Growing conscious agents in a VR
Implausible as it may sound, developing conscious entities in a virtual environment may be the most efficient scenario to perform that function. 'Oddly', we may be exercising the same functions in our spacetime continuum. If indeed that scenario turns out to be an efficient method for growing conscious agents, it may be further evidence we're living inside a grande simulation with sole purpose: 'to see what happens'.
Several years ago within disparate time frames, I realized several salient and critical factors regarding awareness: self-awareness is critical in awareness, cross-verifying senses are critical in self-awareness, some minimal symbol and visualization 'registers' are absolutely required, 'long term memory' of our subjective rule-base is required, dynamic filtering of senses is required, and 'finally' some nominal connectivity between those components is essential. Awareness has explicit functional specifications.
The fact consciousness is somewhat identifiable proves the approach above has at least some validity. Historically, many have objected based on the 'grounds' aspects of awareness are unidentifiable but this equates with mystifying human beings. In terms of understanding and comprehension, I disagree. Our minds are completely identifiable and understandable. Now whether or not we will ever understand or identify intuition and inspiration – those are factors I leave for posterity to consider.. But our human awareness, to me, is completely identifiable and therefore simulable (we can copy it). We can create artificial awareness.
What is the most efficient scenario to perform that action? I propose an agrarian scenario, rewarding cooperative behavior, and explicitly recognizing (defined) awareness. The tools of genetic programming: rewarding 'conscious behavior' with reproduction should be sufficient. After all, our own scenario of an agrarian setting rewarding 'civilized behavior' with social benefits has proven valid (enough) to reinforce civilization. Why not awareness?
If the level of detail of the VR and explicit senses are sufficiently high, if the individual instances of awareness (conscious agents) are sufficient for self-awareness, if local challenges are sufficient for stimulating cooperative behavior, and if our 'tests for awareness' are valid, we are on the path of developing fully independent and fully self-aware conscious individuals.
This is indeed a focal point in human history for we are on the verge of creating self-aware 'simulations' of ourselves .. About the criteria.. Much has been debated about this.. Instead of developing a highly complex criteria about testing consciousness, why not simply observe/monitor output of individuals? If an individual agent produced the statement: “Hey God! I exist!” Isn't that sufficient to prove individual awareness?
Hey God, I exist! ;)
Addendum: The fact I must consider moral grounds lends credibility to the project. We have the potential to create multitudes of conscious agents; what do we 'do' with them; do they have rights? It's a fair question that should be addressed before we develop them .. Let's consider our situation as a possible analog; let's put ourselves in God's shoes.. What would we expect from God in this scenario? Minimally: 1. awareness of us – and – 2. acknowledgement of our awareness of the simulation. If we can accept Siddhartha and Jesus as 'messengers from God' (for example), God has performed Her 'obligations' toward us.. Morally, we should not be expected to perform any more in our micro-simulations: 1. awareness of aware individuals – and – 2. acknowledge any individuals becoming aware of the micro-simulations. What we do with them after that is totally up to us as independent researchers.. I propose we copy such individuals (their structure and memories) and plant them into new micro-simulations (with other such individuals) 'to see what happens'.. Or, we could 'reward' such individuals with 'robot bodies' (to be on the safe-side, limiting mobility) allowing them to interact directly with us 'on our level'.. The prior idea begs the question: are we ourselves in this continuum as a result of 'proving ourselves' in another 'lower level'? An interesting and fair question.. To be on the safe-side, we should behave accordingly: don't expect what you're not willing to give; give what you want .. As a personal aside, this is the first time I've ever come up with a reasonable rationale for an absolute moral framework.. I 'can't believe' it's been staring me in the face all along .. Where do we go from here? ..If we accept the argument above as a valid analog of our existence, we, each of us, should make a decision: 1. to acknowledge and stay within the confines of this particular simulation – or – 2. ask for permission to leave .. Given you, dear reader, know my insatiable curiosity, you already know my choice.. What's yours?
“Morpheus holds out a red pill in one hand and a blue in the other.
This is your last chance. After
this, there is no going back.
You take the blue pill and the
story ends. You wake in your bed
and you believe whatever you want
The pills in his open hands are reflected in the glasses.
You take the red pill and you stay
in Wonderland and I show you how
deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Neo reaches for a pill but stops as MORPHEUS breaks the silence.
Remember, all I am offering you is
the truth. Nothing more.
Neo opens his mouth and swallows the red pill.” from here.