Friday, December 28, 2018

Wearing the inside out

A precise definition of consciousness eluded humanity forever. As she stood up in the African Savannah for the first time and took a peak at the star-studded Southern sky, unobstructed by light pollution, she knew there was something more than tactical optimization of a narrow objective function that included food, sex and survival. Consciousness appears to have originated from the individual abstracting herself from the immediate and visible context. Thus, a conscious individual will be more prone to abstraction such as art, literature and music and will be less adept at prescriptive notions as perpetuated by science and technology. It is likely that the industries that drive the economy has less aggerate consciousness compared to society.

As "artificial intelligence," accelerates with a battle being fought on the margins to make machines, "conscious," the technologists have to understand that one cannot impart a property to an object without a clear definition of the property. Consciousness is clearly not appearing, talking and behaving like a human (or a dog), but rather an ability to abstract. Dogs are likely more imaginative than most humans and they are possibly more conscious. A narrow objective function will constrain the originator and most of the world's human population is struggling to cope. The luxury of time to think is an important nourishing aspect of consciousness.

Then, a more important question is whether consciousness is utility enhancing for the individual. A conscious human being will have a higher level of pain as she attempts to optimize within a complex and uncertain context. A conscious individual will not limit her thoughts to countries, religions, races or education. A conscious individual will not extinguish another, be unfair, seek localization and become narcissistic. A conscious individual will seek to unite rather than divide, seek freedom and achieve happiness within a finite time horizon.

Humans do not seem to have very high levels of consciousness nor do they have a definition for it.