Can we say for sure a smartphone isn't conscious? What about a bacteria? A bat?
In 1974 Thomas Nagel wrote "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" In the article he argued that no matter how much we might know about the winged mammals we can never know how it feels to be one. We share common ancestry and biology to these creatures yet they are alien and inaccessible to us.
This article argues that if recognising a bats consciousness is hard, recognising a machine's is impossible. It would be so alien to us we would not be able to recognise it.
In all the chatter about the future of artificial intelligence, the question has been glossed over or, worse, treated as settled. The longstanding assumption, a reflection of the anthropomorphic romanticism of computer scientists, science fiction writers, and internet entrepreneurs, has been that a self-aware computer would have a mind, and hence a consciousness, similar to our own. We, supreme programmers, would create machine consciousness in our own image.
I am fascinated by consciousness. We know so little about it, yet is all we do know. We can never know another beings consciousness but we are stuck in out own.
A great conjecture with wide ranging implications.