WMUH 2018 Yuval Noah Harari

“What Makes Us Human: From Genes to Machines”, June 2018, Jerusalem:

Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Consciousness

Yuval Noah Harari, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The merger of biotech and infotech results in the rise of artificial intelligence that is outperforming humans in more and more tasks. It is likely that in the twenty-first century computers will become more intelligent than humans in many fields. Computers are even likely to develop emotional intelligence, and become capable of recognizing and manipulating human emotions. Computers may thus become better psychologists, better politicians, and even better poets than us. However, so far there is absolutely no indication that computers will develop consciousness. We must not confuse intelligence with consciousness. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems. Consciousness is the ability to feel things, such as pain, joy, love and anger. In humans, the two go together. Humans solve problems by feelings things. Science fiction movies generally assume that in order to match and surpass human intelligence, computers too will have to develop consciousness. But there might be several alternative ways leading to super-intelligence, only some of which rely on consciousness.

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