AI Ain’t Gonna Have No NDEs – And That’s a Big Deal |624|

Chat GPT 4o moves the AI sentience discussion to center stage

AI technology might be a civilization-changing moment. Last week’s release of Chat GPT 4o looked like a step in that direction. The new AI model’s ability to listen and respond to human speech has everyone reevaluating how far and how fast AI is taking us.

The excitement around AI has attracted some of the world’s greatest minds; so why can’t they grasp how the nature of human consciousness question is linked to the AI sentience question? In particular, why don’t they understand how scientifically validated phenomenon like near-death experiences (NDEs) weigh in on the question? The AI community’s failure to grapple with the nature of human consciousness and the reality of NDEs represents a massive philosophical inadequacy. This blind spot should have dominated the transhumanist conversation from the onset, but it didn’t. Now that AGI looms ever closer, it’s time to have this conversation.

NDEs provide some of the most powerful evidence that consciousness transcends the physical brain. These experiences are not just hallucinations or wishful thinking. They have been rigorously studied, are consistent across cultures, and are often supported by veridical evidence—meaning the out-of-body experiencers have perceived accurate details about their surroundings that they shouldn’t have been able to perceive while unconscious. Some of the most famous and compelling examples of this research come from controlled studies conducted in hospitals while patients were being resuscitated after cardiac arrest.

So, if human consciousness isn’t solely the result of brain activity, should we reconsider the AI sentience question? I get the feeling OpenAI CEO Sam Altman thinks so. In a recent interview after the stunning release of ChatGPT 4o, he said, “I think many, many years from now, humans are still gonna care about other humans… everyone’s like, oh, everyone’s gonna fall in love with ChatGPT now, and everybody’s gonna have a ChatGPT girlfriend… I bet not… I think we’re wired to care about other humans in all sorts of big and small ways.”

I think he’s onto something.

Highlights from this episode of Skeptiko:

  1. AI, no matter how advanced, is fundamentally limited because it lacks the capacity for genuine spiritual experiences like NDEs. AI operates within the confines of computation and programming, while NDEs point to a transcendent dimension of human consciousness.
  2. The reality of NDEs challenges the prevailing materialistic worldview that reduces consciousness to mere brain activity. NDEs provide compelling evidence for the existence of a non-physical aspect of human beings, which AI, being purely physical, cannot replicate or fully comprehend.
  3. The profound sense of love, peace, and interconnectedness reported in many NDEs highlights the spiritual nature of human existence, something that AI, despite its technological sophistication, cannot truly grasp or embody.
  4. The understanding that consciousness can exist independent of the physical body, as demonstrated by NDEs, raises questions about the true nature of sentience and whether AI can ever achieve genuine self-awareness or subjective experience.
  5. While AI may excel in certain cognitive tasks and even mimic human-like interactions, it lacks the depth of subjective experience and spiritual dimension that NDEs reveal as integral to human existence.
  6. The prevalence of NDEs across cultures and the consistency of their core features suggest a universal spiritual reality that transcends the limitations of AI’s programming and computational processes.
  7. Rather than viewing AI as a threat to human spirituality, NDEs offer a perspective that recognizes AI’s limitations while affirming the profound depth and potential of human consciousness, urging us to embrace our spiritual nature as a vital aspect of our humanity.

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