Cognizant Machines: A What Is Not A Who

AI takes its place among and may conjoin with other multiple intelligences.

In the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, noema is the meaning we assign to the object of a thought through a directed “sense” of perception that represents reality in our minds. This mental act of intent — to take what we know and apply it to unfolding experience — is, for him, the core of consciousness.

To further explore that notion in our contemporary context, Noema has curated a debate over whether and how this human way of apprehending the world around us can become a quality of machines through general artificial intelligence.

Three recent essays by leading technologists and philosophers register where we are in pursuit of general AI — at least to the extent we understand what we’ve discovered about what differentiates our own mind from intelligent artifice of our own creation.

“At the heart of this debate,” write Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Meta, and NYU postdoc Jacob Browning, “are two different visions of the role of symbols in intelligence, both biological and mechanical: One holds that symbolic reasoning must be hardcoded from the outset, and the other holds it can be learned through experience by machines and humans alike. As such, the stakes are not just about the most practical way forward, but also how we should understand human intelligence — and, thus, how we should pursue human-level artificial intelligence.”

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