The feasibility of artificial consciousness through the lens of neuroscience

1 Jun 2023  ·  Jaan Aru, Matthew Larkum, James M. Shine ·

Interactions with large language models have led to the suggestion that these models may soon be conscious. From the perspective of neuroscience, this position is difficult to defend. For one, the inputs to large language models lack the embodied, embedded information content characteristic of our sensory contact with the world around us. Secondly, the architecture of large language models is missing key features of the thalamocortical system that have been linked to conscious awareness in mammals. Finally, the evolutionary and developmental trajectories that led to the emergence of living conscious organisms arguably have no parallels in artificial systems as envisioned today. The existence of living organisms depends on their actions, and their survival is intricately linked to multi-level cellular, inter-cellular, and organismal processes culminating in agency and consciousness.

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