Let’s say there is a system of robotic aliens that reached humans. Also, let’s create limitations for the following scenario of proving one’s consciousness: aliens are created by a higher mind, inexplicable to humans that became extinct. Those robots have no specific goal to achieve on Earth, for now; they perceive themselves as the primary civilization in the Universe. They demand the proof of the existence of consciousness among humans in exchange for life. The level of technological development is as of the 21st century. The set conditions will determine how humanity or an individual will act to show evidence of the existence of the mind. To prepare the strategy it is necessary to comprehend basic things about human perception of life and robotic algorithms that dictate the behavior. To prove consciousness, we need, at first, to look at things we believe are not alive and thinking.
Another point that we should take into account is the difference between consciousness and self-consciousness. The latter manifests itself in internal conflicts and the awareness of the other objects around us, whereas the former is a quality of a human being, that cannot be explained, measured, put in a rigid box of a definition. It has an inexplicable origin and does not have any purpose except for the one that an individual decides or is taught to think it has.
Of course, we should not go by the philosophical theories of what and where is the consciousness. They generally are divided into two categories of dualism by Descartes and monism. Dualism suggests that the mind occurs at the intersections of physical and mental experiences and probably occurs in the brain itself. There are also two distinctive views on the nature of the formation of those regions: according to the laws of general physics and not. Modern science, although, guesses that quantum physics might provide specific evidence. The monism, on the other hand, believes in only one state of being. Most popular type of it describes the world as an illusion, information input to create the picture inside our brain and mind. The only thing that is understandable is the fact that if we cannot physically prove the mind of an individual to exist, then the nature of consciousness is non-physical.
There are several states of being. Some of them might be achieved, some could come across daily, such as sleeping and seeing dreams. Other states might be caused by substance use or anything else that influences sensory parts of the brain. In addition, the reality and brains might create false feelings or lead to a wrong conclusion because of mental illnesses. Many of them are coped with, but they remain incurable until now as well. The robot, for instance, would suggest a human being is an update or an exchange of specific components.
From the perspective of AI machines, a false conclusion may be made because of the implemented experiences and knowledge that allows AI to choose from a countless number of responses and possible acts. Nevertheless, they are still machines. Any living creature might have a conscious mind, that is more possible to be true than not at all. It is because humans have the opportunity to experience only their own mind but never someone else’s.
The most valuable thing to know about humans when discussing consciousness is the way it affects human behavior. Everyone knows about “human factor”, cognitive biases, etc. They occur in the situations when an individual has to decide something that is either new or unusual as well as triggering. At this point, any AI technology would rely on experience based on its nature, but many people forget that humans have both animalistic and conscious traits. When the triggering conditions occur, an individual with the mind is utterly unpredictable in its behavior. The situation may bring up childhood memories and traits which start the reaction process that is known from a small age but rarely happens due to consciousness being established around 12-13 years of age, as we learn to control many acts and thoughts because of adaptation. Besides, human animalistic behavior can differ in strength and can be expressed in conditions of a complete stress where self-awareness is under the control of hormones and instincts. Only afterward, the person may experience the impact on their psychological state and realize that they would not act that way if they were aware of themselves.
The last part of understanding how conscious beings differ from robots is about details. Any AI technology, any robot, android, or anything else that is capable of choosing between 1 and 0 or is based on quantum physics has a different level of details involved. They might be made just for choosing between “yes” and “no” or be created for more advanced actions. For instance, analyzing the human face and providing all available data. However, each machine is made by a human or smarter species by its own look and functioning features. Overall, human biases and human factors play a part in creating something as sophisticated as a conscious being, constantly suffering from the acknowledgement of being fearful and mortal. From here, I would derive a conclusion that humans are bad at conducting the Turing test on machines, but machines might be good at this. Here is why. Humans are prone to believe almost everything they cannot instantly check or those statements which sound logical and are based on common knowledge. Humans, because of their social, cultural, and experience backgrounds tend to evaluate information differently and might interpret acts and facts due to their own perception of life. When testing more and more advanced AI technology, the human brain may be overwhelmed with the amount of factors they first put into the robot and then had others to evaluate those factors as typical for a mindful being. Robotic systems might be more beneficial to use in those tests because of a simpler structure which also gives ability to avoid major biases. The unconscious machines are used to detect and track changes in human behavior. The human brain is much more efficient while interpreting but insufficient in holding this relevant information for a long time.
The proof of mind and mental experience of life is in everyone’s head. We know it despite the inability to check. Robots, as more developed in being less prone to cognitive mistakes, could just run the Turing test or ask about a typical controversial thing. Then, the proof itself would not be needed as almost every individual would express their thoughts differently and independently from each other. The lack of knowledge of consciousness itself is the sign of mind, as well as the inability to imagine death, find answers on crucial existential questions, and fully examine one’s feelings and soul.