There was a great question on Quora:
What would be the benefits if computers/robots would be conscious? Would they learn better and become more intelligent? Would they become truly creative and inventive? Would they surpass humans in certain fields?
This was my answer:
What would be the benefit if AM’s are conscious?
1) We will find out, and learn more about consciousness as we know today.
2) The understanding of what our human consciousness actually is and where it resides is still discussed very controversial. Therefor even more reason to try.
While abstracting the question, one benefit will be the aspect of innovation.
Once conscious, it could wonder: what could be improved and then in which way and then in what order.
Would AM’s learn better / become more intelligent?
Yes they would learn better because they can put things into perspective of their own observation. However it may also be a disadvantage as the own observation and recognition of the world is now subjective. We will need to work on both aspects. They would not get more “intelligent” because the intelligence is mainly provided by the algorithms and the neural networks. But “self corrective” actions could be triggered by self awareness and change the algorithm. If we want that – not so sure – here is a danger involved. So we still learn.
Would AM’s become truly creative?
We will learn more about creativity when we build first self aware AMs. Creativity is perceived as an act of “creation” even though humans cannot create anything that does not exist in any way or shape. But a unique picture that is very abstract maybe considered creative and a general AI system can do that with or without consciousness. Also here we will learn a lot about creativity and our ability or disability. The disability to be truly creative maybe a natural roadblock for getting us to far.
Would AM’s become innovative?
In our mind innovative is a type of creative with a purpose of significant improvement to a situation. In the context of AMs this is of particular interest. I feel an AM could improve itself without being self aware by virtue of checks and balances and try to improve its own behavior. But being self-aware an AM can build the differential between its own benefits and the benefits to other things or beings. Our own innovative thinking is wired in a way that we create innovation for others and maybe not for ourselves. Our benefit may come however from selling those innovative solutions. So Innovation may be the most interesting benefit from a conscious AM. Given the speed those machines can iterate through millions of scenarios we may see innovative improvements for all of us far beyond our imagination today. This maybe the biggest advancement for humankind by AMs in general.
Would self-aware AM’s be able to surpass humans in certain fields?
AI in general is surpassing humans in certain fields. The cranes we built is surpassing the human ability to lift things, the submarines we built is surpassing our ability to dive, the homes we built is surpassing our own ability to keep us warm…
Only once we built the ‘humanly’ best possible AM, we can start competition between human and machine. It will very quickly be apparent that our energy consumption is by order of magnitude less than of today’s even best imaginable AM. Our physical versatility is still far far ahead of any machine. Our creativity is still absolutely superior given that we need only 1.5 Kilo brain that we can carry anywhere without any connection to a central brain, and on and on it goes.
Remember? The first train ever built was considered deadly if it can go faster than 20 miles an hour because our organ’s wouldn’t withstand higher speed. Today we do 10 times and can’t wait to do 100 times and fly to the moon even faster. AMs are the trains of the late 1800’s we will keep up with them and learn so much about us that it will keep us busy to emulate all of our capabilities and then realize that we do all of that, just in a different form since 300,000 years, putting our children into this world and since 200 years raising our staff to the next level.