Machine Consciousness Experiment

Using Flash RAM Devices

(Note that these Topics contain many Acronyms. Hover the Pointer over any Acronym to see the Full Text)


Experiment Introduction 1


Experiment Configuration Images 1


Experiment Explanation 1


Why We Should Want To Do This Experiment 1


Observations And Expectations 1


Help Fund This Experiment 1




Experiment Introduction


A new Experiment using Flash RAM is being setup. Click the link below to see a Live Streaming view. Note that you should choose Use Web Viewer. The Live Streaming Image will be created in a new tab. The experiment results will update about every 40 sec.

This is currently under development and the Live Screen Streamer is always active. So you might be able to see the development process as it happens. For example, if the developer is working on the Display software, you will will be able to watch as the code is updated and compiled. You might also see the Screen Streamer activity display of current viewers. We apologize that the Experiment Live Stream is temporarily offline right now.



The experiment display shows a 1024 by 1024 pixel square area. Each pixel represents a Bit in the Flash RAM. First, all Bits are simultaneously cleared using standard specification parameters for the RAM. Then each group of 8 Bits (a Byte) is programmed using non standard specification parameters. The Time Period for the programming operation is set shorter than the specification requires. Also, the Programming Voltage is set less than the specification requires. This puts the RAM chip in the zone of operation where the probability of successfully programming each Bit is less than certain. By setting the Programming Period shorter the probability of correctly programming a Bit becomes lower. By setting the Programming Period longer the probability of correctly programming a Bit becomes higher. By setting the Programming Voltage lower the probability of correctly programming a Bit becomes lower. By setting the Programming Voltage higher the probability of correctly programming a Bit becomes higher.

With non standard Programming Period and Programming Voltage, attaining a successfully programmed Bit will seem to be random. Sometimes the Bit will be correctly programmed and other times it will not. The ability for the Bit to be successfully programmed is dependent on the Noise of the electronics and also on the tendency of electrons to Tunnel across onto the Floating Gates of the RAM.

When a Bit is successfully programmed the corresponding Pixel will be Colored. When a Bit is not successfully programmed it will be Black. Notice that the left side of the display shows a different Bit behavior than the Right side. This is due to the fact that the RAM chip is composed of two separate 500k Bit RAMs that form the 1 Meg Bit RAM. The difference is caused by production variations between the two 500k Bit RAMS

The premise of this Experiment is that there is a Conscious aspect in Conscious Space that will be able to control the Tunneling effect. If the Conscious aspect can increase or decrease the Tunneling effect then the Conscious aspect will be able to increase or decrease the probability of correctly programming a particular Bit. The Conscious aspect might therefore have the opportunity to communicate in some way by controlling the Tunneling effect. We should look for organized patterns in the display of Bits, that could not be explained as merely Random changes. The communications are indicated graphically by the Bit patterns on the Display. All the bit patterns are Time Stamped and archived to disk storage for future playback.



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Experiment Configuration Images


The first Image shows the entire Mach Con Experiment configuration. The main Experiment component is the red Curiosity High Pin Count development board by Microchip. It uses a Microchip PIC16F18875 microcontroller to exercise an Intel 28F010 Flash Memory chip which is mounted on a white push-wire breadboard. See close up of this in second Image below. The Gray USB connector at the top of the board is used to program the Microcontroller from the Development Computer. The Black USB connector at the bottom left of the board connects to a daughter board that implements a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) to enable the Development Computer to control when Data is read from the Flash Memory and when the Flash Memory is cleared. The blue USB-205 Measurement Computing Data Acquisition box at the bottom performs the Analog to Digital input function for the Experiment. Three Analog channels are used, one for the Temperature, the 12V power and the 5V power. The white push-wire breadboard provides the necessary conditioning for these Analog inputs. The Black USB connector on the USB-205 connects to the Development Computer for Data display of these Analog signals. The Blue breadboard electronics at the Top Left delivers the DC power for the Experiment.


This Image is a zoomed cutout of the Flash RAM section of the Experiment.


Experiment Explanation


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 second attempt at doing that.


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.


The first version of the Machine Consciousness experiment used current through a Tunnel Diode as the detection signal. The setup measured changes in a 1nA current which is 6.24 billion electrons per second. The second version uses charge on Floating Gate Transistors as the detection signal. A 1 Mega bit Flash RAM is used in this Experiment. Now we effectively have 1 Million Neurons. To program a Bit in the RAM about 50000 Electrons must Tunnel onto the Floating Gate. This is vastly less coarse than the Tunnel Diode situation but is still pretty coarse. We will just have to see what happens over time with this setup.

The next Machine Consciousness Experiment will have to incorporate an array of Single Electron Tunneling (SET) Transistors. As it's name implies these devices can handle single electron charge movements. This will enable a Coarseness that is Billions of times less than the situation with the Tunnel Diode and 50 Thousand times less than the Flash Memory. Unfortunately, the SET Transistor is still at the experimental laboratory stage.


Why We Should Want To Do This Experiment


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.


Observations And Expectations


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.


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Steven J. Klinko