The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Raphaël Millière: The Vector Grounding Problem and Self-Consciousness

Raphaël Millière: The Vector Grounding Problem and Self-Consciousness

On self-consciousness, sentience claims about AI, and grounding in LLMs.

In episode 84 of The Gradient Podcast, Daniel Bashir speaks to Professor Raphaël Millière.

Professor Millière is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Previously, he was the 2020 Robert A. Burt Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience in Columbia University’s Center for Science and Society, and completed his DPhil in philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he focused on self-consciousness.

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  • (00:00) Intro

  • (02:20) Prof. Millière’s background

  • (08:07) AI + philosophy questions and the human side / empiricism

  • (18:38) Putting aside metaphysical issues

  • (20:28) Prof. Millière’s work on self-consciousness, does consciousness constitutively involve self-consciousness?

  • (32:05) Relationship to recent pronouncements about AI sentience

  • (41:54) Chatbots’ self-presentation as having a “self”

  • (51:05) Intro to grounding and related concepts

  • (1:00:06) The different types of grounding

  • (1:08:48) Lexical representations and things in the world, distributional hypothesis, concepts in LLMs

  • (1:21:40) Representational content and overcoming the vector grounding problem

  • (1:32:01) Causal-informational relations and teleology

  • (1:43:45) Levels of grounding, extralinguistic aspects of meaning

  • (1:52:12) Future problems and ongoing projects

  • (2:04:05) Outro


The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Deeply researched, technical interviews with experts thinking about AI and technology. Hosted, recorded, researched, and produced by Daniel Bashir.