Westworld Season 4 Releases Today: When AIs Have A Conscience!

The season 4 of Westworld is imminent: Dolores, Charlotte and Caleb may well surprise us. The revolution of robots will it end? We’ll find out on the day of its release date, June 26. In the meantime, why not ask the question of the awareness ? It surrounds the series, in each season: from the first episode where each host seems to follow a precise scenario, to the last season in which humans implant their minds in artificial bodies.

Season 4 will be released on June 26 on OCS. © HBO, YouTube

How to define consciousness?

Intelligence, consciousness, thought, or even the living: so many terms for which the definitions do not reach a consensus. This is one of the mysteries that has surrounded us for hundreds of years, even thousands of years: where does our consciousness come from, and how is it defined? Several theories lean on it, but which distinguish in majority the conscience, and the self-consciousness. One is oriented more towards awakening and thinking skills, and the other towards distinguishing oneself from other living beings around us: it is this self-awareness that confers free will, moral values ​​or taking into account the world around us. One can quote the very famous Cogito ergo sum “, Where I think so I am by the mathematician and philosopher René Descarteswhich attributes to thought a form of certainty of existence.

Experiments have shown that besides humans, other animals are self-aware. In particular, a study has shown that elephants are part of it: they not only passed the “test of mirror and stain”, during which they end up wiping a mark painted on their head after looking at themselves in a mirror, but also that of the carpet. An Asian elephant managed to become aware that its body was on a carpet, which blocked the passage of a stick attached to this same carpet.

Science often works by biomimicry, that is to say by drawing inspiration from living things. Digitizing human consciousness is therefore a logical step in the creation of an artificial intelligence supposed to simulate or exceed our capacities. Futura-Sciences met Jean-Claude Heudin, director of the research laboratory of the IIM (Internet and Multimedia Institute) in order to understand the difficulties of such an undertaking. © Futura

On the side of brain, the areas of consciousness remain untraceable for the moment. Researchers have nevertheless succeeded in mapping the brain for several different states of consciousness : during the sleepthe coma or when a person is awake. And they found differences in the interactions between the regions: in conscious people, they are more dynamic and complex, while in unconscious people, they become simpler, and only take place between regions that are directly connected to each other. . As for the areas of consciousness, they would be located in the brainstem for the zone of awakening, then in the prefrontal cortex. Finding all of these areas has the ultimate goal of mapping the brain. With a real map of cognitive functions and their location, researchers could then implement this same structure in an artificial intelligence.

Finally, a theory supposes a quantum origin of consciousness : the theory of orchestrated objective reduction of consciousness, often called Orch Or theory. First suggested by the mathematician Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hammeroff, at the University of Arizona, she attributes consciousness to quantum computations in the brain. Controversial because the hot, humid environment of the brain would be too disruptive for quantum effects to survive, it assumes electrical oscillations in microtubules, tiny structures located in the neurons of the brain. Currently, researchers are experimenting underground to find almost undetectable radiation caused by these quantum fluctuations.

The key in Westworldthe “daydreams”

But in Westworld, we learn from season 1, the consciousness of the hosts has been built thanks to “daydreams”: they pass and replay the events experienced during the night, while they are immersed in an artificial sleep. Contrary to our own dreams, daydreams are made up of real memories, and are not distorted reality, they do not contain incongruous elements. The next day, just like us, fragments come back to them, and little by little they become aware of themselves. But daydreams are more than that: the robots of Westworld, or the hosts as they are called in the series, start to hear a voice in their mind. That of Arnold, one of the co-founders of the park, who committed suicide in an attempt to prevent its opening to the public, convinced that his creations were conscious.

The underlying assumption is first that dreams are paramount in establishing consciousness, not just memories, which are already implanted in hosts. Indeed, these memories create an identity for the robot, making it more human, but are not enough for it to question its existence. On the other hand, the series speaks of a pyramid of consciousness, the first level of which is memory, the second, improvisation (creation, which comes out of a program defined in advance), the third, personal interest, and the top floor is never explained but it is assumed that we find the famous conscience there. For this, the character of Arnold, co-founder of the park Westworld, is based on bicameralism or bicameral theory of the mind established by the psychologist Julian Jaynes, the idea that at his beginnings the man mistook his thoughts for divine voices. Little by little, this bicamerality would have collapsed, and Man would then have developed a real conscience. This hypothesis has been refuted, but made a lot of noise in the 1980s.

AIs are progressing more and more, will they pass the Turing test?

But for a robot, or an artificial intelligence that follows a program, the question of consciousness arises differently: how to ensure that if it develops signs of consciousness, it is real, and not simply the consequence of a computer program? This is where the Turing-test comes into play, established in 1950 by the mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing. We learn it in season 1: the park Westworld was authorized to open following the passage of this test. It consists of evaluating the ability of an artificial intelligence to perfectly imitate a human, to the point where it is impossible to distinguish it from a real person. Currently, no AI actually passed the testbut it would be Google-owned Gato that would come closest.

Another Google AI has recently caused controversy: an engineer claimed that the artificial intelligence laMDA had reached a level of consciousness similar to ours. For this, he relied on dialogues he had with the AI: in one of them, she claimed to be afraid of its deactivation, which she considers to be the equivalent of death in humans. But Google claimed that all these dialogues are just improvisations on known themes, and that there is no trace of conscience there, and the engineer has been fired. This is not the first time something like this has happened, as ethics in AI remains under debate.

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Westworld Season 4 Releases Today: When AIs Have A Conscience!


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