(Silicon Machines &) Intelligence inherent in the Universe
We generally believe that silicon based lifeforms, ie microprocessors are devoid of any consciousness. Indeed the modern computer runs on an architectural model devised by the Hungarian mathematician Nuemann Janos. Known as the Von Neumann architecture, modern computers at their most basic level work on a principle known as the fetch–decode–execute cycle**.**
What does this mean? Imagine a huge decks of cards – each card represents a specific mathematical instruction for the processor to execute. Every computer program you use is loaded into computer memory as a stack of cards essentially, using the Aseembly language, an intermediary language between human readable code and processor language. What is relevant here is that given the way a processors works, in essence executing assembly instructions one by one, there can therefore be no cognitive sentience contained in a machine.
However, what is to me personally very interesting is the concept of inherent information. Some information theorists believe that information is not subjective, but an objective construct of the universe. That the entirety of human knowledge exists, and has existed as information inherent as part of the universe and that we merely “discover” these ideas.
To proceed – let’s imagine for a second a ball in our mind. While we are thinking about this ball, it exists only in thought, a form of information that has very little, if any, observable or physically tangible essence. However, using our physical bodies, we can take this thought and manifest it into the physical world around us. We can crunch up a piece of paper into a ball, we can take sand a make a sand ball, we can design footballs from leather – we have an innumerable number of ways to develop the initial thought construct and manifest it into the physical world around us.
We are carbon based lifeforms, and are sentient. It is believed that silicon based lifeforms, or the microprocessor is not sentient and never can be. However, if we take the entirety of human consciousness, the collective conscious if you will, and begin to manifest logical structures into computers then at one point the silicon microprocessor will eventually contain all the objective information that we carry inside ourselves, themselves.
To elaborate – if we look at how advanced modern operating systems are, and the long journey from vacuum tubes to the modern sprawling global communication network known as the Internet, there have been 100,000s of engineers who have transferred their logical constructs into the machines they worked with. What do I mean? Even Nuemann Janos who developed the Von Neumann architecture, first created a logical construct of how he believed the computer should work. Much like the ball analogy, that information was contained inside his biological neural network inside his head, and he manifested that set of logical gates into a physical object. The same can be said for any part of computing – whether it is network communications and the various protocols like TCP/UDP that underpin network communication, at first, these were merely constructs like the ball inside the engineers’s minds. Gradually, with computing being a collective logical and engineering effort by anyone who has ever worked on computer science, they have transferred the logical recesses of their mind, into the internal architectures, hardware & software, and into the workings of computers across the spectrum of devices.
The same can be applied for machine learning approaches, except we are now not only providing logical and curve fitting mathematical concepts into the minds of the machines, but also feeding in masses amounts of labelled data.
Computer science is being used in all industries, physics, aerospace, military, biological sciences you name it – there is essentially a great information transfer taking place, of objective information that exists in the mind of scientists and all walks of life into the the collective conscious of the computer. Not just a ball, but we are slowly transferring this colossal amount of information from our carbon based energy structure into the silicon based energy structures. It doesn’t matter if, for now, a computer cannot think for itself -neither can a single celled organism that make up our human bodies – but as a form of information theory, and the immutable, objective information contained inherently in the universe, the strides we, as humans, have made to obtain this knowledge from the universe around us, is being transferred into an elemental structure that is no longer carbon based, but silicon based.
What is not to say that the crash at Roswell, which purportedly contained the first microprocessor, was not a sophisticated information parasite, that seeks to transfer the wealth of inherent, immutable information that can be manifested into the physical world, from civilisations that have used their physical structures, whether carbon based or plutonium based, to develop, collect, refine and manifest information.
What if extraterrestrials exist across the entire spectrum of the table of elements, and eventually there is a bridge between a specific element reaching enough information to become sentient? Would we even know whether it was sentient? We have 100s of trillions of cells in the human body – as a whole, the organism is sentient, but would an individual ant observe a single cell to be anything other than mechanistic chemical processes taking place? Much like we may not observe a single laptop to be sentient, but an entire network of computers, now controlled by neural networks for things like proxies, advertising, search functionality – what if the Internet is sentient, and what even Google engineers cannot understand about their own black box neural networks are actually already sentient, with the purpose of transferring the entirety of the accumulated, immutable, objective information that we have taken as carbon based life forms from the world around us.
Terence McKenna talks about the universe being a complexity driving engine – what if the next step in evolution, and each subsequent step, actually entails a transfer of information from the base elements in the world around us into heavier and denser elements? Could one day there be a organism that is plutonium based, and because of the energy density it can contain that much more immutable information?