Minds and Machines

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 303–309 | Cite as

Comments on “The Replication of the Hard Problem of Consciousness in AI and Bio-AI”

  • Blake H. Dournaee


In their joint paper entitled “The Replication of the Hard Problem of Consciousness in AI and BIO-AI” (Boltuc et al. Replication of the hard problem of conscious in AI and Bio- AI: An early conceptual framework 2008), Nicholas and Piotr Boltuc suggest that machines could be equipped with phenomenal consciousness, which is subjective consciousness that satisfies Chalmer’s hard problem (We will abbreviate the hard problem of consciousness as “H-consciousness”). The claim is that if we knew the inner workings of phenomenal consciousness and could understand its’ precise operation, we could instantiate such consciousness in a machine. This claim, called the extra-strong AI thesis, is an important claim because if true it would demystify the privileged access problem of first-person consciousness and cast it as an empirical problem of science and not a fundamental question of philosophy. A core assumption of the extra-strong AI thesis is that there is no logical argument that precludes the implementation of H-consciousness in an organic or in-organic machine provided we understand its algorithm. Another way of framing this conclusion is that there is nothing special about H-consciousness as compared to any other process. That is, in the same way that we do not preclude a machine from implementing photosynthesis, we also do not preclude a machine from implementing H-consciousness. While one may be more difficult in practice, it is a problem of science and engineering, and no longer a philosophical question. I propose that Boltuc’s conclusion, while plausible and convincing, comes at a very high price; the argument given for his conclusion does not exclude any conceivable process from machine implementation. In short, if we make some assumptions about the equivalence of a rough notion of algorithm and then tie this to human understanding, all logical preconditions vanish and the argument grants that any process can be implemented in a machine. The purpose of this paper is to comment on the argument for his conclusion and offer additional properties of H-consciousness that can be used to make the conclusion falsifiable through scientific investigation rather than relying on the limits of human understanding.


Hard problem of consciousness Strong AI Weak AI Turing machine Phenomenal consciousness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IllinoisSpringfieldUSA

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