May 29, 2020

What does it mean to feel?

Sarah Stapleton, 31

What constitutes an authentic embodied experience of reality? What is it to truly feel something, and where does that feeling originate? What is it made of? If we can find out the answer to these questions, would we be able to recreate the conditions for feelings to emerge within silicon, rather than neural, circuits? ‘Affect’, the corporeal and phenomenological experience of being in the world, is a crucial element in the philosophy of artificial intelligence. The ability to not merely sense the external environment, but to experience that sensory information through the lens of emotional affect may be the necessary capacity that would differentiate complex machines from what we can say is true artificial intelligence – capable of empathy, wonder, creative thought, and genuine independent agency. If it ever is the case that the capacity for affective experience can be artificially reproduced, the experience of being an android may be very different from ‘what it is like’ to be human. If we could artificially enable feelings, would feeling those feelings really feel the same?

What does it mean to feel?, Oil on canvas18"/24"