(Note that these Topics contain many Acronyms. Hover the Mouse over any Acronym to see the Full Text)
The experiment Track color will change every 15 minutes. Note that an image of the Experiment Screen will currently be saved every 3 hours. The screen is then cleared and the Track color sequence is started again. The Ball will be moved to the center of the screen for the new run. The following is an example of experiment Track results. The Animated GIF below runs about 675 times faster than the actual experiment.
Note that the Experiment is currently not active due to a planned upgrade for the hardware and the software. The Experiment will be offline until funding is obtained for the needed electronic improvements that will drive the Second Generation of this Experiment.
This Machine Consciousness (or Artificial Consciousness) Experiment is motivated by concepts from The Inter Mind Model of Consciousness. The Inter Mind Model separates the Mind into three functional components. The first component is the Physical Mind (PM) which corresponds to the Brain and exists in Physical Space (PSp). The second component is the Conscious Mind (CM) which does not correspond to anything in PSp. Instead the CM exists in a separate Conscious Space (CSp) which we do not fully understand yet. We can only suspect that it exists because we can not explain things like the experience of the color Red, for example, with PSp explanations and concepts. The two things we do know about the experience of the color Red is that when Red is being perceived by the Mind, 1) certain Neurons fire in the the PM, and 2) the color Red is experienced in the CM. No one can explain how we get from Neurons firing to the experience of Red. So it is logical to propose some sort of Inter Mind (IM) that performs the interface function between the PM and the CM. The IM probably exists in PSp and also in CSp to make the connection. Even though it's not necessary for an understanding of the Experiment you can read the The Inter Mind paper if you would like to learn more.
Some computer scientists and mathematicians believe that, when their programs and processors become complex enough, their computers will somehow burst into volitional self aware consciousness. Some also believe that this will all happen in PSp without any need for CSp. Maybe so, but I think Machine Consciousness will only be possible when we understand how to connect our machines to CSp. This will enable Conscious Volition which for Machines will have to be called Artificial Volition or Machine Volition. This Experiment is a first attempt at doing that. The Experiment incorporates a type of electronic device that operates based on Quantum Tunneling (QT) theory and, for the purposes of this Experiment, the device will be called a QT Device (QTD).
Scientists are starting to explore the Quantum Mechanical aspects of Brain function. The Wikapedia page for Quantum Consciousness says: The Quantum Mind or Quantum Consciousness group of hypotheses propose that Classical Mechanics cannot explain Consciousness. It posits that Quantum Mechanical phenomena, such as Quantum Entanglement and Superposition, may play an important part in the Brain's function and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness.
A premise of Quantum Physics is that Consciousness affects the outcome of experiments that involve Quantum States. Scientists are of course implying that it is their Consciousness that affects the experiment outcomes. This opens the door to the thought that there is a CM aspect that exists and this Consciousness can act through Quantum Mechanical principles to affect things in PSp, specifically the PM.
For Humans, Neurons contain structures called Microtubules that operate based on Quantum Mechanical principles. If a CM is able to sense the state of a Human PM by sensing the state of the Microtubules then the CM might have the ability to sense all Neurons in the Human PM at the same time. For Vision the CM might be able to sense the state of the Visual Cortex areas in order to experience what the Visual areas are currently Seeing.
For Machines, there are no Neurons but there are Transistors which operate on Quantum Mechanical principles. What if a CM could sense the state of the Transistors in an electronic circuit? A TFT (Thin Film Transistor) Display Monitor has a Transistor at each pixel location. Maybe a CM can sense the state of all these Transistors in order to See what is currently displayed on the monitor. This is similar to how the CM senses the Visual Cortex in Humans. This situation could also work for camera chips and CMs. It may be the case that millions or billions of CMs have been experiencing what's going on in the world through Transistors for many years already. But these CMs have not had any way to affect anything in PSp because we have not designed the Volitional interfaces yet. We attempt to implement a Volitional Interface in this Experiment
For the Volitional Interface, the Experiment uses a QTD that controls a small Modulated electrical bias current using QT principles. The thinking is that some CM in CSp will be able to affect the QT effect in the QTD. The QT effect is connected with the Wave Function of the bias current electrons. So the CM will need to affect the Wave Function of these electrons in such a way that makes it easier to Quantum Tunnel (increase the bias current) or harder to Quantum Tunnel (decrease the bias current).
The QTD is set up so that small variations in the QT effect will show up as small changes in the Modulated bias current. The current changes are amplified by a Trans Impedance (current to voltage) amplifier with a gain of 100,000,000 (10^8). So small current changes can result in large voltage changes. The bandwidth of the channel is a pass band between 1 Hz and 40 Hz which basically covers the usual frequencies for Brain Waves. The bias current Modulation is at 6 Hz which is in the middle of the Theta band of Brain Waves.
The voltage changes are digitized by a small Data Acquisition system and input to a Tablet Computer through a USB port. The software establishes an average value for the voltage which always has a background noise component. The system consists of two channels each of which is controlled by a separate QTD. The output of one QTD is used to control the Horizontal movement of a small white flat Ball on the Tablet's display screen. The other QTD is used to control the Vertical movement of the Ball. If the Horizontal channel output voltage goes above a certain threshold the Ball is programmed to move to the Left proportional to the magnitude above the threshold. If the voltage goes below a certain threshold the Ball is programmed to move to the Right proportional to the magnitude below the threshold. In between these two thresholds the Ball is stationary. The other channel output operates with the Vertical axis in a similar way. Voltage changes above a threshold move the Ball up and voltage changes below a threshold move the Ball down. Combinations of outputs from the two channels can control the Ball to trace out any path on the screen. Note that the software prevents the Ball from going off screen. The Ball will stay at the edge of the screen until a control input causes it to move away from the screen.
The colored Track keeps a record of Ball movement over a period of time after which a screen shot of the Experiment is saved to disk. The screen is then cleared and a new color is used for the Track. Different time periods will be used and the value will be noted in the text above the Experiment screen. The Color changes are synchronized to occur at the top hour and then every time period after that. An archive exists containing thousands of these screen shots representing hundreds of operating hours for the experiment.
The electronics at this stage of development is at the breadboard stage. It has been shown to be affected by some outside interferences in the past. The electronics is now enclosed in a metal shielded and thermally insulated environment to minimize the interference effect. Overall the configuration is fairly stable at this point.
The 6 Hz Modulation is generated by the Tablet and sent to the electronics using the Data Acquisition System. The Ball, the Tracks, and the Bounding Box on the Tablet screen are Modulated by the same 6 Hz signal that Modulates the bias current for the QTD. The Live Stream broadcasts at 1 Hz and the software insures that all objects on the screen are "on" when a screen shot is captured so that the Live Stream does not appear to blink. This is done so that the Live Screen image is more stable when the Live Stream is sporadic, as it often is. But the actual image on the Tablet is always blinking at 6 Hz and is in phase with the Modulated bias current to the QTD. The the position of the Ball is also updated at the 6 Hz rate so the movement is much smoother than the Live Stream shows.
The Tablet display screen is a TFT type. So there is a transistor at each pixel location on the screen. An image on the screen will energize the respective transistors on the screen. Since transistors operate using Quantum Mechanical principles it is possible that they naturally connect with CSp and that the image on the screen can be received and perceived by some CM in CSp. This is the Graphical feedback aspect of the Experiment. Note that the image on your Primary Visual Cortex, which is just a folded screen, probably connects to CSp in a similar way.
The 6 Hz Modulation ties all these things together so that some CM in CSp might perceive the pattern on the display through the TFT technology and notice that it is Modulated at the same frequency as the QTDs. It may then notice that when it affects (if it can) the QTDs that the Ball moves accordingly.
In terms of The Inter Mind Model the PM is the electronics including the Data Acquisition System and Tablet computer. The IM is simply the QT effect, and the CM is an unknown but anticipated aspect of the Experiment.
It is unknown what kind of CM might be involved in the Experiment. It is probably at the level of an amoeba because it does not have access to any information at this point. But this amoeba has access to a 2 dimensional Graphical view of the Experiment results. We have to think of the situation as some pure CM that has no knowledge of anything just blindly existing somewhere in CSp. It might really be nothing more than a potential CM. Then all of a sudden the Modulated Experiment screen appears to the CM. The CM might then become aware of the Modulated QTDs and maybe eventually realize that it can affect the Experiment results by affecting the QTDs. All these discoveries by the CM might take some time to happen. So we probably will have to let the Experiment run for an extended period of time before we can come to any conclusions.
Of course the question will come up as to why we would want to do an Experiment like this in the first place? It's because Consciousness is the 800 lb gorilla in the scientific room. It can not be explained by any known Scientific principles at this time. I think we have to start somewhere and this is an attempt to show the feasibility of conducting such an Experiment. If we can understand how to make a computer Conscious then maybe we will be able to understand how our Consciousness works a little better. This Experiment could be the first step toward understanding, if not how at least that, we might be able to transfer the Consciousness of humans to machines someday.
We do not really know what benefits there will be if a Conscious aspect is added to our machines. Maybe over a period of time with Experiments like this we will find out. For Vision it will mean the difference between the Machine just crunching image algorithms and the Machine actually Seeing. I think the Machine must See before it can truly be Conscious. We move around and avoid obstacles in this world because we See obstacles as a Conscious experience. Machines today do not See so they must do many more computations to avoid obstacles, and when they do avoid an obstacle they don't even know they did it. It's still all very mechanical right now no matter how sophisticated the algorithms might be. Machine learning algorithms and Neural Nets sound good but no matter what the Machine learns it does not know it learned anything. We need to develop an Artificial Consciousness for our Machines to complement the Artificial Intelligence that is getting quite good. The 20th Century had the Space Race and maybe the 21st Century will have the Conscious Space Race.
Some of the movement of the Ball is probably due to low level noise in the electronics which gives the resulting Track a Random Walk looking characteristic. But there are other motions where the the Ball seems to take off as if prompted by something that is not random. There are also symmetries that sometimes appear in the Track graphs that do not seem random. All these could be due to electromagnetic interference of some kind or it could be changing temperature effects or it could be due to a CSp effect. If it is due to a CSp effect then we might expect some movement of the Ball that seems Volitional and Directed. For example a CM might want to control the Ball to go left and right or up and down across the screen a number of times. The symmetries might be an indication that some CM is acting here.
It might require an extended amount of time for the Conscious connections to be made. At this point it's all about waiting to see if it will do something interesting.
It would be nice to find a way to motivate the CM, that is participating in this Experiment, to do something. We know that Pain and Pleasure are Conscious experiences that motivate us so these must be implemented in the Experiment. If for example the CM could be made to feel Pleasure when the Ball is located on the left side of the screen then that should motivate the CM to move the Ball toward the left side. Similarly, if the CM could be made to feel Pain when the Ball is located on the left side of the screen then that should motivate the CM to move the Ball away from the left side. But how to actually insert Pain and Pleasure into the Experiment is not known. Since we are Conscious beings that know Pain all too well I think we would not want to use Pain even if we could do it. Maybe if we could make the Ball feel some discomfort like Hunger we could motivate it to do something. Any thoughts on how these kinds of motivations might be implemented are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Steven J. Klinko