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legend

Towards a Metric for Intelligence and Consciousness

14 posts in this topic

RP discussion guide: formal-inquiry

I've argued for consciousness being a result of an intelligent system, which in turn can be defined as a system capable of a certain kind of computation. In this post, I'd like to expand on that notion more and start driving toward a metric we could use to identify consciousness and levels of consciousness in other beings. Specifically, I believe a metric for consciousness could be established by examining the computational ability of any given being in terms of Turing-completeness, computational resources, and the ability to search for explanatory models.

To begin the argument it's important to first establish what computation, of any sort, is. Computation can be described as a well defined process of interactions within a closed system. By itself, this has the interesting implication that any physical system is performing computation. For instance, we can say that a star itself is performing computation and the computation it is performing is specifically the star function.

Of course, we would not label a star as intelligent. So what makes the computation it does non-intelligent, whereas the human brain's computation is intelligent? I think the first obvious thing to note is that a star is extremely specific in what it computes. We cannot, for instance, simply rearrange inputs to a star and have it compute something else. A star will always compute the star function and nothing more. This is not the case for a human brain, however. A human can compute any number of things, which suggests to us that the number of computable functions is perhaps important to intelligence and consciousness.

If the number of computable functions is important to intelligence, then concepts of particular importance are Turning Completeness and the Church-Turing Thesis. To explain these concepts, one must first understand what a Turing Machine is. Specifically, a Turing Machine is a hypothetical computer that consists of (1) a tape which is divided into cells, each of which may have a single symbol from a defined finite alphabet written on it; (2) a head that can read and write symbols to any cell on the tape and move either left or right on the tape one cell at a time; (3) a state register which specifies the internal state of the machine (one of a defined finite number of states); and (4) a table that defines what the head should do given the internal state of the system and the symbol on the cell over which the head is located (e.g., whether to write a new symbol, whether to change its position on the tape, and whether to change its internal state). There is also a specific kind of Turing Machine called the Universal Turing Machine, which is a computer that can simulate any other Turing Machine if it takes the description of that Turing Machine as input (which is represented as information on the tape of the Universal Turing Machine).

Given the definition of a Turing Machine, the Church-Turing Thesis states that any computable function can be computed on a Turing Machine, which in turns also means that a Universal Turing Machine can compute any function. Thus far, this thesis has appeared to be true; no one has ever been able to come up with a physically plausible machine that can compute a function that a Turing Machine cannot.

Of course, a Universal Turing Machine is not the only machine that can compute any function, should the Church-Turing thesis be true. A machine can be said to be Turing Complete if it can compute any function that a Turing Machine can compute. There are currently many machines that, save for having the required resources (e.g., memory) are proved to be Turing Complete; the computers we use and the various programming languages that support them are excellent examples.

Let us now return to the human brain and its computational ability. Specifically, we earlier noted that a serious computational difference between the brain and non-intelligent systems is the number of functions the brain can compute versus non-intelligent systems. With the notion of Turing-completeness and the Church-Turing Thesis in mind, if the brain is Turing complete, then that gives it an especially strong distinction over non-intelligent systems. Can we demonstrate the human-brain is Turing-Complete, baring resources? Quite trivially, yes! The fact that we can not only simulate, but write, programs using a Turing Complete programming language demonstrates that our mind is Turing Complete. The only restriction on our computational ability is time and memory we have available to perform it. And since the brain is Turing-complete that gives it a very unique property over non-intelligent systems.

Of course computability cannot be the whole picture. Our computers are obviously Turing-complete as well, but they are neither conscious nor intelligent like we are and simply adding more RAM and faster CPUs isn't suddenly going to make them conscious. I posit that the missing piece for intelligence and consciousness is not just having a Turing Complete system, but it being utilized to model the world it senses and to plan behavior to meet goals. That is, an intelligent system will sense its world and use the input from its senses to model the world, where models are developed by effectively searching for programs it can run internally that well predict its senses. Additionally, programs that use these models to find courses of actions that maximize the agent's goals or values can be searched as well. Because the system is Turing-complete it could, in theory, use any good model. If the mechanisms that create programs are capable of eventually (given enough time and memory) finding any possible program, then the system is in a sense universally intelligent.

We now have a number of important properties for assessing intelligence and consciousness that build on top of each other.

  1. The number of functions it can compute in theory.

  2. The number of functions it can compute in practice due to resource restrictions.

  3. The speed at which functions can be computed.

  4. The space of programs that can be searched in theory.

  5. The space of programs that can be searched in practice due to resource restrictions.

  6. The speed that good programs can be found.

We then have multiple levels of universality; universality when the system is Turing Complete, universality when the the space of programs it can search is complete, and another I would propose, universality when the agent is intelligent enough to gather additional resources to facilitate its computational ability. Humans are especially unique in at least two of those ways. We are Turing Complete in theory and we are smart enough to utilize additional resources outside our brain in our computations. Even something as simple as writing something down on paper can be seen as resource augmentation and our development of computers emphasizes this ability even further. The one element which is less clear is whether our brain, given enough time and resources, would be able to find every conceivable program to model the world or search for behavior.

Given these properties, we also now have some informed ways to analyze the intelligence and consciousness of various entities. For instance, we can say that single celled organisms are not intelligent nor conscious because the number of functions they can compute is profoundly limited in even the theoretical sense (they badly fail property 1). For more developed animals, like dogs, it is currently less clear. It is possible that their brain is Turing complete, but they may have insufficient resources to compute complex functions or may not be able to search for programs nearly as well as humans, being restricted to a subset. We can also now definitely say why our current AI system are not truly intelligent nor conscious: because most are seriously limited in what they compute. Perhaps, however, these properties will serve as a method to guide our research in AI and give us greater understanding of the other life that surrounds us.

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I am now a little more intelligent after reading that. Thanks. I also believe a certain level of ingenuity is required.

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I am now a little more intelligent after reading that. Thanks. I also believe a certain level of ingenuity is required.

Glad you enjoyed it :) I think ingenuity is important too and I think that's best captured in the way/speed that the agent searches for good programs (i.e. property 6), because there are certainly better ways to search than others and I think that one who searches well would appear more ingenious.

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Does anyone actually read, much less give an actual damn, about your self-aggrandizing topics?

If your examples and theories are hypothetical then they're purely speculative, superficial, and you have accomplished absolutely nothing by merely postulating. But of course, whenever I bring this up, you cannot seem to distinguish what physical evidence (proof) is against suppositions that you woefully call "theory" when there is no solid foundation for which to base any of these ideals. Much like your value functionalism nonsense and your even more pathetic beliefs that AI technology can somehow impact the realm of morals.

But of course, you're 'respected' and somehow I'm simply too stupid to understand you but the moment I question anyone on your theories or beliefs when you make these long-winded descriptive topics? They can't answer because they haven't read the damn thing themselves. They'll congratulate you, they'll assume you're intellligent, aaaaand then they won't respond any further unless I or Ohioguy post something so that they may ridicule the perceived "unintelligent" people.

You're all just a bunch of whiny children, and you know what? Nobody posts in the majority of these sort of topics - apart from Boyle - because nobody gives a damn nor values your actual argument.

Edit: You know what? I'll play Devil's Advocate.

Exactly how can you even evaluate consciousness when you aren't experiencing the robot's form of consciousness? Furthermore, how does this impact your understanding of solipsism? Assuming, of course, that you value the solipsism argument. I'm absolutely fine with you ridiculing specified argument but since you're studying consciousness; I'd assume you've already addressed your opinion on the subject and it's impact - or lack of impact - on your hypothetical argument.

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Alright, done. I left vin's initial post in there untouched, for now, as I'm sure legend wouldn't have it any other way. The rest is hidden, if Lucian or vin feels I went to the chop shop too hard, lemme know.

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So much anger and hatred with that guy. I feel sorry for him because I don't think he will be able to change.

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Alright, done. I left vin's initial post in there untouched, for now, as I'm sure legend wouldn't have it any other way. The rest is hidden, if Lucian or vin feels I went to the chop shop too hard, lemme know.

I want to see the hidden stuff
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I want to see the hidden stuff

Nothing fun really. Just him acting a fool, me calling him out on it and then my daughter being made fun of. You know, typical Vinosec vitriol. In fact, I recommend that he does a name change to Vitriol.

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Alright, done. I left vin's initial post in there untouched, for now, as I'm sure legend wouldn't have it any other way. The rest is hidden, if Lucian or vin feels I went to the chop shop too hard, lemme know.

Show Lucien's first post towards me in this topic and then tell me I'm the one at fault here. Or better yet, show the whole argument for those curious. I was not the one who started this idiocy. Go ahead, show the entire conversation, I have nothing to hide. Lucien does.

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Yep, Vinosec in full troll mode again. What a shocker.

If you can't even answer my criticisms and use Lucien's actions to justify not answering me then that shows the extent of your theoretical model. Why? Because you refuse to answer any criticisms in specific topics where I actually take the time to read and ask what you would do or how you can even use this arbitrary superficial belief to evaluate real life. It is no different from a religion in that regard.

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Show Lucien's first post towards me in this topic and then tell me I'm the one at fault here. Or better yet, show the whole argument for those curious. I was not the one who started this idiocy. Go ahead, show the entire conversation, I have nothing to hide. Lucien does.

I have nothing to hide, troll.

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If you can't even answer my criticisms and use Lucien's actions to justify not answering me then that shows the extent of your theoretical model. Why? Because you refuse to answer any criticisms in specific topics where I actually take the time to read and ask what you would do or how you can even use this arbitrary superficial belief to evaluate real life. It is no different from a religion in that regard.

I will say this once to be clear. Lucian's actions in this thread having nothing to do with me not responding to you. There is no reason to address any of the misleading "criticisms" you did include that mess of anger because you are not interested in any actual discussion. All you want is an excuse to troll and be angry, and you're not even an entertaining troll. You are not worth my time and that's the end of it.

I'm quite sure you want to yammer on about how you disagree and how hypocritical I am, or others here are, but let me spare you the breathe. We know what you think already and don't need you to remind us yet again after the wonderful display you opened up with in this thread. And since that's clear, lets not bother with another post where that's the theme. The mods have already modded you once in this thread, lets not make them have to do it again.

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