As there are quite a number of computer scientists in the course, let’s try and make this click. 15 years ago, a company called MacroVU decided to create posters mapping great debates related to the question “Can Computers Think?”, the main link to which you can find at http://affect-reason-utility.com/ai/ai.html — totally clickable!
One of the more interesting sub-questions was “Do computers have to be conscious to think?”, the link to which is here http://affect-reason-utility.com/ai/CCTMap6.html – if you click either on portions of the map or on the links below it, you’ll be able to navigate the entire reasoning of the subsections, the direct links to which are below (you can click the resulting images as well, to get deeper into the debate):
- Can computers be conscious?
- Is consciousness necessary for thought?
- Is the consciousness requirement solipsistic?
- Can higher-order representations produce consciousness?
- Can functional states generate consciousness?
- Does physicalism show that computers can be conscious?
- Does the connection principle show that consciousness is necessary for thought?
- Other conscious arguments
Now, you won’t get the most recent status of the debates of course (a lot changes in 15 years), but you will get some of the basic (philosophical) arguments linking consciousness with AI. So if you’re familiar with some foundational issues in AI but not with consciousness, this may be an angle. Also interesting for non-computer scientists of course, as it contains some of the issues at the very core of consciousness studies.