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Robots With Internal Models A Route to Machine Consciousness?

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Abstract:

We are engineers, and our view of consciousness is shaped by an engineering ambition: we would like to build a conscious machine. We begin by acknowledging that we may be a little disadvantaged, in that consciousness studies do not form part of the engineering curriculum, and so we may be starting from a position of considerable ignorance as regards the study of consciousness itself. In practice, however, this may not set us back very far; almost a decade ago, Crick wrote: 'Everyone has a rough idea of what is meant by consciousness. It is better to avoid a precise definition of consciousness because of the dangers of premature definition. Until the problem is understood much better, any attempt at a formal definition is likely to be either misleading or overly restrictive, or both' (Crick, 1994). This seems to be as true now as it was then, although the identification of different aspects of consciousness (P-consciousness, A-consciousness, self consciousness, and monitoring consciousness) by Block (1995) has certainly brought a degree of clarification. On the other hand, there is little doubt that consciousness does seem to be something to do with the operation of a sophisticated control system (the human brain), and we can claim more familiarity with control systems than can most philosophers, so perhaps we can make up some ground there.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Computer Science, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park CO4 3SQ, UK., Email: owen@essex.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2003

imp/jcs/2003/00000010/F0020004/1348
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