Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Machine Consciousness: Implementing a Non-Interventional Policy

By Justin WelfeldPublished March 24, 2017

Although many debate the viability of engineering consciousness, leading scientists corroborate the impending nature of such a technological singularity.

By Justin Welfeld, 03/24/17

    1. In a statement supported by Elon Musk and Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking's wrote "one can imagine technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human research, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand". With such a perspective, one could understand the push towards implementing restrictive government policies countering Silicon Valley's machine-learning arms race dubbed the "Manhattan project of AI". However, the implications of such an artificial intelligence revolution are so great, the future of humanity relies on our capitulating to science and transforming with the current of unbridled technological advancement.

As Carl Sagan explains, "the circuitry of the brain machine is more wonderful than any devised by humans, but there is no evidence that its functioning is due to anything more than the 1014 neural connections that build an elegant architecture of consciousness". Simply, crafting machine consciousness is simply a factor of artificially replicating the complex hardware and software of the brain. Though this is a historically inconceivable feat, ever-advancing scientific command of neural systems and materials engineering will eventually realize this accomplishment. Ray Kurzweil, Google Director of Engineering, predicts this breakthrough occurring within the next half-century.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, skilled textile workers besieged mills across England to destroy the advanced textile machines replacing their jobs. These Luddites sought to eliminate the vanguard technology out of fear of losing not only their jobs, but also their way of life to technology. The ensuing Industrial Revolution, with consequences inconceivable at the time, advanced humanity in 50 years further than it had progressed in the eleven-thousand since the Agricultural Revolution. Now, humanity stands at the brink of yet another revolution; a revolution of machine consciousness.

Immediately, Donald Trump's travel ban has elicited a visceral reaction from Silicon Valley where stringent immigration policies threaten to upend the way the tech hub currently works. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Steve Jobs' father all immigrated to America at a young age along with a countless high level engineers and software developers. Though immigration is a topic necessary to contextualize into a broader picture, the technological implications of this ban must be considered. Additionally, many other government policies currently disrupt technological innovation in machine consciousness. Rather than resisting this opportunity through regulations and government intervention stifling AI research, Google and other major companies revolutionizing machine learning should proceed unshackled to lead humanity through this revolutionary transitory period of human experience.