Would it be possible to make a machine conscious? Obviously I am not going to solve this, but what if we played with the idea. Lets say that consciousness is:
1. Attentive memory – a space of memory that is attentive to things from the outside. It can be distracted, redirected by strong input from outside.
2. Continuous attention – a continuous attention to things over time
3. Private attention – a thinking that is not accessible in the same way to others
4. Reflective – an attention that can take itself and its short term contents as subject for attention
5. Associative – a thinking that brings in new items by association. Note that the associative process is outside consciousness – it feeds consciousness but isn’t of it.
6. Willful – a thinking that can control itself to some degree, but not totally. The control emanates in balance from consciousness.
7. It would think of its thinking as I, itself.
So can we create a program that would fit some of these characteristics. It would serve no purpose other than to run continuously. It would manage a space of memory not accessible to others. It would be capable of being distracted, of making associations, and of willfuling responding.
Such a program could have these features:
1. It would have spiders to help it listen to the Internet.
2. It would build a long term memory based on what it thought. This would be the source of associations.
3. It would have an association module that would provide it with associations for patterns.
4. It would have a will module to will to direct towards certain associations and to respond in ways.
5. It would have a blog to capture its musings.
6. It could be passed things to think about, but could chose to ignore them.
7. It would just run and be. There would be no way of knowing what it was really doing at a given time.
Of course it would be a thought experiment, both for itself and for others. How would you know it was thinking or not? How would we know it was conscious? What questions would it’s existence ponder or answer?