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The Sensorimotor Account of Sensory Consciousness: Implications for Machine Consciousness

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When people speak about consciousness, they distinguish various types and different levels, and they argue for different concepts of cognition. This complicates the discussion about artificial or machine consciousness. Here we take a bottom-up approach to this question by presenting a family of robot experiments that invite us to think about consciousness in the context of artificial agents. The experiments are based on a computational model of sensorimotor contingencies. It has been suggested that these regularities in the sensorimotor flow of an agent can explain raw feels and perceptual consciousness in biological agents. We discuss the validity of the model with respect to sensorimotor contingency theory and consider whether a robot that is controlled by knowledge of its sensorimotor contingencies could have any form of consciousness. We propose that consciousness does not require higher-order thought or higher-order representations. Rather, we argue that consciousness starts when (i) an agent actively (endogenously triggered) uses its knowledge of sensorimotor contingencies to issue predictions and (ii) when it deploys this capability to structure subsequent action.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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