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Why is awareness of itself such a point when speaking about AI? Does it always mean a starting point for apocalyptic nightmares to occur when such a level is reached or is it just a classical example about what could be a really abstract thing that machine cannot easily posses?

I would sleep my nights far more calmfully if the situation was the latter, and I understand the first does not automatically happen. The main thing I would like to discover is the starting point - which approach came first historically? Or is there another view point in the historical first occurrence of self awareness term?

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    $\begingroup$ Chimps, Elephants, Dolphins and other animals are suspected to be self-aware (by measures such as the mirror test). Either that means you will sleep less calmly fearing the dolphin apocalypse, or that there is a more nuanced interpretation of the term than the now classic sci-fi trope of machines "awakening". I'm hoping someone with some background on research in this topic can answer . . . $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2019 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ quora.com/Is-self-aware-Artificial-Intelligence-possible has 65 answers claiming whether self awareness can be achieved or not. This is a hot topic and visions of the results vary a lot. I wanted to know what is the origin for such a hype for such a feature of AI. $\endgroup$
    – mico
    Oct 7, 2019 at 15:45

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Neil Slater has it right, there most probably is no fear of AI self awareness as some starting point of evil series of things to happen.

Wikipedia [1] puts self awareness talks to sci-fi section, among stories, not a real thing. Self-awareness is among a list of terms that tries to make machines or aliens similarly human than ordinary people and uses that as a method of story telling.

Self-awareness or other humanlike skills that we posses that the machines don't have yet and will not have in near future can twist minds and make a seed of conspiracy theories, but at least the exhaustive Wikipedia overview on topic did not speak anything about AI.

Maybe the concept of humanlike behaviour materialises on our minds as a term of self-awareness but my source puts the origin to different category.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

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