Machine Consciousness: Plausible Idea or Semantic Distortion?

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Abstract:

I found the JCS issue on Machine Consciousness, Volume 10, No. 4-5 (2003), frustrating and alienating. There seems to be a consensus building that consciousness is accessible to scientific scrutiny, so much so that it is already understood well enough to be modeled and even synthesized. I'm not so sure. It could be instead that the vocabulary of consciousness is being subtly redefined to be amenable to scientific investigation and explicit modeling. Such semantic revisionism is confusing and often misleading. Whatever else consciousness is, it is at least a certain quality of life apparent from personal reflection. Introspection is, after all, the only way we know that consciousness even exists. Scientific and technical redefinitions that fail to account for its phenomenal quality are at best incomplete. In my view, all but one of the ten articles in the JCS volume on Machine Consciousness commit various degrees of Protean distortion.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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