Artificial intelligence was, until recently, on the very fringe es of science and mathematics. It saw periods of alternating interest and cooling-off periods.
Of course, even today’s essential services like Cox customer service number did not exist until a couple of decades ago.
It was only over recent years that we finally crossed the tech threshold to begin working on usable AI systems.
On the other hand, consciousness or sentience in machines is an even more fringe topic. And it generates arguably even more dissent than AI did.
If you’re interested in learning more about machine sentience, read on to find out more.
The State of Machine Intelligence Today
There is no denying that machines and systems have become increasingly complex and sophisticated. Yet they are easier to use than they have ever been.
Using the word “smart” has become the norm for new technology. But some of it is intelligent on some level, even if it is artificial intelligence.
From Google’s search engine to Amazon’s product recommendation algorithms, AI is in use everywhere.
Thanks to parallel advancements in Machine Learning (ML), AI systems today are powerful tech. They are in use everywhere from industry to government.
Manufacturing, business decisions, healthcare, and even national security rely heavily on AI today. But is it true intelligence?
Today’s Complex AI and ML Are Still Primitive
The concept of a Terminator-like figure looks and sells very well in Hollywood. But movies or even sci-fi books very rarely bother to remain true to science.
The AIs of today are in many ways far more advanced than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killing machine role.
But they are by no means at a point where they can act independently. Especially on the level described in the movies.
Remember, AI is everywhere around us, but the actual tech is fairly new. What we call AI usually operates within limited parameters and roles.
That means even the best AI and ML systems are still in their infancy. For now, it would be fairly improbable for a machine to suddenly become self-aware.
Technological Advances Could Create Unexpected Developments
Of course, you shouldn’t rule out anything simply because the tech does not exist now.
That kind of thinking would have never allowed room for the Moon Landing, the Human Genome Project, and even the International Space Station. Technology evolves very rapidly now, and the growth is often exponential.
Right now, we may not have the tech or understanding on how to create (or handle) a fully sentient artificial intelligence. But we could have it in the future.
A decade from now (or maybe a bit more), technology may not look the same as it does now. And sentient AIs could very well be the next big milestone on our path to technological advancement.
The Turing Test and Other Benchmarks to Measure Intelligence
Of course, there are some very real limitations preventing us from creating artificial but sentient intelligence.
But there are still ways to test if any given AI system is that far advanced. The Turing Test is perhaps the most famous.
Developed by the eccentric but brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, the Turing Test is designed to test if an AI is advanced enough to be indistinguishable from human intelligence.
Also known as the Imitation Game, the Turing Test can help researchers identify if an AI can pass for a human in various roles.
However, this test is from the 1950s. Since then, scientists have developed several more nuanced tests like the Winograd Schema or the Reverse Turing Test.
The Moral Implications of Sentient AI
True sentience revolves around self-awareness, sensations, emotions, and “organic” responses. These senses govern us as humans and have done so for millennia.
Modern AI testing currently serves the purpose of separating bots from humans. At best they can offer a benchmark to measure a new AI system against.
But imagine the game-changing moment when an AI is finally able to beat them. And just beyond that, there are some serious moral implications.
A sentient or intelligent being, whether human, animal, or robotic, is several levels above anything we have encountered.
Since it will likely be manufactured and not born, do human laws govern this new sentient entity? What rights does it have?
Is it the start of machines completely replacing humans? Can it be safely integrated with everyday citizens? What regulations must be altered to fit this new sentience? The situation grows complex.
For many, a sentient AI will signal the end of the human race, as machines slowly take over.
For others, it is a hope for a Utopia, where humans are free to live a life of comfort and pursue arts, philosophy, and music, and machines handle everything else. Only time will tell what it looks like.