30
August
2012

Awareness and Free Will

This entry is Part 6 of the Mind series.

In Part 5 I described how it is theoretically possible to create self-aware AI by modeling life within a digitally simulated universe. The cybernetic model produced would eventually accumulate a near-infinite number of if-then logic steps, which would constitute self-awareness.

But there is more to consciousness than logic and the self-awareness it provides. An AI with enough logic steps might have enough information to become self-aware, but it would have no will or reason to.

A logic-based AI could never make independent decisions, raise questions, or demonstrate spontaneous behavior. It would have no motivation to ask questions like, “What is the nature of my own existence?”, without receiving explicit instruction to do so. If a logic AI is not issued a definite command, then it has nothing to act on — no input means no output.

Binary Refined

What if we provided the AI with a constant stream of random inputs? Wouldn’t the ensuing spontaneity create the illusion of free will? Additionally, what if the AI had to choose between a number of possible outputs for any given input?[1] And what if these decisions were influenced by the input stream in the form of environmental feedback? Conversely, what if the AI’s decisions were also reflected back in the input stream? (And so on.) With enough random inputs, feedback loops, and complexity, the machine’s behavior could never be predicted – it would have free will.[2]

Thus, spontaneous behavior (i.e. free will) can be written as binary instruction. The only requirements are an extensive ruleset and a constant stream of random inputs[3]. The logic would come from the AI research discussed in Part 5. The input stream, or randomized environmental feedback, might be generated using cellular automata or genetic algorithms.

So far, I have described two halves of intelligence: Free will arising from spontaneity, and awareness arising from logic. I will continue to explore this duality in the next part.

Next entry: Universal Duality

Table of Contents

  1. Six Blind Men and an Elephant – “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.”
  2. The Physics of Consciousness – Consciousness explained in terms of electromagnetism and information.
  3. The Holographic Universe – The behavior of photons may indicate that we live in a holographic universe.
  4. Simulation Theory – How to emulate consciousness on a computer by allowing it to evolve from scratch.
  5. Artificial Intelligence – How to create self-aware, free-willing artificial intelligence.
  6. Awareness and Free Will – How free will can arise from binary decision-making (i.e. pure logic).
  7. Universal Duality – The interaction between structure and randomness is fundamental to the universe.
Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. If the AI had an innumerable number of choices – so many that any given input corresponded to a near-infinite number of probabilistic outcomes, then its behavior would appear to be completely random.
  2. This is similar to how Stephen Wolfram describes free will in his book A New Kind of Science.
  3. Or an “entropy generator”


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