Artificial consciousness: A perspective from the free energy principle


Could a sufficiently detailed computer simulation of consciousness replicate consciousness? In other words, is performing the right computations sufficient for artificial consciousness? Or will there remain a difference between simulating and being a conscious system, because the right computations must be implemented in the right way? From the perspective of Karl Friston's free energy principle, self-organising systems (such as living organisms) share a set of properties that could be realised in artificial systems, but are not instantiated by computers with a classical (von Neumann) architecture. I argue that at least one of these properties, viz. a certain kind of causal flow, can be used to draw a distinction between systems that merely simulate, and those that actually replicate consciousness. Since this property is instantiated by all systems that conform to the free energy principle (not just conscious beings), the account on offer here can be extended to draw a distinction between simulating and being a certain type of system, more generally. In particular, this may inform meta-ethical accounts of artificial moral status and artificial moral agency.



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Minds, brains, and programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Troubles with functionalism.Ned Block - 1978 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9:261-325.
A computational foundation for the study of cognition.David Chalmers - 2011 - Journal of Cognitive Science 12 (4):323-357.

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