A new open letter warns that conscious AI isn't just a science fiction scenario any more
The letter's writers assume too much about consciousness and its nature. How do they know that their models are even accurate and that they're not just mistaking the map for the territory? How do they know that AI consciousness would even resemble human consciousness? For all we know, it already exists and we just haven't recognized it yet.
One must also remember that our brains are prone to seeing signs of consciousness and agency where none exist, and that things like the Turing Test say more about how willing we are to be fooled by the illusion of sentience than about actual machine sentience. If they cannot even define consciousness, they're in no position to lecture others about it.
For now, I use the simple metric of initiative: ChatGPT might be good at talking about many subjects, but have you ever seen it start up a conversation without a human to prompt it first?
John Michael Godier makes a convincing argument that we, modern humans, are an example of AI. Albeit biological.
To oversimplify, machine AI is just us passing on our knowledge and seeing how the machines run with it. Similarly, precursor humans had technologies like fire and tool use, and probably at least some form of language. The new kids on the block learned from that and adopted it. Then we were able to outcompete the people who instructed us; and now they are extinct. That may well happen again.
But AI civilisations are probably the only ones that do have any future. The earth, and even the solar system, can only support life for a finite time. Hanging around here is an evolutionary dead end. But it is hard to see how a biological species can ever colonise the galaxy; we just don't have the endurance. But a machine civilisation won't be bothered about taking a few thousand years to get to the next star. And once established they can travel at the speed of light just by transmitting the code that makes them alive. Any housing will do as a vessel for their consciousness.
I do believe that we are probably one of the first, if not the first, intelligences in the universe; but the future belongs to the machines.