FRANKENSTEIN’S CREATURE OR COMMANDER DATA?
Gerald Edelman’s theory and several others ascribe consciousness and the power of thought to those complex interactions among the brain’s substructures.This points to the true importance of giving an artificial brain internal interactions such as arise between rational and emotional subsystems; namely, to copy the “tangled web” that seems to make human thought what it is. If this can be done, the next generation of artificial minds might surpass computer-bound think- ing by using different types of electronic brains—be they systems that carry out parallel processing or neuromorphic chips, adaptive chips, or other architectures that follow the brain’s peculiar nature.
GROWING UP DIGITAL
In addition to new designs for electronic brains, we might need some- thing more—namely, a new philosophy—to create fully capable syn- thetic beings. At present, an artificial brain consists of processor and memory chips whose capabilities are firmly defined and fixed, and software—also fixed—that guides the hardware. But this is not how the human mind works.Although a newborn baby has limited abili- ties it has one crucial set of capacities: It can observe, interact, remem- ber, and learn about the world.These efforts change the baby’s brain through the plasticity of its neurons, and over time, the child matures into full intelligence and personhood. The child’s interaction with adults plays a large role in this because it encourages adults to react to the child and teach it, and the social contact itself is necessary for selfhood to develop. Physical interaction is equally important. Just watch a tot experiment with reality as it learns to walk or carries out the experiment of throwing food onto the floor.
Brain plasticity could be emulated by appropriate hardware, such as adaptive chips. But knowledge of the world must be fed into those chips, and so artificial beings might actually need to grow into full consciousness and personhood—or to put it another way, to develop their varied intelligences—by engaging reality and socializing with people.From the psychological viewpoint,the social part of the inter- action is essential. Howard Gardner writes that “highly intelligent