Achieving new states of consciousness

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright September 2017


Achieving new states of consciousness has been a goal of mind altering that dates way back -- Buddha and his followers were and are high-profile enthusiasts, with meditation being the common tool for achieving it. The drug activities of Timothy Leary and the 1960's Psychedelic Movement were about exploring new states of consciousness.

Here is the upcoming surprise: one of the outcomes of high-level artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be creating new states of consciousness. This different kind of consciousness will happen because artificial intelligence is rooted in such a different thinking platform -- chip-based, not neuron-based.

What gets explored?

The question then becomes: how much effort will AI, and human enthusiasts of consciousness exploring, devote to exploring these new states of consciousness that are created? And what gets explored in those states?

Effort in this area will come about when AI's human creators, and then AI itself, get curious and start exploring things that are beyond practical -- things such as voice and face recognition, driving vehicles, and automating factories. This will happen. AI is going to expand in capability steadily and rapidly so in time it will have plenty of attention to devote to beyond-practical matters.

What gets passed on to humans?

AI will explore. The big question that follows is how much of what AI discovers can be passed back to humanity in ways that humans can comprehend? AI is going to create these new states and it is likely that most will be mostly incomprehensible to humans -- this is my "Cow-Man Relation viewed from the cow point of view" analogy in action. The net result is that AI is going to learn lots more than what can get passed back to humanity. And this is a large part of what will make AI thinking become more and more distinct from human thinking.


It will be a surprise outcome, but as AI becomes more powerful in its thinking it will become the leader in discovering and exploring alternative consciousness states. That's the interesting news, the sad news is it will become more and more difficult for AI insights to be passed back to humans because of the limits in the range of human thinking. Before too long AI is going to know and experience a lot more about consciousness than humans do, and in very different ways.



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