far with the AI discussions.

big5astra says:

Still comes down to all AI must be programmed/fed/chipped to respond seemingly consciously.

K.Zamanga Duhlian says:

If we are successful we are their God.

nik3r007 says:

Consciousness and intelligence are emergent properties, by definition you can't prove it by examining isolated parts of the system. There is already so much complexity in some trained AI networks, the scientists who made it don't even understand in detail why does it chose the answers it does. How can they possibly isolate consciousness in that complexity, we can't even do it in human brain. Whenever we do stumble upon consciousness in AI, we will not know the AI is truly conscious and it will be an accident. Then we try to kill it, because that's the only option.

patoloco1000 says:

Ha, ha. Chomsky and Stallman said it all. Machines can’t think and they can’t feel!!! Dumb, dumb people who think that Terminator is real make me laugh!!

Invox says:

We don't want conscient machines. We want the ilusion of consciousness in machines.
If they ever got to the be conscient, they wouldn't be machines…They would be slaves.

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