A quick disclaimer before you read on, you are now entering into a philosophical zone, where nothing is right or wrong, everything is an extent of the imagination. This is an area of the brain, which gets activated only while intoxicated, so you might want to grab a drink. Generally, our brain works within the confines of an imaginary boundary, that is, until we let go and enter into the ‘zone’. There is a lot of debate about consciousness and if machines can ever achieve it. Singularity is a futuristic state when machines will achieve true consciousness, and humans will no longer be the superior one.
Human beings are born with a survival instinct, which is hard-wired in our brains. It’s like a part of our brain is a microcontroller equipped to perform a specific task, and the other part is a microprocessor, which combines with multiple sensory organs to perform various tasks. For sure this is not all it has to offer. Let’s go a little deeper into the philosophical zone now. What is consciousness, I hear you ask. Is it self-awareness, an emotion, a belief system, or something else?
We say humans have consciousness; they are self-aware. Yes, we know we exist, yes, we understand we are in an eco-system, yes, we have a belief system, yes, we feel happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety and sometimes crazy. Are all these related? Every human being has a different belief system, they exert different emotions to an event. The thing that makes you happy may not tickle my bone. But yes, we are aware that we believe in something and what makes us happy or sad. Is this self-awareness? Why something funny to me, offends someone else?
I think belief causes emotions, and that you won’t feel an emotion unless it’s a part of your belief system. A belief system is like a repository of what you perceive is good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad. You keep updating this repository as you collect more data from experience. I also think emotions cause actions. Our actions vary depending on our belief system, and the extent of the actions depends on how strong the emotion that it relates to. Is that all what consciousness is? If yes, then I can easily imagine that a machine can achieve this.
So far, we have looked into a rational point of view, but we all know that human beings are far from rational. We often deviate from our belief system, and at times we overpower our emotions, sometimes we even fake it. There are times when we follow a belief that we are not really sure of, and other times we are sure but don’t believe it. We may believe in something which is not possible but refuses to believe what we observe. We go against the odd sometimes but quit when all the odds are with us. We question the very idea of asking questions. And this too is consciousness.
Can machines ever achieve it? My belief system says yes but still questions it. So far machines are only looking for answers but my friend, when they will start to question, we will not be far from Singularity.