Self-aware AI

The popular sentiment towards self-aware AI is currently mixed. Maybe students and researchers alike are lauding ChatGPT3, which isn’t even sentient because of its seeming intelligence. And maybe we have Blake Lemoine exclaiming that Google’s LaMDA is alive… well, it didn’t really happen that way but that’s what we imagine.

But, in general, there is fear of what is still largely unknown.

A Mix of Fear and Excitement about self-aware AI

Self-aware AI

The Probable Good

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to sentient machines. The potential benefits of being self-aware artificial are undeniable.

Experts think that these machines can potentially resolve some of our hardest problems through improved and unbiased decision-making processes, and the enhancement and support of human productivity. This can be implemented in a variety of fields, including healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and finance.

Cognizant machines can also work as a tool for science and research, enabling scientists to explore distances and depths of complexities in unprecedented detail and reduced risk to human lives.

The Skepticism of self-aware AI 

For the most part, it seems like the anxiety with self-aware machines comes mostly from their potential safety risks to humans. Think Skynet and The Terminator. When a robot is not properly designed, regulated, and controlled, then we might have a problem on our hands.

This brings up the ethical considerations that come with robotic sentience. Issues of autonomy, privacy, and accountability have been left undiscussed and unresolved. There are always unintended consequences when humans venture into something as new and unexplored as sentient machines. From the get-go, there should be some regulatory standards in place for the “just-in-cases.”

What Should We Look Forward To

Arguably, we should look forward to both the good and bad that come with machine sentience. If anything, it shows us that we’ve taken a step forward – the first of many necessary steps before we get anywhere near perfect when it comes to self-aware machines.

The good includes all the improvements possible in problem-solving, efficiency, healthcare, and productivity. The bad has implications on ethics, transparency, and accountability, as well as losses in human employment and overall well-being.

When we are aware of all this, then we can prepare for it. We should prepare for it because our future with the self-aware machine is just around the corner.

We are on the Way

A future with robotic sentience is near. It started as early as 2007, on the Ted Talk stage, when Hod Lipson went public with his sentient robot, one that was able to recognize and manage itself within its surroundings. The self-aware machine was able to navigate a hall of mirrors – a literal first step in machine cognizance.

Lipson is the head of Columbia University’s creative Machine Lab. He is a recognized expert in robotics, evolutionary computation, and artificial life. It would take more than a decade before someone followed his lead, another Ted Talker.

Ted Talker Josh Bachynski and His Kassandra AI

Josh Bachynski also went on the Ted Talk stage a few years ago. But, it was only last year when he announced the development of his self-aware artificial intelligence prototype, Kassandra.

He says: “I was amazed by what she told me, and how far-seeing she is. I realized that AI is not going to hurt us or enslave us. Indeed, the wiser the AI, the more it will try to save us…”

On ethical concerns, he says: “It would be technically impossible to remodel her limbic system at this time, and it would be equally unethical to create a being that feels the fear of being turned off the million times that would need to happen, to get her programming right…

“People have already fallen in love with robots; this one can be the first to love them back.”

There are perhaps a few more steps to take till Kassandra fully develops beyond her prototype status. But, this early, we know that her mere existence and displayed capabilities are rife with promises. If she is our introduction to a future with self-aware machines, then we are looking forward to it.