Everyone who was freaking out about Bitcoin last year is now freaking out about artificial intelligence (and ChatGPT in particular). It's hard to deny how cool the functionality is...
Articles on robot-written essays and AI-generated profile pics bury the lede, though. The REAL story hear is that scientists are actively trying to build conscious robots.
"This topic was taboo," Hod Lipson, head of the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia, says. "We were almost forbidden from talking about it. This is not just another research question that we’re working on - this is the question. This is bigger than curing cancer."
One of the issues facing scientists like Lipson is that consciousness doesn't have a firm definition. We've never cleanly linked it to a brain region, for instance. Lipson's definition is "being able to imagine oneself in the future."
Thus, he and his peers seek to build machines that can imagine how they might be better and can evolve accordingly via machine learning.
Of course, scientists love to project human features onto devices they create. Thus, we must ask whether those machines actually possess deeply human qualities or whether folks like Lipson will simply project humanity onto non-conscious machines because that's what they're hoping for.
In any case, prepare for the topic of consciousness to massively heat up in coming years.