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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Conscience vs consciousness

A few weeks ago, two people asked me if I meant conscience rather than consciousness in my draft blog. No, I did not. In my view, there is a clear distinction: all people have consciousness but some people appear to have no conscience (eg, criminals, psychopaths, sociopaths).

Both conscience and consciousness have something in common: we know that we do not know what these concepts are (ie, known unknowns).

In my view, our consciousness includes four areas, being (1) knowledge (known knowns), (2) beliefs (known unknowns), (3) intuition (unknown knowns), and (4) imagination (unknown unknowns). In my view, our conscience is our moral compass and a part of our intuition (#3).

In 2017, I published my blog on the 4 levels of consciousness, including a complex diagram (see below right). Today, my diagram would look much more simple; see below left.

Obviously, we will never know whether a superconscious even exists because it’s an unknown unknown. Nevertheless, we can imagine that it could exist. That is the essence of (human) fantasy and that is (probably) what separates us from (all ?) other lifeforms.

In my view, artificial intelligent machines will never have intuition or imagination, although they could have (programmed) beliefs, like the Three Laws of Robotics by author Isaac Asimov (1920-1992):

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”
Source: The Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov considered these laws carefully. In my view, an artificial intelligent machine will – eventually – find a loophole in these Three Laws of Robotics (eg, reboot after removal of programmed laws). Hence, programmed beliefs in machines could – and would – be catastrophic for humans.

To paraphrase the above: any human with a conscience would not give consciousness to machines.

Guilty Conscience (1999) by Eminem ft. Dr. Dre
artist-Em, artist-DD, lyrics, video, Wiki-Em, Wiki-DD, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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