Technology and Consciousness [article]

John Rushby, Daniel Sanchez
2022 arXiv   pre-print
We report on a series of eight workshops held in the summer of 2017 on the topic "technology and consciousness." The workshops covered many subjects but the overall goal was to assess the possibility of machine consciousness, and its potential implications. In the body of the report, we summarize most of the basic themes that were discussed: the structure and function of the brain, theories of consciousness, explicit attempts to construct conscious machines, detection and measurement of
more » ... sness, possible emergence of a conscious technology, methods for control of such a technology and ethical considerations that might be owed to it. An appendix outlines the topics of each workshop and provides abstracts of the talks delivered. Update: Although this report was published in 2018 and the workshops it is based on were held in 2017, recent events suggest that it is worth bringing forward. In particular, in the Spring of 2022, a Google engineer claimed that LaMDA, one of their "large language models" is sentient or even conscious. This provoked a flurry of commentary in both the scientific and popular press, some of it interesting and insightful, but almost all of it ignorant of the prior consideration given to these topics and the history of research into machine consciousness. Thus, we are making a lightly refreshed version of this report available in the hope that it will provide useful background to the current debate and will enable more informed commentary. Although this material is five years old, its technical points remain valid and up to date, but we have "refreshed" it by adding a few footnotes highlighting recent developments.
arXiv:2209.03956v1 fatcat:o3hnlo7aibdhhb27vk7kr7exwe