Humanity is at the advent of making self-aware and hence conscious Artificial Intelligence. What is the limit when we stop calling these "Artificial"? When does a machine take the title of "Living"? And what should humanity do about this?

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    The only way that we could be at the threshold of making conscious AI is by lowering the definition of consciousness so low that we can call almost everything conscious. And that is precisely what is happening as evidenced, for example, by the term substance chauvinism. That's a term for those of us who remain unwilling to call everything conscious. If we actually believed that we were on the brink of something big, what's the point in lowering the standards to make it seem like we've already arrived? The fact is that we're not even close.
    – user3017
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 9:32
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    Living is self-transcending the own boundaries according to Helmuth Plessner (out of itself and into itself - bodily, and in the case of (higher) animals, also mentally). Why should bacterias not be living (title question) or conscious machines do?
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 12:53
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    I'd argue that this question is highly opinion based and better answered with scientific than philosophical definitions.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:25
  • If scientists are even close to even defining consciousness it'll be news to me. But the question is still a good one. There is a vast and inconclusive academic literature on the topic. .
    – user20253
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


Artificial means man made, and it is therefore irrelevant if it is conscious or not.

Living also has nothing to do with consciousness - for example, germs are alive but presumably harbor no consciousness.

Self aware is not a good definition of consciousness since it is not clear what is meant by the term. for example it could mean something very technical and narrow and trivial.

Finally, unless by advent you mean twenty to a hundred years, we are probably not at the advent of creating machines with human level general artificial intelligence.

  • "Artificial means man made" Not totally true or requires elaboration. Any particular human is man made, in the sense without other humans given human also wouldn't exist. I would rather say that artificial means "created using abstraction and imagination".
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 20:25

Consciousness cannot be rigorously proven to exist outside of oneself (cogito ergo sum). We attribute consciousness to those around us chiefly on dogmatic basis i.e. we apply conventions, which vary from person to person, to decide whether an entity is conscious. Therefore we might need to be convinced by the "AI" in question as to their status as conscious. Life on the other hand is not necessarily a requirement and some say there are different levels of consciousness attributable to various "levels" of organisms. As for what we should do, well I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

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    Based on another answer about fire not having life it seems you view fire and AI in a similar way. Would you consider fire to have a form of consciousness although not life? Again it would help to have references. They provide a support around an answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 11:32
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    @FrankHubeny The hard statement of this would be: "Life doesn't entail Consciousness And Consciousness doesn't entail Life"? Maybe, but I'm thinking more like: Life is difficult to define but Consciousness is impossible. We can observe and check attributes to determine the presence of Life. Intuitively we require at least communication before we'll ascribe consciousness; and furthermore presume a will to communicate. But a capacity and predisposition to communicate are anthropocentric expectation... So maybe the fire just doesn't want to talk to us. (I'll make an effort on the references)
    – christo183
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:22

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