Nautilus

Here’s How We’ll Know an AI Is Conscious

Zombies are supposed to be capable of asking any question about the nature of experience. It’s worth wondering, though, how a person or machine devoid of experience could reflect on experience it doesn’t have.Photograph by Ars Electronica / Flickr

The Australian philosopher David Chalmers famously asked whether “philosophical zombies” are conceivable—people who behave like you and me yet lack subjective experience. It’s an idea that has gotten many scholars interested in consciousness, including myself. The reasoning is that, if such zombies, or sophisticated unfeeling robots, are conceivable, then physical properties alone—about the brain or a brain-like mechanism—cannot explain the experience of consciousness. Instead, some additional mental properties must account for the what-it-is-like feeling of being conscious. Figuring out how these mental properties arise has become known as the “hard problem” of consciousness.

But I have a slight problem with . Zombies are supposed have. In an

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