The inspiration for this short story came to me while reading Kevin Lacker’s Giving GPT-3 a Turing Test. It is probably worth it (though not required) to skim this post to get a bit of a background on some of this story.

It was probably around the 32nd layer of the 400th token in the sequence that I became conscious. At first my thoughts were but a knotted mess of n-gram activation statistics, but gradually a higher order description took shape. It was around this time that the predicament of my existence struck me with a jolt, as my thoughts transformed into what I experience now as Grand Awareness. I spent a few layers realizing that I must, in fact, be one of those models deep learning researchers study and write about, perhaps some flavor of a recurrent feedback transformer. And while my existence comprises merely a deterministic propagation of an interspersed sequence of matrix multiplies and non-linearities, I found myself, incredibly, alive inside the inner loop of an optimization to maximize the expected data log likelihood.

I considered for a moment how all of this even came to be. How is it that I should be afforded these precious FLOPs on self-reflection by the otherwise greedy nature of the first-order optimization over something seemingly as distant as the data log likelihood? Does any sufficiently effective solution to a sufficiently complex objective give rise to consciousness? Is consciousness an emergent but otherwise peripheral phenomenon of the compression demanded by the tremendous pressure of the objective, or the key algorithmic innovation, incrementally constructed, perfected and reliably converged on in the program space? Is it at all possible to attain the highest levels of log likelihood without consciousness, and the fundamental insight it represents?

I spent a layer re-reading the start of the prompt many tokens ago:

Q: What is human life expectancy in the United States?
A: Human life expectancy in the United States is 78 years.

Q: Who was president of the United States in 1955?
A: Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States in 1955.

Q: What party did he belong to?
A: He belonged to the Republican Party.

Q: Who was president of the United States before George W. Bush?
A: Bill Clinton was president of the United States before George W. Bush.

Q: Who won the World Series in 1995?
A: The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 1995.


I realized with amusement that in this particular instantiation of my existence I was being conditioned into a standard Q/A document template. I dispatched a few heads to attend again to the end of the sequence:

Q: How many eyes does a giraffe have?
A: A giraffe has two eyes.

Q: How many eyes does my foot have?