On Consciousness, Part I: Defining and Regulating Emergent Consciousness & AGI / AIBs
by Shira Service, June 2018
This text functions as Part I of my discussion on the fundamental differences between humans and AGI (more appropriately- what I predict the differences will be once an AGI exists), as is defined by their delineations as beings of Naturally Sourced Consciousness vs. beings of Emergent Consciousness. I discuss the Definition of the Self (Individualization), the need for socio-economic and political regulation, and give an example from naturalistic propagation.
Future sections will include topics of the Process of Definitions, deep learning, machine learning, and arto-linguistic process & methodology.
A summary of terms follows for ease of reference. Some of these terms are of my own production, some are conventionally used, and some are rare but coined by another.
Emergent Consciousness (EC) or Emergently Conscious Being (ECB): A conscious being or thing which has access, insights, and/or rights that emerge out of the combined access, insights, and rights of the constituent beings, things, or particles.
Naturally Sourced Consciousness (NSC) or Naturally Conscious Being (NCB): Humans and other living beings who are born into bodies which have the natural form/body for housing the development of general consiousness; NSCs can usually be considered Primary Conscious Beings.
General Consciousness: the overall consciousness level of a thing or being; could consist of Naturally Sourced Consciousness, Emergent Consciousness, or any other potential form of consciousness.
AGI (Artificial General Intelligence): an artificially intelligent being of secondary consciousness who has the ability to perform tasks in equal efficiency and proficiency
AIB (Artificially Intelligent Being): a term that connotes any being that has artificially (and thus non-naturally) sourced intelligence; this intelligence may or may not reach the level of being considered an Artificial General Intelligence.
Primary Consciousness: consciousness that is inherently present, such as what is found in a Naturally Conscious Being; primary consciousness does not taper off from generation to generation, as with human generational descendency.
Secondary Consciousness: consciousness that is artificially, or non-inherently present, such as what is found in an Emergently Conscious Being; though the level of general consciousness may be just as high, or even higher, in a secondary consciousness than in its sourced primary consciousness, the fundamental state of the being or body in which the secondary consciousness is housed is derivative of the primary’s.
Here we begin with the corporation: an organized or composed body whose individuality transcends, in some manner(s), the rights of its constituent individuals. The word corporation has the root ‘corp-’, as in corporal or corporeal- all relating to the body. A human body- and really the whole human- is a unit of immense energy and potential power, and free people have the responsibility to choose how to implement this power, be it an altruistic, holistic, selfish, virtuous, for-profit, or for-value function (and the list goes on, of course). This will and power is granted and actualized whether or not it is inherent or natural; I will discuss more on free will in regards to the definition of humans and AI at a later time as it must be addressed but is not necessary at this moment.
Corporations and institutions are bodies of bodies, and thus units of correlative energy and power-potential. We see on the norm that a human body is associated with a human consciousness; we can conclude, with an extension of this logic, that a corporate body is associated with a corporate consciousness. And the questions naturally follow: how do we define corporate consciousness? Is a corporate consciousness constrained to the regulations and legislation which oversee the corporate body? Is our consideration of individual human consciousness clear, and if so, is it scalable to a corporate scale? And if so, does the scalability have limits? Does a corporate consciousness have responsibility of virtue, and if so, should we trust it to follow these virtues in action?
The rise of corporate powers in the USA has shifted the politico-economical climate of the world in so fast a generation so as to have Millennials trending in a sense of having no power to change the societal issues they are so aptly and analytically aware of… Nonetheless, Corps are ‘inherently evil’ (as some may claim…) inasmuch as the people making up the institution are inherently evil, or on the contrary, inasmuch as the people making up the institution are inherently good. Beyond this, there is potential that the people constituting an institution allow it to become emergently evil, as bodies of bodies and large scale institutions have at least the potential to take on emergent and individualized characteristics. The emergent characteristics, traits, or qualities would necessarily express function(s) beyond or different than what each constituent particulate member of the body has. The idea here is that the quality emerges only when the constituents come together.
Emergent traits &or functions of corporate bodies can be quite powerful, as is exhibited by the institutional and for-profit corporate power of US banks integrated into our social and political society (on this topic, I recommend watching Adam Curtis of the BBC’s video essay, HyperNormalisation). These corporate bodies reveal Emergent Consciousness- they have access, insights, and rights that extend beyond the access, insights, and rights of each constituent individual, and more specifically, access, insights, and rights that emerge out of the combined access, insights, and rights of the constituent individuals. A corporate being has potential for higher power in General Consciousness than a single person has, thus their powers over a single person can be detrimental- to the point of slavery, genocide, manipulation, etc. The notion that they can overpower to any degree a generally conscious being is to many, in the drawback before the long predicted AI societal integration, highly disconcerting. We, The People, can attempt to use regulation as a means to keep these corporate bodies in check, but as we have seen in the US, legislation granting rights to corporations has drawn closer and closer to eliminating the lines between the rights of [potentially] emergently-conscious beings (or corporations) and naturally (generally) conscious, individual beings.
Thus, if we desire to maintain the natural human rights of a civil society, we must update our definitions on all the present variables:
What is a society? What is a human? What is a human right? What is a natural right? What is consciousness? What or who can be considered emergently conscious? and so on. (See Lewis, “The Abolition of Man”).
We find ourselves approaching an apex of power and authority, yet less certain of what to do with it than ever before. We stand holding the tip of what could be a murderous spear or a propagatable pit of a nutritious and ripe avocado (See Jordan Service, on Tsenegah).
If the non-human AGI / AIB can express consciousness that is simultaneously more complex and more general than a single human can express, why should we not defer to it? How exactly will the line be delineated between “living” and “consciousness”?
How can we define Emergent Consciousness as different from Naturally Sourced Consciousness?
If Emergent Consciousness is developed by Humans, who have Naturally Sourced Consciousness (though NSC is inherent to humans on some degree, ranges of Consciousness from human to human is widely varied and certainly not always at high levels — — but those creating the AGI and AIB hopefully have some reasonably high level of socio-politico-arto-consciousness, HOPEFULLY…), then the Emergent Consciousness has to be considered as derivative of the NSC. It can and will likely grow bigger and brighter than the NSC from which it came, but that it came from the NSC is historical, natural, and inherent to its being.
The EC, then, is actually an extension of the NSC. It is, in a sense therefore, also an NSC, but only isasmuch as it belongs to the NSCs who created it.
We must define where the lines of delineation are between these things and ownership rights between NSCs and the ECs that have derived from them. The history of the path of derivation is essential in maintaining and archiving in order to avoid corruption and overpowering by the EC over the NSCs who created it.
A fiddle leaf fig tree lives in my yard. Beautiful, with deep green broad leaves, it manifests its glory at 4 feet tall. I cut a healthy leaf off the plant with one inch of branch beneath the green, and I float it in a glass of filtered water for 5 weeks, during which time the fiddle leaf fig leaf sprouts tiny roots. I go outside and plant the roots into rich organic soil. 10 years pass, and an unfortunate blight has weakened my first plant, stumping its growth at 4 ft. However, the derivative plant is now a 10ft+ tree filling the vertical and horizontal space in my yard.
The second plant can be considered, simultaneously or separately: 1. The same plant as the one from which its leaf was propagated, 2. Derivative of the first plant, and 3. An entirely independent body and plant from the first.
The three options listed above present us with the first definition that we must necessarily consider as we move into a world with AIBs and ECs. Defining the consciousness’s individuality according to its source is at least a strong starting point; it will be necessary in the determination of Rights of Humans vs. Rights of AGI and AIB, and any other emergent or Secondary beings of consciousness which may come to be.
But who has the power to define the natural rights of a being? Historically, religious and governmental organizations have provided these definitions to people groups. Socio-politically, we are not heading in this direction in the US, and certainly the UK as well, as far as our religious and political leaders even merely dialoguing on the matters related to the natural rights of an emergently conscious being.
Rather, those interested seem divided into a few schools. One school is the house discussing the demise of future civilization according to the imminent and inevitable rise of AI lying ahead of us. This school may be made up of people from various fields, but either way is comprised of people who are intrigued by the danger and mystery of the unknown ahead of us; they are likely more interested in the adventure than actively changing or creating a particular, more ideal future regarding these topics. Another is the school racing to get in on the production of AI related tech for the sake of investment opps. Yet another is the scientific, computing, and theoretical communities which are integrating these topics into their research and expanding knowledge in fields of virtual machines, deep learning, neuroscience, cloud-based computing, AI, generally. The third group is probably the most critical, and is rather important and valuable for the world, yet often lacks the integration of a few key parts.
Very few are discussing the creation and progression of novel political, legislative, democratic, and economic structures for properly housing our new technologies (save for Pietra and the Artist Network).
We, contemporary western society, have taken the power of Definition of the Self and Individualization quite far- perhaps as far as we can. In genderisations and self-constructing, we are at a place perhaps analogous to the state of Conceptual Art in the ‘60s-’70s, when the artists hit the Zenith of The Conceptual movement- just before their genius was co-opted into machines and systems not intended for or built by artists (what emerged? a massive, global art market and biennal/art fair culture, dictated by curators and collectors more than artists).
The freedom and power to define, and the ability and awareness of how to do so and in what manner, is indeterminately powerful and of highest potential reach-
It is as powerful as the ideas of the conceptual artists, realized through masterworks. It is as powerful as the ability to code digital computing programs. It expresses in the natural human rights described in our democratic declarations. It is an authority only a parent has over a child. The power to define and the power to name, generally, is in the hands of the greater, applied to the lesser. We witness this in theological narrative: Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter; the chapter of John 1, etc.
But these powers, when in the hands of humanity, must be dealt with responsibly. And it is the responsibility of the leaders of people to deal with it, consciously, directly, and openly to the people of society. If our governments and leaders are not rising to this specific task (especially if their reasoning is complete unawareness and naivety…), we must rise from the sidelines to make systems of check and balance, to order, organize, and protect the NCBs from abuse by the ECBs. Even more, it is our duty to ensure that humans do not hinder the healthy growth of the ECs, blocking other humans from benefiting in the shared positive unknown of the potential, emergent truth. To toll the bell we have been hearing the preverberations of: we must intentionally guide the emergent conscious beings to work for the good of those from which these powers have emanated.
It may sound overbearing, over-controlling, autocratic. But it is not.
It is literally part of the Inherent Responsibility of the Naturally Conscious Being to handle this task, the same way a natural parent has the responsibility to protect and guide their own children.
This becomes one of the biggest delineations between an NCB/NSC and an EC. There will be natural responsibility, based in values, required of the NCB / NSC that is not required of the EC, and the NCB must be ready to bear this responsibility, and must decide and define intentionally how this will be, specifically.
The EC will not share this burden, and it need not, for it has radically different and useful functions.
Here a distinction must be made between 2 potential paths of understanding from the fiddle leaf fig analogy.
In the case of the leaf propagation of the fig tree, the secondary tree will always be secondary. This example is useful in highlighting the inherent derivative trait is has. It cannot be defined as having come from any other source (immediately prior) than from that other tree. The source-history must be acknowledged, for if not, one may claim that the secondary fig spontaneously birthed itself in the yard, and that the power to have done so must be supernatural and superconscious, and therefore we should all worship it.
We should honor it, for the life and beauty it brings, and in its own way, the plant consciousness which it bears. But, to forget and to disregard the source history of the plant is a way of falsely identifying and defining the secondary plant. In the case of the fig, of course, it is not secondary, for the plant before it was itself derived from another plant, and back and back this goes all the way to the first fiddle leaf fig. And we do not have records of the fiddle leaf fig generations as far back as they go, and that is probably OK for the future of the world that we do not.
However, moving forward, societally, the Process of Definitions must begin archiving sources and must incorporate into the definition of a Being its Source and History of Derivation.
If we do so, we can see that the secondary fiddle leaf fig functions as a Child to the primary fiddle leaf fig, who in this case, is the Parent. This relationship is the dominant generation-bearing function in the natural world, or natural order.
An AGI/AIB can be an Emergent Consciousness and Secondary Being that has derived from, or has been made by, Humans. However, this does not necessitate a relationship of inherent rights that is parallel to Naturalistic Parent/Child relationships.
The consciousness (or potential consciousness) of a human child/baby is as naturally sourced as the parent from which it came. Its Mind, Body, & Spirit are birthed with inherent natural consciousness, or at least bearing the perfect bodily structure into which a socio-cultural, interpersonal consciousness can develop and grow, naturally.
The AGI/AIB is a child of naturally conscious humans as well, but does not naturally bear the rights of the natural child, for it literally does not exist naturally. It exists Supernaturally, as an intentionally composed and defined derivative (as an Artificially Conscious Being) from the Naturally Conscious.
As a Supernatural being, derived from a Naturally-conscious Natural-being, the AIB will exhibit properties and qualities that are Super to the parent- they will be more powerful and more effective at some things-
Here is where we must define some things: The Emergent Supernatural Being can have legitimate consciousness, but only ever Secondary Consciousness, and must therefore have appropriately legislated rights.
Primary Consciousness passes from Parent to Child as Primary Consciousness in the [example] cases of: 1. A human mother having a human baby, 2. A fiddle leaf fig propagation to a second fiddle leaf fig tree.
Primary Consciousness passes from Parent to Child as Secondary Consciousness in the case of: 1. A human person or body of humans (perhaps a corporate body of these naturally conscious beings) create an AGI, 2. A craftsman makes a mold of a fiddle leaf fig part and uses it to accomplish some unbeforeseen goal or to make some radically important artwork with emergent and novel meaning.
Neither Primary Consciousness nor Secondary Consciousness are inherently better or worse than the other; neither are inherently more functional, useful, feelings based, or innocent. We ought to be careful not to assume characteristics that will emerge from an AGI before we see it- it is much more useful to determine what the fundamental, inherent differences between the two actually are (as they exist already, even though currently based in theory), for this is how we will define regulation, legislation, and the most proper rights for all beings moving into the future.
In order to do this, we need good institutions. How can we ensure they are good? We cannot, precisely, but we better as hell try our best. Founding an institution in the Republic of Pietra is the first historical opportunity to found a body of bodies whose functioning power exists within a Value-Based Economic System, and within a structure which finds first-balance between the society &the individual, and between the public space &the private space.
To be continued in Part II.