Seeking Delphi: SXSW minicast #2, Can We Create Consciousness in a Machine?

My first foray into the SXSW mega festival and conference has been a memorable one.  In covering the Intelligent future track for Seeking Delphi™ and Age of Robots magazine I’ve been able to meet and mingle with some of the smartest thinkers on the planet.  The post below is re-blogged, containing links to two podcasts recorded and produced on site in Austin.  I also had the amazing experience of gaining a personal interview with tech guru whurley (William Hurley).  That will be posted in the next couple of days and will be expanded into a feature in Age of Robots.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”–Albert Einstein

For anyone who has watched the HBO series Westworld,  the questions about creating machine consciousness run much deeper than “can we.”  These include,  should we?  How will we treat it?  How will it feel about its station as artificial life?  Will we be able to control it, and is that ethical?  And most profoundly,  how will that change what it means to be human?  The questions go beyond ethical to existential, and they were all addressed in the SXSW Intelligent Future track in a panel titled Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine? Not surprisingly, there were two techno-philosophers on the panel to explore these issues.  They are David Chalmers, with NYU’s Center for Brain an Mind Consciousness, and Susan Schneider, with the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Connecticut.  This session was part of the IEEE Tech for Humanity series at SXSW.  My thanks to Interprose and IEEE for helping to arrange the interviews.

In this Seeking Delphi™ minicast,  I speak with both of them about some of these issues.   The third panelist mentioned in the podcast is Allen Institute physicist, Kristoff Koch.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

David Chalmers

Susan Schneider








Special Edition SXSW 2018 mini-cast #2.

YouTube slide show of  Seeking Delphi™ SXSW 2018 minicast #2

In case you missed it, the YouTube slide show link for SXSW 2018 minicast #1, on covering sessions on quantum computing and self-driving car safety, is below.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler


  1. Very interesting Mark!

  2. Nearly two decades ago, I retired from my career as a computer programmer and consultant. I wrote AI software as part of an experimental project in innovation. The terminology we used back then in reference to AI was “knowledge-based system” and “inference engines.”

    Since then, the technology has obviously progressed quite dramatically. However, from my professional understanding, AI cannot be equated with self-awareness, and it is not “life.” What AI does is rely on the rapid advances in computer speed, storage capacity, and interconnectivity (i.e. internet) in order to access vast stores of information and utilize complex algorithms to make choices on specific problems. This process might appear “intelligent” to us humans, but a more accurate descriptor would be “sophisticated.” And, no matter how sophisticated computer software becomes, it is only capable of following the instructions and rules programmed into it by people. Innate emotionality and moral judgements are out of the question.

    • The panelists in this session were pretty adamant that classical, digital computing technology will not do it. The solution will need to be something else. May neural networks, maybe quantum computing, maybe something yet to be developed. When willit happen? Sometime between next year and…never.

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