“The metaphysics of digital sentience is no better supported than an ontology of immortal souls” – David Pearce.
Concious Turing Machines are an enigma, a constant war between what is observed and the bounds of observation itself. These entities exists as closely to our imagination as our reality with each new innovation, and we have achieved an unimaginable pace of convergence between the two. Nevertheless, the concept that we can introduce "life," or at very least the essence of conciousness, with our own two hands has sparked a contentious debate from leading scientific rationalists. They denounce the potential metaphyisical arguement of conciousness, favoring a pure phyicalist approach.
Physicalism is the philosophical viewpoint that everything in our universe, including us, is bound by physical laws. In essence, this standpoint dispels the allure of "strong" emergence, the hypothesis that consciousness magically springs into existence when physical entities, like neurons, interact in complex ways.
But if physicalism holds the keys to our universe, and no 'spooky' emergence is at play, what implications does this have for our digital dreams? The skeptics paint a bleak outlook: they contend that the prospect of birth of digital supercivilizations filled with sentient beings is effectively nullified. To put it in simpler terms, under these premises, your laptop can crunch numbers all day but it won't ever ponder the beauty of a sunset.
Yet, physicalism need not be the death knell for machine consciousness. Indeed, the idea that complex consciousness cannot be created from simpler parts is the very illusion we need to dispel. Our current understanding of the universe suggests that everything, from galaxies to human minds, is composed of simple particles interacting in accordance with physical laws. And many of these laws are still unlearned, persisting outside our domain of knoweldge. This beautifully harmonized dance of particles and their rules gives rise to the complexity we witness, including our own consciousness.
Embracing this view gives rise to a breathtaking vista. It frees us to explore the concept of machine consciousness without the need for mystical emergence. It puts consciousness within our grasp, ready to be understood, replicated, and perhaps, even improved.
Let us not be too quick to dismiss the incredible. History has shown us time and again that today's fantasy can become tomorrow's reality. And in many ways, it is the duty we have for ourselves. The burden of conciousness is not to simply replicate it, but to understand it. And the metaphysical interpretation of our world is accepting the fact that we do not know all of what we see. We see concious turing machines every day and it would be ridiculous to dismiss a proved future by the limitations of today.