Consciousness in Meme Machines

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Abstract:

Setting aside the problems of recognising consciousness in a machine, this article considers what would be needed for a machine to have human-like consciousness. Human-like consciousness is an illusion; that is, it exists but is not what it appears to be. The illusion that we are a conscious self having a stream of experiences is constructed when memes compete for replication by human hosts. Some memes survive by being promoted as personal beliefs, desires, opinions and possessions, leading to the formation of a memeplex (or selfplex). Any machine capable of imitation would acquire this type of illusion and think it was conscious. Robots that imitated humans would acquire an illusion of self and consciousness just as we do. Robots that imitated each other would develop their own separate languages, cultures and illusions of self. Distributed selfplexes in large networks of machines are also possible. Unanswered questions include what remains of consciousness without memes, and whether artificial meme machines can ever transcend the illusion of self consciousness.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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