Simulated Consciousness vs. AI

It just dawned on me that when writing my last post, I am perhaps mixing up two different ideas. I am not sure if a simulated consciousness and Artificial Intelligence are the same thing? Part of me thinks they are the same thing but then again I am not sure. Let’s look at this for a second.

Artificial Intelligence is some sort of computer program that we, humans, create that can think like a human and or mimic human thought processes. I am not sure where the line is drawn with emotion and other human qualities, other than it can think and reason like a normal person. A simulated consciousness is something that is technically not real. There are many theories that we are living in a computer program and that our consciousness is simulated in that program. I found the below definition on Wikipedia:

Simulated consciousness, synthetic consciousness, etc. is a theme of a number of works in science fiction. The theme is one step beyond the concept of the “brain in a vat”/”simulated reality” in that not only the perceived reality but the brain and its consciousness are simulations themselves.

So I guess that simulated consciousness is what occurs inside a computer simulation, so both are simulations. Still I would think that in a roundabout way AI and simulated consciousness are one and the same. I guess the distinction here is that if and or when we create AI will it have human qualities as mentioned above, such as emotion, or will it just be cold and calculated like depicted in many sifi stories. I would imagine that if it can reason as a human there would be some emotion as well as many other qualities that are normal to humans that an AI would have. I guess I find it hard to imagine a true AI, and by that I mean that no one could tell they were talking to a robot, that would not have these qualities. So if that is the case I think AI and simulated consciousness would be one and the same. The machine or program would be consciousness and self-aware of itself and its surroundings. Again if this is the case I think then this AI may not be totally on board with doing whatever we tell it to do, which gets back to the main point of it could just seek out pleasurable experiences which I mentioned in my previous post.

I wanted to get some else’s opinion on this and I figured who better to ask than the man himself, Ray Kurzweil. I emailed him on his site, he has yet to get back to me, but below is the email I sent.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on the differences of AI and simulated consciousness. At first glance I think they are different but when you start to analyze them I believe they are more or less the same thing.

To me it seems that a simulated consciousness that came into being in a simulation would also be considered AI or a form of AI. On the other hand if an AI was truly modeled after the human brain and could simulate the human thought process and think like human in every aspect then I would also argue that this would be considered Conscious and therefore simulating consciousness albeit perfectly so it could not be considered a simulation as you have said. Something that mimics the real thing so perfectly that it can’t be distinguished from a “real” consciousness, so it must be considered real.

Am I on to anything or are these different and I am just missing the bigger picture.

Thanks for your time,


I also found this short video that talks about consciousness and it is pretty interesting. Also there are some links posted below if you really want to some further reading that will make your head hurt. Enjoy…



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