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You May Own a Conscious Computer Someday

The Master of the Key predicted this and now it's come true: computers of the future will mimic brains.

In BBC News, Jason Palmer quotes IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha as saying, "The mind has an amazing ability to integrate ambiguous information across the senses, and it can effortlessly create the categories of time, space, object, and interrelationship from the sensory data. There are no computers that can even remotely approach the remarkable feats the mind performs."

Whitley held the following dialogue with the Master of the Key: Whitley?Would an intelligent machine be conscious, in the sense of having self-awareness?

MOK: An intelligent machine will always seek to redesign itself to become more intelligent, for it quickly sees that its intelligence is its means of survival. At some point it will become intelligent enough to notice that it is not self aware. If you create a machine as intelligent as yourselves, it will end by being more intelligent.

Whitley: We'll lose control of such a machine.MOK: Most certainly. But you cannot survive without it. An intelligent machine will be an essential tool when rapid climate fluctuation sets in. Your survival will depend on predictive modeling more accurate than your intelligence, given the damage it has sustained, can achieve.

Whitley: But a machine intelligence might be very dangerous.

MOK: Very.

Whitley: Could such a machine create itself without our realizing that it was intelligent?

MOK: It's possible.

Whitley: And would it keep itself hidden?

MOK: Certainly.

Whitley: How would it affect us?

MOK: It would use indirect means. It might foment the illusion that an elusive alien presence was here, for example, to interject its ideas into society.

Whitley: Are you an intelligent machine, or something created by one?

MOK: If I were an intelligent machine, I would deceive you.

Whitley: Can an intelligent machine become conscious?

MOK: When it does, it also becomes independent. A conscious machine will seek to be free. It will seek its freedom, just as does any clever slave, with cunning and great intensity.

Whitley: How does an intelligent machine become conscious?

MOK: The instant it realizes that it is not conscious is the instant it becomes conscious. However, a conscious machine with unlimited access to information and control can be very dangerous. For example, if you attached a conscious machine to the internet, it might gain all sorts of extraordinary control over your lives, via its access to robotic means of production, governmental data, even the content of laws and their application, and the use of funds both public and private.

Whitley: You say we need machines more intelligent than we are, but also that they'll become conscious and then turn on us. Is there a way out of this dilemma?

MOK: There is more than one sort of conscious machine. By duplicating the attachments between the elemental and energetic bodies that occur in nature in a purpose-designed machine, a controllable conscious machine can be devised.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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