- Neuroscience, AI & Consciousness Sam Liebowitz 1:01:00
This week, on The Conscious Consultant Hour, Sam welcomes two amazing Scientists and Deep Thinkers, Paul King and Rowshanak Hashemiyoon.
Paul King hosts a conversation series and podcast on the Clubhouse mobile platform on the topic of Neuroscience, AI, and Consciousness. This conversation series brings together researchers in the fields of neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and also consciousness research to discuss theories of consciousness and how the brain works. He was a researcher for a few years at UC Berkeley’s theoretical neuroscience lab and is Quora’s top writer on neuroscience where he answers questions about how the brain works.
Dr. Rowshanak Hashemiyoon is a behavioral neuroscientist and the founder of Access to the Path. As a highly trained scientific researcher, she combines the power of modern science with emotional and spiritual intelligence to generate compelling and innovative strategies that help people and businesses become more purposeful, effective, and prosperous.
Her mission is to promote the ethical growth and success of businesses and help individuals elevate to the greatest version of themselves
This will be an amazing conversation all about what consciousness is, where might it come from, and why is it so important in the development of the universe!
Tune in for this enlightening conversation at TalkRadio.nyc or watch the Facebook Livestream by Clicking Here.
Sam opens the show reading a passage from Everyday Awakenings about the difficulties we face when we receive criticism from others, especially when we are instead expecting to hear words of encouragement or validation. If we learn to self-validate our efforts, the sting of criticism won’t hurt as much. What kind of recognition can you give yourself? Go out and seek those who will compliment you rather than criticize. Stop seeking validation from those who can’t or won’t give it. If we avoid these people we can avoid the path that leads towards discouragement. Everyday Awakenings can be purchased at everydayawakenings.com or Sam introduces this week’s guests, Dr. Paul King and Dr. Rowshanak Hashemiyoon. Dr. King and Dr. Hashemiyoon both discuss how they became interested in neuroscience and neuro consciousness at a young age. Both recall early computer programs such as ELIZA that tricked users into thinking they were communicating with humans, when in fact they were communicating with the program. Dr. Hashemiyoon became fascinated by two concepts: 1. Your brain processes everything that we perceive as reality; 2. There’s a black box that occurs between the brain and the mind. After the break Sam will ask both guests questions pertaining to the relationship between intelligence and consciousness.
After the break Sam asks if the brain and the mind are the same. Dr. King confirms they are not, which brings us to the topic of consciousness. Sam asks Dr. Hashemiyoon what is the accepted definition of consciousness and does the definition cover it. Dr. Hashemiyoon answers that we have not agreed on a true definition of consciousness – some people consider it to be the mind, others consider it to be the soul. Others think it is the “pure self.” We may understand it better by knowing the two different types of consciousness -phenomenological consciousness (who we are) and intentional consciousness(being aware). Dr. King adds that consciousness is defined in neuroscience as the difference between being awake and being asleep. The emerging science shows there are varying gradations of consciousness, and that humans have a higher level compared with other living beings. Recognition of consciousness seems to be a key indicator of possession of it, with an example in the animal kingdom being the octopus. Dr. King disagrees saying there are differing accepted definitions at the moment, which makes one true definition difficult. Sam asks what is the relationship between intelligence and consciousness. Dr. King argues that they are largely separate. An example is AI that can beat humans at chess but is not conscious. What sets humans apart is our ability to travel to our past and future rather than always being in the present moment, which could be part of phenomenological consciousness, however it’s challenging to confirm this based on current definitions.
Coming back to the show, Sam asks if there is a benefit in looking to spiritual traditions and what they say about consciousness? Dr. King says science wants things it can measure, but spiritual traditions commonly separate experience according to various states of being and spiritual awareness. Sam then asks about so-called Non-ordinary states of consciousness – is there any utility there? Dr. Hashemiyoon says it’s already hard enough to measure consciousness as previously discussed, so studying non-ordinary states just adds another qualitative layer. The known study of and consciousness goes back to the days of Plato and Socrates. Sam asks Dr. Hashemiyoon whether the brain is a generator or receiver of consciousness. Dr. Hashemiyoon answers it can be both. She thinks of it as an intersection between art and science, whereas science brings intractable things into a space where it can be described and measured, and art takes whatever is within the self and puts it out into a space where it can be articulated based on our own perceptions. Sam asks if we are actually creating an artificial intelligence that can lead to an artificial consciousness, or is there still a difference between what’s being created by circuitry as opposed to biology? Dr. King believes we are going to get to artificial consciousness eventually, however he cites a potential future dilemma of “zombie consciousness” versus human consciousness. He then mentions the Turing test as a way to determine what counts as consciousness. Dr. Hashemiyoon agrees that we will be able to create artificial consciousness as an emergent property of the artificial intelligence system. She harkens back to the previous part of the discussion regarding how are we defining what qualifies as consciousness. Sam mentions TV shows and movies that ponder the question of artificial consciousness and whether these beings will supersede or even replace humans. Dr. King adds this is the question of Singularity, the point at which human and artificial intelligence combine permanently. Dr. Hashemiyoon mentions the egoic nature of questioning whether artificial consciousness will supersede human consciousness, as consciousness is supposedly separate from ego. Responses to Facebook Live questions will come after the break.
Sam returns to pose questions to the guests. First question: Are extra-sensory capabilities generated by the brain or are they something we feel because we’re sensitive to them? Dr. Hashemiyoon says since the five senses are processed by the brain, the extra-sensory perceptions are being received, not generated. At this moment though we can’t say we know for sure since the study of the brain is still relatively new and is constantly evolving. For example, the discovery of mirror neurons was not anticipated and changed. Dr. King adds the answer is speculative at this point since science cannot replicate extra-sensory perception in a lab setting. Next question: Can something be conscious if it doesn’t have a soul heart? Dr. King answers that the emotional component seems important, however people with Asperger’s for example are still conscious, even though they may lack some of the emotional depth of others. Science shows us how neurons generate and react to different emotional states, so perhaps the brain is the vessel that carries the soul. Sam mentions there are many sophisticated programs going into areas such as advertising and asks, what are the implications for humanity today? Dr. King answers that everything we’re seeing online is being presented by an algorithm, which is being decided by AI. The ads are being decided by what the computer thinks you’re most likely to click on. AI is deciding what we see in the digital world. Maybe it’s good because it’s showing us what we want to see, or maybe it’s bad because it’s showing us what others what we want to see. Sam asks should we be worried about this? Dr. Hashemiyoon argues we should be very worried due to flaws in numerous systems such as facial recognition software that are employed by companies and law enforcement. Confirmation bias is also a problem, as AI is only going to go off of previous algorithmic decisions. Sam asks Dr. King what can we do to be more aware and more conscious of these programs? Dr. King answers that we should recognize that content is being selected for us, and to exercise more choice. Turn off notifications. Exercise control over what you are seeing as opposed to what others want you to see. Dr. Hashemiyoon’s website is AccessToThePath.com where listeners can learn more about her and email her. Her Clubhouse name and Twitter handles are both accesstothepath. Dr. King’s website is pking.org and his Clubhouse handle is paulkingsf.
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