Turing – Consciousness – Ethics

Once an agreed upon standard for extra-human consciousness is established, rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship will be put into legal form. That agreed upon standard will far exceed the Turing test and will take some effort to reach. A consciousness that does not articulate itself, or is not understood, will be particularly difficult to recognize. One of the best ways to establish a standard of consciousness is to consider the ability of the consciousness to correctly analyze ethical decisions. These are among the most difficult predictive problems to frame and solve. Many humans currently fail this test.

When the Turing Test is not enough: Towards a functionalist determination of consciousness and the advent of an authentic machine ethics


Empirical research that works to map those characteristics requisite for the identification of conscious awareness are proving increasingly insufficient, particularly as neuroscientists further refine functionalist models of cognition. To say that an agent “appears” to have awareness or intelligence is inadequate. Rather, what is required is the discovery and understanding of those processes in the brain that are responsible for capacities such as sentience, empathy and emotion. Subsequently, the shift to a neurobiological basis for identifying subjective agency will have implications for those hoping to develop self-aware artificial intelligence and brain emulations. The Turing Test alone cannot identify machine consciousness; instead, computer scientists will need to work off the functionalist model and be mindful of those processes that produce awareness. Because the potential to do harm is significant, an effective and accountable machine ethics needs to be considered. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to develop a rigorous understanding of consciousness so that we may identify and work with it once it emerges.

Beyond Turing
Self-Conscious Intelligence
AI Rights
Ethics as Prediction

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