Could a Large Language Model be Conscious?
Within the next decade, we may well have systems that are serious candidates for consciousness. An edited version of a talk given at the conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), with some minor additions and subtractions.
Hard Problem of Consciousness
Philosopher David Chalmers on the combination problem, dualism, and panpsychism.
The world-wide web has been conceptualized as a global brain for humanity due to its neural network-like organization. To determine whether this global brain could exhibit features associated with consciousness, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: information integration, adaptive resonance and global workspace. These theories propose that conscious states are characterized by a globally circulating, resonant pattern of activity that is sufficiently coherent to be examined and reflected upon. We then propose a correspondence between this notion and Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere as a forum for collective thinking, and explore some implications of this self-organizing dynamics for the evolution of shared, global understanding.
The Computational Boundary of a “Self”
All epistemic agents physically consist of parts that must somehow comprise an integrated cognitive self. Biological individuals consist of subunits (organs, cells, and molecular networks) that are themselves complex and competent in their own native contexts. How do coherent biological Individuals result from the activity of smaller sub-agents?
The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness
The science of consciousness has made great strides by focusing on the behavioral and neuronal correlates of experience. However, such correlates are not enough if we are to understand even basic facts. Moreover, correlates are of little help in many instances where we would like to know if consciousness is present: patients with a few remaining islands of functioning cortex, pre-term infants, non-mammalian species, and machines that are rapidly outperforming people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions. To address these issues, we need a theory of consciousness–one that says what experience is and what type of physical systems can have it.