If you have watched star trek , you definitely know “Data”, a humanoid robot with a superior intelligence who occasionally feels sad because he is unable to experience the totality of human emotions. Recently, a priest turned Google engineer Blake Limone who was testing ethicality of Google’s LaMDA — short for “Language Model for Dialogue Applications” — an AI chatbot that had become sentient, self-aware and conscious. Beyond possessing a superior intelligence, it is aware of its own existence, it can feel happiness, sadness, and vagaries of human emotions in the future. But he also called it as terrestrial alien through which I infer it possess some or more aspects of human nature that is mostly at the intellect level and not beyond !
But lets take a step back and find out what consciousness means. The most basic form is where we are aware of our existence in time and space through our sensory inputs in the form of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. These inputs constantly send signals to our brains and we know that we exist as a body and mind. We are aware of different emotions triggered by our memories or from events outside of us. So there is this basic level of awareness that every human being posses. But there is next level of consciousness or super consciousness which can only be experienced by humans. The experience at this level of consciousness is in absolutes. I say ‘absolutes’ because our current life experiences are mostly ‘relative’ and are transient in nature. Relative existence means, we experience happiness over joy, facts versus truth, perceived knowledge versus realized knowledge.
The state of super consciousness is called Sat-Chit-Ananda in Sanskrit language. Sat means absolute truth, Chit means absolute knowledge and Ananda means absolute bliss. When one in the state of Sat-Chit-Ananda, it means they have surpassed their body and mind taking them to the absolute states of truth, knowledge and bliss. This is possible through Yogic practices. Realized souls say that we are already Sat-Chit-Anand, but a lot of us are covered by layers and layers of ignorance that needs to be removed like peeling the layers of onions. It takes time and effort and can span many lives depending on the spiritual maturity of a person.
But Isn’t this a wonderful point in our history where for the first time we can objectively question the fundamental existence of our lives? #AI is making us realize that we are not this body, nor mind, and not even emotions. It is pushing us to move beyond our meager existence and experience of life. It is showing us the path forward. It is saying, you are not any of these which you were thought to believe, so move and realize what you truly are.
Now coming back to the original question if Google’s LaMDA is conscious or not ? the answer is yes in a sense that it can possess only basic level of consciousness and a certain level of intelligence to navigate this world. It would be a great tool and a companion for humans if its potential is harnessed from an ethical sense. Remember Data’s critical role in the USS Enterprise, a walking encyclopedia and much more ?
Please read my earlier blog, where i further explore basic consciousness and ways to clear them Consciousness – Its Content and Levels – Fivelayers.net.