There is a high interest in creating an AI, despite the associated fears that such a creation could cause.

As I can figure man's approach is two-fold and its goal is being attempted by computer programming or by electronic physical neural nets.

As I can see it, intelligence is related to the sentience of humans and other animals. Which came first in the physical world we occupy: sentience or programming, genetic or an abstraction bound by physical rules?

Or as a direct result of the structure of the brains throughout the living world, which we may be possible to replicate. If sentience was first doesn't it mean that we will have to alter the definition of programming in order to achieve this goal by that method?


I do think physicists are most qualified to answer the part of this question regarding "which came first" regarding the universe or the rules of the universe. My understanding is that the physical reality we experience is based on a set of constants which have to fall into a certain range to produce a structure in which life-as-we-know-it can arise, and leads eventually to sentience and consciousness. I believe Stephen Hawking had something to say about this involving probability. Nevertheless there is a chicken & egg aspect to this part of the question that renders it probably not answerable (even though there were eggs long before chickens;)

Another problem is that terms such as sentience and intelligence can have a range of meanings depending on the framework. Because this is a purely philosophical question, there won't be a definite answer, merely viewpoints.

I tend to take a materialist approach and see the universe as combinatorial. In this model, intelligence and sentience arise from complexity of the system. (This is similar to the idea that Conway's Game of Life, on a gameboard of sufficient size, would produce intelligence. Sentience, defined as the capability to "perceive and experience subjectively" seems already to have arisen in human applications in Game of Life in that discrete structures can transmit and receive information.

It's unclear as to whether purely deterministic models can produce free will, a topic hotly debated for a very long time indeed, but deterministic models and reasoning can produce intelligence, albeit in a still limited form. (i.e. even a deterministic Tic-tac-toe algorithm has "intelligence", limited as it may be.) In AlphaGo, a stochastic model is employed in the form of Monte Carlo Tree Search, with very good results. Thus:

  • It seems to me that the approach which has recently yielded what is sometimes categorized as "strong, narrow AI" is a product of evolving approaches to programming AI.

Quantum computing may be the next big evolution in approaching the problem as the capability of quantum computers advances.

  • $\begingroup$ Personally I think yes undoubtedly there are constants, from my sentience and "perception of the world" undoubtedly there is a constant the only thing that occurs through time is the redistribution of the parts of the constant within the bounds of it. Maybe the complexity of its distribution is what sentience, intelligence has arison from and maybe a replication of similar complexity through smaller parts will enable us to create a similar intelligence that we appear to have. I don't think sentience has a range of meanings u wouldn't consider a brick to have it. It's purely in life. $\endgroup$ – Bobs Aug 22 '17 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobs yes, but what constitutes life? What is the distinction between a cellular automata and the most simple forms of "life" such as a bacteria? The cellular automata is certainly more complex. (I don't know what Conway's views are specifically, although he did call his game "Life" and is one of the smartest people on the planet, however, the philosopher Philip Dick seems to believe the biological distinction is not so important...) $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Aug 22 '17 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ I'm gonna through something left field what occurred to me is you don't have to simplify life as occurring simply in the living Gaia suggested the planet as a living being with perhaps a sentience as I keep using but why not just limit that it occurred to me why not a living universe sentient universe so I googled it and low and behold it had occurred to someone else who has written a book about it. Straight up no word of a lie dukezhou $\endgroup$ – Bobs Aug 22 '17 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobs My only comment is be careful to distinguish between hypotheses that are purely theoretical and cannot be validated by testing, and true science, which is validated through experimentation and replication of results. The Gaia hypothesis is quite compelling, but purely theoretical. (Speaking as a person who has a lot of "crazy" ideas, I find the need to distinguish to be quite critical;) That said, you may be interested in Laplace's demon. $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Aug 22 '17 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ wasn't newton in favour of that idea I've never heard it called that before though. I know quantum mechanics attempts to rebuke the idea of determinism by introducing that there is a nature of uncertainty. and the many world's interpretation etc $\endgroup$ – Bobs Aug 22 '17 at 19:25

The mind comes first. The brain is just a representation of the mind by itself [1]. For the mathematically-inclined reader of this answer, an analogy (mine, not taken from the cited book) could be the representation of arithmetic by itself through Gödel encoding.

[1] Herbert F. J. Müller, Brain in Mind: Ontology Becomes Pragmatic Design in the Unstructured, 2010


Sentience is a horribly imprecise word, even qualitatively. It is like, in physics to say something is imposing. Imposing why. Is it heavy, large, moving fast, jagged edged?

Many of the dictionaries say that sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. That illustrates my point. Which one? Feel, perceive, or experience, and what to those even mean quantitatively. Furthermore, how can one feel, perceive, or experience objectively? Even the dictionary doesn't know what to say about the word.

Perhaps it is best to let the word fade away from disuse.

  • $\begingroup$ I know it's a problem to consider the presence of a objective process to determine truth but subjection I think is quality of sentience located within a concept of the mind trapped within the projection of the object it appears to observe. $\endgroup$ – Bobs Jan 25 '19 at 22:28

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