Is the new generation of AI conscious? Or at what point might it become conscious?
To answer this we need to have a clearly defined theory of consciousness. We will never ‘agree’ on the best theory or model, but if we have a set of contenders that are well articulated we can debate with some specificity.
Here are four of the most relevant models for consciousness relevant to the advent of AI.
Integrated Information Theory
Integrated Information Theory (IIT) has been proposed by Guilio Tononi and is supported by leading AI researchers such as Max Tegmark.
IIT proposes that consciousness stems from the integration of information within a system. Tthe degree of consciousness in a system is determined by the quantity and quality of interconnectedness between its components. IIT uses mathematical models and principles to quantify the level of consciousness in a value called “phi” (Φ)., which represents the amount of integrated, functionally interdependent information present in a system. As such, Phi could be calculated for AI systems.
IIT has received many critiques, notably from renowned computer scientist Scott Aaronson. He however interestingly notes that:
In my opinion, the fact that Integrated Information Theory is wrong—demonstrably wrong, for reasons that go to its core—puts it in something like the top 2% of all mathematical theories of consciousness ever proposed. Almost all competing theories of consciousness, it seems to me, have been so vague, fluffy, and malleable that they can only aspire to wrongness.