Published on Thu Feb 13 2020

Functionally Effective Conscious AI Without Suffering

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Insofar as consciousness has a functional role in facilitating learning and behavioral control, the builders of autonomous AI systems are likely to attempt to incorporate it into their designs. The extensive literature on the ethics of AI is concerned with ensuring that AI systems, and especially autonomous conscious ones, behave ethically. In contrast, our focus here is on the rarely discussed complementary aspect of engineering conscious AI: how to avoid condemning such systems, for whose creation we would be solely responsible, to unavoidable suffering brought about by phenomenal self-consciousness. We outline two complementary approaches to this problem, one motivated by a philosophical analysis of the phenomenal self, and the other by certain computational concepts in reinforcement learning.