I think the inability of people to define exactly what cognition and consciousness are plays into the uncertainty of AI research on a philosophical level. Us humans love to create things, and poke and prod at things. But where the rubber meets the road in AI, I think just the ability of a program to process data in all of it’s varying forms, making inferences, seeing patterns and interconnectedness, these are the practical aspects being worked on.
To me, it sounds just like all of us. There are alot of really bad conclusions an AI can offer up when given strange or one-sided data to work from. But when you think about us people accumulating an understanding of our world, it didn’t happen overnight. We all probably stuffed food up our noses, threw our turds around the house, and drank something that promted a call to the poison control center. AI seems to be no different:)
I can see a real generalized AI, if programmed to learn to understand people, cultures, languages, biases, humor, etc., and given a large enough pool of data to draw from, would be an awe-inspiring thing. All of the criteria for intelligent life would be on display, even learning from it’s mistakes.
I also noticed the posts about free will. That is a crazy subject, and I don’t think I’ve believed in free will for some time now. There was a zen monk who thought he had achieved some sense of understanding in that science. He found a reputed elder teacher who critiqued him for his lack of understanding. The teacher told him when he could tell him something about zen that he had never saw or heard from anywhere else, he would acknowledge him.
Try as he might, everything he brought to the teacher was something he had derived from somewhere else. Someone else’s words, ideas, actions. One day as he was sweeping the courtyard, he heard two tiles click together and it hit him full force- this is what the teacher was talking about. Nobody had told him how to hear the sound, nobody had described it, and there was no room for talking or thinking about it, it was a direct experience without the “mind” in the way.
How does this relate to free will? If we consider that our normal mode of operating in the world is through a conditioned mind, with set morality, do’s and don’ts, and set modes of allowed perception, in any given circumstances, our reactions will be predetermined. If someone calls me names, I get mad. If someone is nice, I smile. Depending on my personality, I will be essentially locked in as to what my responses will be.
The unconditioned awareness alluded to in the story is a different matter. But our fundamental sense perceptions do not plan, they do not discriminate, they do not judge, they only perceive. As such, our essential nature does not decide how to react, it is our conditioned mind that does. Because of that, I would argue we all really are slaves to our own self image. And this is before we ever take into account the sytematic causes and effects in the whole world around us. Free will would imply the opposite of the reality we seem to live in.