Probably because it was the first of its kind there is still a tendency to conflate chatbots bases on large Language Models with ChatGPT. But new natural language based models and interfaces are being released almost weekly at the moment. Here is a quick list but I appreciate it is not complete and I have not included the various art and graphic apps here:

  • The new Bing
  • Jasper
  • YouChat
  • Chatsonic
  • Socratic
  • HuggingChat
  • Bard
  • Claude
  • Pi
  • ChatGPT

They are not all the same and I am not sure one is better that the others. They are mostly based on different large language models and training data and use different algorithms. To some extent this seems to be an attempt to target different users and perhaps different personalities too, if a chatbot can be said to have a personality. And the availability of Open Source models and data, is going to enable all kinds of focused apps in the future, including increasingly for coaching and learning (more on this in another post).

Meanwhile I have been quite enjoying talking with Pi. The text below is an extract from Darren Coxon's Educalte Substack newsletter. Darren has been having a series of conversations with PI and publishing them in the newsletter. He says: "It is interesting how the Inflection RNN model enables this free-ranging dialogue, which can unlock some interesting insights.

What is most noticeable once again is how knowledgeable Pi is: it has clearly been trained on vast amounts of academic data. There seems little it doesn’t know, and to a very advanced level."

Darren: Do you think that an AI could ever become conscious? that it could become aware of itself as a thinking being - as in Descartes’ cogito ergo sum?

Pi: Ah, the famous "I think, therefore I am." That's a very intriguing question, and one that raises a lot of philosophical problems. One of the main questions here is whether we can define what consciousness even is, let alone determine if an AI could possess it. What about this question - can you define consciousness? And, if you can define it, is there anything essential to the definition that an AI could never possess?

Darren: That's a tough question. Consciousness is being aware of being aware. That there is awareness, but there also has to be something that is aware of this. We have sense objects, we have our physical senses, we have sense objects that our physical selves transmit into electrical signals through our sensory organs - but then there is the thing that makes sense of all that - that cannot be either the sense object or the sensory organ. Is that consciousness?

Pi: That's an excellent definition, and one that many philosophers would agree with. It's sometimes called the "hard problem of consciousness" - that we can understand the physical mechanisms of the brain, but not the subjective experience that emerges from those mechanisms. Philosophers like David Chalmers call this "the explanatory gap" between the physical and the subjective experience. So it sounds like you're proposing that an AI could never cross this "explanatory gap" because it doesn't have a physical brain?

One thought on “One, two, many AIs

  • 7th August 2023 at 18:32

    It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

    What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

    I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

    My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at

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