The Language of Mind

David Chalmers [8.8.19]

Will every possible intelligent system somehow experience itself or model itself as having a mind? Is the language of mind going to be inevitable in an AI system that has some kind of model of itself? If you’ve just got an AI system that's modeling the world and not bringing itself into the equation, then it may need the language of mind to talk about other people if it wants to model them and model itself from the third-person perspective. If we’re working towards artificial general intelligence, it's natural to have AIs with models of themselves, particularly with introspective self-models, where they can know what’s going on in some sense from the first-person perspective.

Say you do something that negatively affects an AI, something that in an ordinary human would correspond to damage and pain. Your AI is going to say, "Please don’t do that. That’s very bad." Introspectively, it’s a model that recognizes someone has caused one of those states it calls pain. Is it going to be an inevitable consequence of introspective self-models in AI that they start to model themselves as having something like consciousness? My own suspicion is that there's something about the mechanisms of self-modeling and introspection that are going to naturally lead to these intuitions, where an AI will model itself as being conscious. The next step is whether an AI of this kind is going to naturally experience consciousness as somehow puzzling, as something that potentially is hard to square with basic underlying mechanisms and hard to explain.

DAVID CHALMERS is University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University. He is best known for his work on consciousness, including his formulation of the "hard problem" of consciousness. David Chalmers's Edge Bio Page

Remembering Napoleon Chagnon

Napoleon Chagnon
1938 - 2019

Chagnon's extraordinary body of work will long be mined, not just by anthropologists but by psychologists, humanists, litterateurs, scientists of all kinds: mined for . . .  who knows what insights into the deep roots of our humanity? —Richard Dawkins

[ED. NOTE: Renowned anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon was most widely recognized for his study of the Yanomamö tribes in the Amazon. He was a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri, and the author of Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes—the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists. On June 6, 2013, he was joined by his colleagues Daniel C. Dennett, David Haig, Steven Pinker, and Richard Wrangham in a two-day celebration of his work and career in a special Edge event entitled “Napoleon Chagnon: Blood Is Their Argument,” with an Introduction by Richard Dawkins.]

On Edge:

Napoleon Chagnon: Blood Is Their Argument       
An Edge Special Event [June 6, 2013]


Darkness’s Descent on the American Anthropological Association: A Cautionary Tale by Alice Dreger [Springer - Human Nature, 2011 Feb 16]

A Year of Conversations

[ED NOTE: Everybody’s busy these days. That’s why we have August. So, take the time to check out the EDGE conversations you may have missed that have taken place on these pages over the past 12 months. —JB]

(Conversations): Neil Gershenfeld · Frank Wilczek · Timothy Taylor · Tom Griffiths
Alison Gopnik
 · Robert Axelrod · Barbara Tversky · Caroline Jones · Freeman Dyson
Andy Clark
 · Stephen Wolfram · Daniel Kahneman · Rodney Brooks
Alexander Rose
 · Ian McEwan · David Chalmers & Daniel Dennett · Michele Gelfand
Freeman Dyson
 · Lisa Mosconi · Susan Schneider
Jonathan Rodden
 · George Dyson · Elaine Pagels
Peter Galison
 · Paul Allen/Eddie Currie · Karl Sigmund · J. Doyne Farmer

Summer Reads


[ED NOTE: The late biologist Ernst Mayr once noted that "Edge is a conversation." And the "content" of Edge is the more than 1,000 people who have connected in this way over the last twenty-two years. There is a new set of metaphors to describe ourselves, our minds, the universe, and all of the things we know in it, and it is the intellectuals with these new ideas and images, those scientists and others in the empirical world doing things and writing their own books, who drive our times. We are pleased to present our summer reading edition, consisting of the published books by members of the Edge community in the past year or so. —JB]


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