Artificial Intelligence: Man versus robot.

The following essay is from a longer piece I’ve been working on addressing the subject of free-will in a framework where human/animalistic instinct still operates, and the dichotomy it poses in attempting a rationalised analysis of consciousness.

 

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Consciousness is a term we use to explain the nature of imagination and free-will, even though we don’t really know what it means; that spark that brings the very physical to life. Yet what is consciousness, how do we actually recognise it?

What is it that defines consciousness?

How do we make the distinction between man and machine, for example?

When we begin to examine the concept of consciousness, we might identify it as a set actions, impulses, chemical reactions that follow very definite patterns that are recognisable as that which makes something ‘alive’. If then, a machine is programmed to emulate those definitive patterns, would it not be considered as living?
If life depends on mechanical biological action, then what role does a concept of consciousness actually play?
Furthermore, if free-will is based on an illusion of a vast number of permutations and variables available to us through the scope of random cause and effect, then the only thing restricting the machine from exercising its own form of free will is a powerful enough computer, such as is the animalistic brain and neural cortex, that will allow it to perform such decision-making capabilities. If that were possible, would the machine then be deemed as exhibiting a state of consciousness?

A recent study of life after death carried out in 2016 attested to test subjects having an awareness of the room they were in even when their physical organism had stopped working and had therefore been pronounced clinically dead, even if only momentarily before being resuscitated. Whether such a thing is possible, either the study itself or the concept that consciousness can exist irrespective of the physical form is open to debate. However, the kind of consciousness that Seth and the Sidiris have often talked about is exactly the kind that exists beyond the manifestation of the physical organism, and is said to be the so called engine of the physical organism in the first place. One cannot be seen as being separate from the other according to this premise. If physical life is not the be all and end all of conscious existence, then we have a lot to think about and re-evaluate.

Limiting the extent of our belief structures and therefore the nature of our experiences both shapes who we believe ourselves to be, and curtails our potential understanding of what our lives mean to us. Without consciousness there is no imagination. Without imagination there is no meaning, and without meaning life is without purpose. No matter how lacking in spirituality we might believe ourselves to be, or however logical or rational we may see ourselves as being, we cannot deny the importance of applying meaning to our existence. Without meaning or the ability to mentally rationalise, we have no point of reference with which to relay experience in the way that we do, and we become solely dependent on biological instinct in order to ensure our physical survival. We would become biological machines with no real reason to exist other than to follow the forces of a random biological nature. Yet that is clearly not the case. A purely biological machine would have no need of an imagination. We would be no different than a flower for example. Indeed, many would laugh at the concept of a plant as having any imagination whatsoever, yet it lives quite happily without one apparently. Just another biological organism that functions in very complex, definite, but accidental ways.

We claim to understand the concept of being conscious without really understanding consciousness in a way that is observable to us. We might tell ourselves that even though we can imagine something into possibility, that it would not be physically possible given the current parameters of our accepted beliefs, that being the current acceptable laws of physics. It becomes apparent therefore, that the only real delimiter here is our unrelenting insistence on the veracity of the beliefs that we subscribe to, and indeed what we consider truthful and therefore real. Because we believe that such and such is true, then it is until we have an experience that causes us to re-evaluate our particular brand of truths.
The infallibility of the human brand of logic is that it is very fallible indeed. It can only be based on what we allow to manifest within our range of personal experience. An experience of an event within our external environment is still evaluated through the lens of private perception. Events occur and exist because we decide that they do. We assign values and meanings to them that allows them to become memory, and form the ongoing narrative of our lives. We assign personal meanings to these memory events that give substance to our sense of personal and social identity. Physiological responses however, are not dependent on direct collaborative physical experience in order to manifest and to have an effect on the physical organism, or the kinds of choices that the physical organism decides to make in its continued existence. Psychosomatic conditions are a demonstration of that. In fact, memories are a common and frequent demonstration of that, where memories from childhood for example can be triggered with vivid clarity so that we re-experience them anew in full sensory Technicolor. The expectation of one breath following on from another is another demonstration of a psychosomatic reality as it translates into potential physical action. There is nothing in our observable world that we could pinpoint as giving us a reason to keep inhaling and exhaling and yet we do, quite divorced from the events happening directly before us in the physical environment, or the psychological events occurring in our minds and bodies.

Most of us have been taught to differentiate between experiences as if each nuanced sensory event were indeed suspended in its own little bubble of meaning. Separate languages, national identities, cultural beliefs arise and are shaped because of this very human quirk. Some may be very quick to interject with a , “yes, but…”, however, analysis is how we make sense of the world we live in and how we understand our positions within it, though it is a product of quite conscious imagination simplified into terms that are mutually intelligible within the human community, and that follow the conventions that we put into place through consensus. That we perceive imagination as being separate from what is physical and therefore what is ‘real’ is a failing of understanding on our part as unique individuals. It isn’t anybody else’s fault that we choose to believe what we do, and to hold in high regard the beliefs that convene best to our own personal self-image, that is something we choose to do quite willingly and independently of the fold. Given that we seem to have free-will and the ability to say “no”, and choose from a number of possible courses of action, then we only have ourselves to blame when we decide that things don’t fit into our perception of reality. Consensus cannot exist without our concerted participation in wider social events. Where there is disagreement there is a lack of consensus and the very real possibility that what is real, really isn’t. The fear of instability and falsehood then, becomes the thing that is focussed on when making evaluations of personal and mass experience as perceived through the individualistic lens. This fear is often what dictates the beliefs that we hold, and prevents us from exploring the full breadth of our imagination. It doesn’t limit our free-will because we still have a choice to think something different, but it does define the kinds of experiences we allow ourselves to have, in very definite and in very real terms.

If you decide not to leave the comfortable boundaries of your home, then you will not discover the potentials that the outside world has to offer you. The nature of your experiences will be very different to those of someone who is hardly ever home and exploring the outside world. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but in believing that the world has nothing to offer you outside of your four walls, then you reinforce that belief and limit the range of your experiences accordingly. Similarly, if you are unwilling to step outside of the safe parameters of your conscious mind and your accepted belief structures, then you will limit the kinds of thoughts that you may have by dismissing all of those ideas that don’t conform to your current beliefs. If psychological beliefs are a prerequisite to subsequent physical experience, then it would be very difficult to separate the two as we often do in our evaluations. Indeed, it would become obvious that one is highly dependent on the other in order to function as it does. It would also become obvious that it would be ludicrous to evaluate them differently, as we often do in the West treating the psychological as being less than the physical in terms of validity, or reality. We have become so accustomed to our verbal definitions of what is valid and real and what is not, that we have created big white elephants that occupy our mental space, and that impede our evolution in so many important ways, for no other reason than because we are afraid and stubborn, and too enamoured with our uniqueness to see beyond the mental and indeed physical barriers that we create for ourselves. However, as long as we can logically accept that this might be the case, then we have a chance of attaining the state of private happiness and fulfilment that we all seem to crave, because once we recognise the problem, then we can change it. For as long as we accept something as a given, then we allow ourselves to be subject to its whims and restrictions, and we define ourselves accordingly.

At no point is the integrity of our own private beliefs ever at question. It must be clear upon closer examination that no matter what happens, no matter what is said or what rules and strictures are seemingly imposed upon us, that we nevertheless maintain the right to think and believe what we wish, even if we never give voice to it. To a very large extent this affords us protection from potentially damaging influences. In keeping our cards close to our chests, and therefore keeping certain private beliefs secret, we are able to more deftly manipulate events so that our continued survival and happiness is left intact. What this implies however, is that at no point are we not in control of what we choose to experience and the way that we choose remember it, and that denial of such is a blatant manipulation of the truth. Nobody tells you how to breathe, you just do it. Similarly, nobody tells you how to think, you just do it. That others try to tell you what to think is about them trying to control you, but it is still up to you, up to us, and our personal sense of fear and stubbornness that allows them to do so to whatever degree, or so it would appear to our very individualistic, and highly moralised senses.

Seth and the Sidiris have often addressed the concept of mass and collective consciousness, suggesting that patterns of consciousness exist ‘outside’ of the unique vision of the individual human entity, but that it’s also very much a part of the fabric of individual human consciousness. The suggestion is that thoughts, ideas, potential events do not originate within the human form alone, but pulse across the field of consciousness in a very collaborative and mutually fulfilling way (see previous post: Seth on the Reality of Thought). The concept of human individuality and uniqueness loses its infallible gusto in such a model, so that it then becomes a symbiotic relationship between man and his wider environment, both psychologically and physically. The nature of beliefs and thus reality take on a very different cast, and the implications for the nature of our existence begin to extend beyond the mere trappings of the mortal flesh and into the realm of the unfathomable, yet possible. In this model the imagination is given the freedom to roam where it wishes and to see the very real results of its explorations.
We cannot know the extent to which even our most infallible of beliefs restrict us unless we allow ourselves to think beyond them and to experience their ensuing realities. Our beliefs often form convincingly real barriers within our experience and definitions of reality, yet in order to appreciate the breadth of our imagination and the possibilities for our physical and psychological evolution, as both a species of kind and a species of consciousness, we have to be willing to entertain new possibilities, and more importantly to entertain the possibility that the reality we seem to so readily take for granted is not what we think it is. The solid wall that separates us from the outside world may just be an illusion created by the physical senses, and if that’s the case, then what other illusions are we maintaining in order to substantiate our current models of truth? It becomes evident that what is psychological cannot be governed by the same laws we accept of the physical world, yet the two are facets of the same living and breathing consciousness, whatever that is.

 

 

*Photo credit goes to Bill Jones Jr. Thanks for allowing me to use your images, B! Check out Bill’s excellent work at Firewing Photography.

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7 thoughts on “Artificial Intelligence: Man versus robot.

  1. I’m always on the outside of discussions like this for a number of reasons, the primary being that my beliefs seem to have been engendered at (or prior to) birth and are in some ways immutable. Even worse, they seem to hover between those who believe in a fixed, physical reality and those who believe more as you do. None of that is to say I believe either camp is wrong. I mostly fall into the sphere of “being open to possibilities,” or said in a less self-aggrandizing way, “undecided.”

    I tend to believe we’ve been given a physical reality by the complexities of the universe, which though in no way random, fits a pattern so complex as to appear random to our understanding. That being said, however, doesn’t mean I believe we can’t or don’t make our own reality. I accept that the sun is real, the oxygen in the atmosphere allows me to breathe, and at some point my physical body will die. That being said, I don’t accept anything non-physical to be true. And as I think you’d agree, I challenge which things are truly physical and which we’ve just accepted as such.

    While the sun may be real, and we believe it to be around 4.6 billion years, I’m of the opinion that it could equally be 1 billion or 400 billion years old, since we base the “fact” of its age, not on something our senses can detect (and our senses lie anyway) but on a belief system we’ve called “science.”

    So, in some real aspects, as you’re eloquently detailed, we’ve created our physical existence by “defining” the universe and force-feeding all others to accept its truth.

    While I may ever be mired in the quagmire of having accepted that my reality, to an extent, was thrust upon me, I can help but wonder if, as you say, I am wrong, and if a billion other souls could simply believe in a better one, if this sad reality would change. Here’s to hoping that is true.

    P.S. I loved the speculation as to whether AI is real, or when it becomes real. In my writings, the more I think of it, I wonder if consciousness is only limited to the organic. If a human brain is successfully inserted into a robot, we’d all say he’s conscious. If the reverse were true, would we say he’s not? I wonder.

      1. I probably should have qualified it with “necessarily” or “automatically” true. I meant that for things like belief systems (in which I include science) I don’t just accept the truth of them. People’s assertions of fact just bounce off my brain, leaving me mostly unaltered.

        I has the dumb.

      2. Lol! Dumb you’re not, just fixed in your views, as we all are in our own unique ways, apparently. Although, lately I’m not so sure about than anymore.
        But you have to admit that your ability to think is a reality in itself even though it cannot be physically measured in any way that attests to its complex nature, surely?

        In admitting that you believe your own beliefs to be fixed and immutable before birth is saying that you don’t really believe in free-will, or do you?
        If not, then where you do your ideas and beliefs come from? And how could they be explained within a scientific framework?
        If nothing is random, then the current belief systems that operate within our society are wrong, and therefore much is possible.
        I fear though, that our human brains as we currently allow them to function are just too limited to conceive of any concept outside of the remit of rational logic. My own biggest failing perhaps is that I am incredibly logical, possibly to a fault. Perhaps I should try to be more of an anarchist like HCB. 🙂
        However, human logic is a very difficult thing to escape, try as I might. It’s just too easy to expound one’s beliefs as fact when the vehicle for communication is so terribly limited. Being and doing is the best possible hope any of us have at making sense of the bigger and the smaller pictures. Like I’m often finding myself saying, words are trip-hazards, getting us into awful messes that become increasingly hard to justify and clear up. The more we expound and argue a point, the tighter those concentric circles of logic become, until we make a noose for ourselves and we have to start again!

      3. I’m not sure I believe in free will, but then again I have zero belief in destiny, so I suppose that means I do. Still, I wonder if there is something in between, if this entity named Bill is merely the continuation of a prior entity with stubbornly fixed beliefs. If so, I’d like to ask the prior one why he/she chose to go back in time for this life. I’ve always liked the future better than the present (present company excluded).

      4. Maintaining a state of suspended belief seems to be the best option, if I am to make a logical leap in my understanding of the nature of reality, not as I have been taught necessarily through reading and channelling myself, but through my own life-long experience since I was a tiny peanut. I have to remind myself that I believed everything I do now long before I came across Seth or even the notion of channelling. How I perceive the world is not a bit like others perceive the world, that couldn’t be clearer to me. I’m capable of things science categorically says should not be possible. Yet to me they have always been normal, and I’m understanding with more and more clarity these days how and why that should be so.

        I like the notion that you relate to a portion of your existence from another future reality. All I know is that the more possibilities we entertain, the happier it seems to make us. That’s a good premise to espouse, I think, given that we are predominantly driven by a search for positive experience.

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