Is “artificial consciousness” possible?
While it’s easy to believe that the brain is a computer and that, because we know how to manufacture computers, we must be able to create artificial consciousness, this is not the case. The human brain is undoubtedly a processing device: it receives input from the senses, analyzes it according to a set of rules (which are also processed), and then generates output for our muscles depending on the information received. Computers effectively perform the same function. However, we must acknowledge that the brain is involved in more than just processing. What happens when a brain generates a mind is the essential question—and the challenge we face.
Making something that looks like a brain or performs like a brain is one thing; making something that feels like a mind—or even feels at all—is quite another. It’s feasible that we’ll be able to create something with an architecture similar enough to our own brains that it will be capable of producing self-awareness, but will it be conscious? Or will it simply go through a series of complex algorithms?
Artificial consciousness may remain a science fiction concept for all time, or it may one day be coined by some as a word for sentient machines.