Monday, April 7, 2014


I have heard some conversation lately to the effect that developments in artificial intelligence have given the lie to many of the theories presented in this blog.  This is in no way true.  Artificial intelligence may use complicated algorithms to be able to come up with answers to questions that may confound ordinary humans, but the process of coming up with these answers is never a conscious one.  Artificial intelligence machines are machines.  They do what they are programmed to do by conscious human beings.  There is no consciousness within the machine itself.  Artificial intelligence machines do not do what they want to do.  There is nothing, no entity, no 'it' within that machine that could independently want anything.  And when these machines reveal an answer, there is no experience, either the experience of a victory at solving a problem, or the experience of a defeat at being unable to solve a problem.  Artificial intelligence equipment does not care if it is running or shut off.  It does not care about anything.  There is no being, no experiencer, no desirer, within the machine that could possibly care about anything.  Conscious beings try to solve a problem because of some experience they feel when the problem is not solved, and because of the experience that they imagine they will have if they are able to solve it.  If there is any selection process going on in an artificial intelligence machine, it originates in the desires of the programmer, the conscious being, that set up the machine to select certain things and not in the desires of the machine that yearns for a certain outcome.  Artificial intelligence machines give us the answers that we want.  If we waited for an artificial intelligence machine to find the answer to something that 'it' wanted, we would have an awfully long wait.

When we think, we observe the process of thought.  We see whether or not things fit.  In artificial intelligence equipment there is no such observer.  There are no thoughts, either expressed in words or pictures or numbers.  There are only patterns of electricity.  One pattern fits another pattern which leads to a certain result or it does not fit, which leads to a different result.  The only one observing this process is the human operator of the equipment and not the equipment itself.

Living behavior, including living computational behavior, is experiential.  We try to figure things out because we want to.  The unsolved problem creates an experience in us and the solved problem creates a different and hopefully better experience in us.  We compute just like we do everything else in the hopes of having a better or more complete experience than we were having before we began the computing.  Artificial intelligence machines compute because they are programmed that way, and experience nothing either before or after their successes (as measured by humans) or their failures (as measured by humans).

The unitary consciousness, the ground of experience, the desirer of desires, the perceiver of perceptions, the thinker of thoughts, the initiator of behavior, the doer of deeds, in other words, you, the self, is not a thing.  It is the context of things.  And it will never be produced in a laboratory or created by a scientist.  Consciousness is not only the exclusive domain of life; it is life.