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[04.06.2024] Eric Schwitzgebel: The Copernican Argument for Alien Consciousness; the Mimicry Argument Against Robot Consciousness (with Jeremy Pober)

[04.06.2024] Eric Schwitzgebel: The Copernican Argument for Alien Consciousness; the Mimicry Argument Against Robot Consciousness (with Jeremy Pober)

Seminar with  Eric Schwitzgebel (University of California, Riverside)

The Copernican Argument for Alien Consciousness; the Mimicry Argument Against Robot Consciousness

Abstract:

When confronted with behaviorally sophisticated robots or aliens, a particular pair of default attitudes is justified. Toward aliens, the appropriate default attitude is to attribute consciousness.  We defend this view on broadly Copernican grounds.  According to the cosmological principle of Copernican mediocrity, we do not occupy any special position in the universe.  Copernican mediocrity, we argue, would be violated if, among all the behaviorally sophisticated entities that have presumably evolved in the universe, we humans are among the rare few who also happen to be conscious, while the rest are nonconscious “zombies”.  Toward behaviorally sophisticated robots, the appropriate default attitude is skepticism or uncertainty about their consciousness.  We defend this view with a mimicry argument.  Robots that behave in ways we associate with consciousness are normally designed or selected primarily to mimic consciousness.  While the effective mimicry of consciousness might in some cases require corresponding consciousness beneath, there’s no compelling reason to think this is generally so.  Thus, we will argue, the alien and robot cases are asymmetric.  Even confronted with similarly sophisticated behavior, it's reasonable to be more skeptical of robot than of alien consciousness.

 

 

The seminar will be a hybrid meeting. It will be held in Auditorium on Bracka 12, Kraków and Teams on June 4th, 2024 (Tuesday, 16:00 GMT+1). 

This research was funded by the Priority Research Area Heritage under the program Excellence Initiative – Research University at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow