Many AI people believe that man's thinking and consciousness is an occasional phenomenon or an epiphenomenon of the workings of brain organization and that thinking and consciousness will show up if we make something organized like a brain. They have to get rid of dualism of mind/matter and turn to monism, becoming thorough materialists, in order to make thinking machines.
However, I think this explanation can hardly solve the perplexities of AI theories. Although mind depends on matter in these theories, it does not tell us how mind governs and orients the behaviors. We can hardly understand why the epiphenomenon is consciousness. Furthermore, is intelligence a thought or behaviors. I believe that intelligence is a thought that we can understand. We may come to an absurd conclusion that almost all things has intelligence if we refer to intelligence as behaviors or functions only. We understand a thought only if we can understand but not predict the exact behaviors of a subject.
Some other people believe that any organization and system of substances including water, soil, rock, air, etc. have consciousness, will and spirit, but we usually can not sense them unless they form a complex organization. It seems to be religious or theological ideas and bring us back to the endless and resultless debate of which is the base of the other between mind and matter.
There are many theories describing mind/matter issues, however I can not say which is true, partly true, wrong or partly wrong. The philosophy of AI brings us back to this topic. Since we are talking about making something intelligent, we have to describe what it will be like, know how to make it and which methods are possible or impossible all in an operable way with our theories. AI or AL theory/philosophy should be somewhat different from other philosophies that discuss and reason abstract concepts only, however they can help us.
The pattern of our brains is organized in a certain order. The orderliness is the rules in our minds. We use these rules (cause and result) to understand and describe things. If the order of the pattern of the objects is incompatible with the pattern of our brains, we can not understand them at least for the time being, because what we know about the world or universe comes from our senses. It is inferred that the pattern of man-made thinking machines should be compatible with the order of the organization of our brains.
We are aware that our brains are not in a good order when we are in intension. What we behave is what our brains do for themselves, i.e. an intelligent brain organizes itself or goes more orderly with a will via intelligent body behaviors in the end.
A computer or a control system has hardware and software. An intelligent life being has two features, body and mind, as if light has properties of wave and particle. Software is like "mind" that governs the behaviors of a "body" system, but it may not function intelligently. It depends.
Software is the organization in a system. Unlike the running of computers, thinking is not only the running of software but also the reorganizing or, to be more exact, reorganizing itself into a higher order.
Consciousness is the result of memory of brain workings. Consciousness tends to go to unconsciousness as much as possible from fuzziness to orderliness. Consciousness, with a concentration or attention, deals with only the fuzzy parts of problems while unconsciousness does multi-responses or multi-actions precisely to usual environmental and inner-body signals or stimuli. Brain recalls what it has stored in the unconscious "section" of the brain, but the process of memory as a thinking is done in the conscious "section" of the brain.
Computer programs are completely "unconscious" or orderly. Unconsciousness never "accepts" fuzziness from consciousness.
There are two kinds of phenomena we can sense, natural (non-life) and biological (life, society). Intelligence is a phenomenon of life, rather than one of natural (non-life) phenomena. In general, we can predict natural (non-life) phenomena and discover the laws of them, but we can not find the common laws of any life (animal) phenomena. Lives (animals) have will and their exact behaviors are not predictable.
All lives including plants came into being with unconsciousness first in the world. Unconsciousness works on "body" behaviors either in full order as exact responses to environmental stimuli for its adaptation and to inner-body stimuli for its existence or in full chaos for natural selection. Unconsciousness can never deal with fuzzy problems.
When lives developed to a certain degree, they began to record, in a simple form of memory, the relation of stimuli and responses and formed "experience", thus consciousness took place. Early or low level consciousness of lives is not self-aware. When a life memorizes what it is doing in a form of information, it is self-aware.
Consciousness is the result of memory of the process of responses of the subject itself to stimuli of fuzzy information. I would say that even brains are the result of memory.
If we accept it, consciousness will simply become a matter of memory. Memory does not record all brain workings because of unconsciousness. If a computer could record the process of what it is doing concomitantly and spontaneously, it would be self-aware.
I think it is not appropriate to discuss consciousness without referring to unconsciousness, which is the profound base of consciousness. All brain memory is stored in unconsciousness.
Unconsciousness plays a function of moderating or filtering inputs, organizing correlational memory or experiences, running multi-tasks, etc., while subconsciousness is a psychology term usually used to describe the drive of human thinking and behaviors. I am not talking about subconsciousness, since this is not the right place to discuss it here. Unconsciousness, unlike an empty mind, is ever brain activities until its cerebral death.
Intelligent workings of human brains are a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness. No intelligence without unconsciousness.
Talking about brain thinking can relate different layers from superficial manifestations to even the state, movement and interplay of elementary particles. Whatever digital, analog, image, emotion, values, quantum, etc., we mean, I would say if we are referring to or crossing over different function levels in one discussion we may often get confused.
An AI subject or entity as neural-nets must include both a "mind" and a"body". So-called "mind" is the consciousness zone and unconsciousness organization or programs. The consciousness zone deals with fuzzy problems such as the process of memory and programming functions. The unconsciousness programs deals with precise problems including information filtration or moderation, multi-tasks and storing memory. And so-called "body" includes sense organs and behavior actuators.
The elements or members in an intelligent system must be interconnected via a nerve system. In other words, there can not be any interfaces among them for signal transmission or information communication. There are interfaces among the parts of a computer for the information transmission, so that a computer can not be considered as an AI subject from this point of view only.
If we interact with an artificial system, there must be an interface that is compatible with the senses between man and the man-made. If we make something self-aware, there should be an interface between its own awareness and its own man-madeness. What should the interface be like?
Furthermore, we have to know in advance how it shows consciousness when we design such a system, but the consciousness is an epiphenomenon of what we design. Consciousness shows up only after we have already made the system. We design and make things according to the existing rules and logic in our brains, so we can expect the functions and development of what we will make. We can not design a machine whose functions we do not understand and expect. Therefore we have to emulate the brain functions and this brings about the difficulty of the interface to us. So we have to turn to quantum theory, but we are not sure if the workings of our brains are quantized.