April 27 Thinkers' Chapter meetup

Hey all. I’d like to discuss the topic “Machine Consciousness” this week. Several discussion over the past month during SAIS afterparties give me the impression that this is a cruicial concept driving much of our thoughts re: social impact and is causing anxiety in individuals throughout the society.

For good reason!

Topics I’ve personally heard include, “Are LLM’s conscious or might they become?”, “How would we know when a machine is conscious?”, “Is it ok to turn off a chatbot?”, and even “Are we creating our own God?”

A fundamental question for all of these concepts, and one which has been investigated for hundreds of years, is “What is consciousness?”. We have more data and models than ever to investigate this question.

Feel free to post any questions or thoughts you might have on this topic here before Thursday. I’ll be creating some discussion sheets from anything posted here for breakouts on Thursday.

Best wishes in this time of world-changing developments!


I have a shoot this Thursday so I may not be able to make it down for the meetup, but here’s my honest knee-jerk response: has anyone thought to ask ChatGPT these questions? Maybe IT knows something we don’t. :smiley:

On a more serious note (actually, I was kinda serious), I have also heard that LLMs are a FAR cry from even AGI, not to mention consciousness (however you define it). I attended a seminar several weeks ago where the presenter was using ChatGPT to come up with promotional material, and I thought it was a bit weird that she prompted as though she were talking to a live person; like saying “hello” and “could you please” and “thank you.”

It’s a computer. A fancy algorithm on a fancy computer. It has no feelings to get hurt if you don’t say please and thank you. It can be programmed to respond as though it does, but it doesn’t really.

Like, you could program
if (number of “please” and “thank you” over the past 10 minutes < some#) { --qualityOfResponses }
if (qualityOfResponses < 0) { quit }

Makes me think of the Genuine People Personalities from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Genuine People Personalities | Hitchhikers | Fandom.

Looking forward to this topic, Paul!

Fascinating and deep topic. Curious how others decide to define the definition of consciousness. This kind of reminds me of deciding how one feels about abortion.

Did a quick question to ChatGPT:

How many ways are there to define consciousness?

There isn’t a universally agreed-upon definition of consciousness, as it is a complex and multidimensional concept that has been explored from various perspectives across disciplines like philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. However, here are a few different ways to define consciousness:

  1. Subjective experience: Consciousness can be defined as the state of having subjective experiences or qualia, the individual’s perspective on their thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

  2. Self-awareness: Some definitions focus on self-awareness, which is the ability to recognize oneself as an individual being separate from the external environment and other individuals.

  3. Introspection: Another way to define consciousness is through introspection, the ability to reflect upon and examine one’s thoughts, feelings, and mental states.

  4. Higher-order theories: These theories emphasize that consciousness arises when a mental state represents itself, creating a higher-order awareness of the initial state.

  5. Global workspace theory: This theory suggests that consciousness arises from the integration of information across various cognitive processes in the brain, creating a “global workspace” where different pieces of information are combined and processed.

  6. Integrated information theory: Developed by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, this theory proposes that consciousness is a product of information integration within a system, characterized by the level of interconnectedness and organization.

  7. Cognitive theories: These theories posit that consciousness is a product of cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and decision-making.

  8. Emergent property: Some definitions view consciousness as an emergent property that arises from the complexity of the brain’s neural networks.

These definitions are not exhaustive, and researchers continue to explore and debate the nature of consciousness. It’s important to note that different definitions might be more suitable for different contexts or purposes, such as philosophical discussions, cognitive science research, or artificial intelligence development.


And you trust that GPT isn’t manipulating this discussion? :wink:


hahaha I buy package meat at the store. lol

I need to add disclaimers to any chatGPT info I use lol. Nutrition facts for the brain.

Poor humans :stuck_out_tongue:

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You reminded me of the Technium for some reason.

GPT-4 Generated Content:

Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine and a writer on technology and culture, introduced the concept of the “Technium” in his book “What Technology Wants.” The Technium is an interconnected global system encompassing all technology, culture, and human-made creations. It is a living, evolving, and self-organizing extension of the natural process of evolution.

According to Kelly, the Technium exhibits its own inherent tendencies and desires, much like a living organism. It is not simply a collection of tools and machines but rather a complex system that has its own agenda, needs, and ways of behaving. The Technium influences human culture, values, and even our biological evolution. It can be seen as a new “kingdom of life” that is intertwined with and influences the natural world.

Kelly argues that the Technium possesses an inherent force that drives it towards greater complexity, diversity, and specialization. This force, sometimes referred to as the “long arc of technology,” suggests that the development of technology is an inevitable and natural part of the universe’s progression towards higher levels of organization and intricacy.

In essence, the Technium is a way of understanding the relationship between humans, technology, and the natural world. It highlights the interconnectedness of these elements and emphasizes the idea that technology is not separate from us but is an extension of our own biological and cultural evolution. By understanding the Technium, we can better navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of technology and its impact on our lives and the world around us.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this response was generated by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI based on the GPT-4 architecture (knowledge cutoff: September 2021). Although the AI attempts to provide accurate and relevant information, it may contain inaccuracies, outdated data, or incomplete context. Please exercise caution and verify the information before relying on it. OpenAI and the user sharing this content are not responsible for any consequences arising from the use or interpretation of the information provided. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I think we have a vast lack of understanding of complex systems. We’ve had several attendees lately talk about cynernwtics and I’d love to get a better understanding of modelling techniques here.

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Ok! I have discussion sheets printed out for the meetup tonight! We’ll be breaking into two groups talking about can machines be conscious, and what are the implications if they are. Looking forward to hearing from everyone!

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