I placed an essay,’Decoupling of sensation, emotion and thought from consciousness — referring to Yuval Noah Harari’s view about consciousness in Homo Deus’ in Essays in English

I placed ‘Decoupling of sensation, emotion, thought from consciousness‘ in ‘Essays in English’. I copy preface of the essay. 

Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow (Yuval Noah Harari, Vintage, 2017) is describing a history and some possible future of humankind as like his former article Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari, Harper, 2014). But Homo Deus is paying more attention on the prediction than Sapiens.

One of scenarios he described as the possible future of humankind is that the AI which excels humans largely in intelligence will emerge and the most of humans will become almost useless for managing society. After reading such prediction, I had felt some emptiness and meaninglessness toward the past efforts of humankind in history. But he also says, “If you don’t like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materializing.” (Homo Deus p.461) Then in the end of his book, he suggests that readers should investigate next questions.

1. Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?

2. What’s more valuable – intelligence or consciousness?

3. What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves? (ibid. p.462)

 The first question is whether living things including humans are merely physiological systems which can be completely explained as algorithms for solving problems. If the positive answer were obtained to the question, the electric systems which have the same algorithms as humans have would be able to substitute humans in almost all works in society and the most of humans might become useless and they might even be extinct finally.

But he believes that no matter how similarly robots become to behave like humans or no matter how AI excels humans in intelligence they would not be able to have consciousness. Then in second question he demands that you should consider in detail about the consciousness itself which AI and robots will never be able to have. And in third question, he says that if you concluded that consciousness had some irreplaceable value you should imagine the appropriate society before you accept the society which deals humans useless.

 Then to reply his suggestion I shall investigate consciousness in this article as follows. First, I would make a view about consciousness referring to the ideas described in Homo Deus. Then to make the view clear I would compare it with views about consciousness thought by famous thinkers – David J Chalmers, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ken Wilber. Finally, based on the view, I would survey the future again.  By the way, the most impressive topic for me in Homo Deus is the decoupling of intelligence from consciousness. Harari thought as follows. If unconscious AI could have advanced intelligences which had been considered only conscious humans can have, then the consciousness and intelligence would become to be dealt separately. I thought that the topic could be developed to the idea of decoupling of sensation, emotion, and thought from consciousness, because I think that intelligence can be seen as a part of thought. Then I decided the title of this article ‘Decoupling of sensation, emotion and thought from consciousness‘.

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