In the wake of AlphaGo’s amazing success in the past week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about artificial intelligence. To me, mastering Go is an incredible feat – but what really fascinates me is the issue of consciousness, and all of the things that human consciousness entails.

Will computers ever develop “common sense”? Will they ever develop an appreciation for art and beauty? Will they ever be able to feel empathy? These are all questions of emotion, but I think they tie into consciousness very nicely.

My personal belief is that consciousness is the byproduct of some process in our brains, and since the brain is a biological machine, consciousness is a process that can be simulated. A recent Gizmodo article on AI sums up my view very well:

AI skeptics are unconvincing when they say it’s an unsolvable technological problem, and that there’s something intrinsically unique about biological brains. Our brains are biological machines, but they’re machines nonetheless; they exist in the real world and adhere to the basic laws of physics. There’s nothing unknowable about them.

I adhere strongly to this view. My friend suggested that randomness could play a big role in consciousness, which is certainly an interesting thought. However, since I’m also a determinist, I still doubt that this is a block.

Although AI certainly leaves plenty of concerns to be cautious of, the ever-increasing role that computers play in our society will be driven by advances in artificial intelligence. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!