Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced — Soren Kierkegaard
Good scientists study the most important problems they think they can solve. It is, after all, their professional business to solve problems, not merely to grapple with them — Sir Peter Medawar, The Art of the Soluble (1967)
Mysterianism and consciousness are vast topics to cover in a small article such as mine. At a fundamental level, Artificial Intelligence (AI) seeks to understand human consciousness. However, there is a school of philosophical thought called ‘mysterianism’ which postulates that humans can never truly understand consciousness. Ever. This article looks at mysterianism, its main proponents and ends with a question-what is the future of AI if we cannot understand consciousness?
A Rather Confusing Concept
In simple terms, consciousness is similar to awareness and yet it is absolutely confounding. The concept of consciousness is multi-faceted and therefore it becomes a matter of different perspectives. A scientist may have a different definition from a philosopher. In that sense, it is like different blind men touching different parts of an elephant and having their own opinion on what it is. Consciousness is a giant elephant in the room as far as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is concerned. On a very spiritual note, it aims to answer a fundamental question : can humans imbue artificial life to robots? Collectively, we are very far from definitively understanding consciousness but we know that it requires an approach beyond science. When physicists moved from classical to quantum physics, it opened a whole new quantitative doorway. As per wikipedia, consciousness may have a determinative role in quantum mechanics. Since consciousness is the primary aspect of an observer, and observation is viewed as a primary reason for wave function collapse,consciousness may account for aspects of the measurement problem exemplified by the Schrödinger’s cat paradox. This area has been an area of lively debate for decades, with…