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Fall 2009...

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ai Bio enhanceD nano neuRo humoR FoReVeR young 16 Fall 2009 ai T his is a separate question from whether machines can be intelligent, or whether they can act like they feel. The question is whether machines — if suitably constructed and programmed — can have awareness, passion, subjective experience ... consciousness? I certainly think so, but generally speaking there is no consensus among experts. It's fair to say that — even without introducing machines into the picture — consciousness is without doubt one of the most confused notions in the lexicon of modern science and philosophy. Given the thorny and contentious nature of the subject, I'm not quite sure why I took it upon myself to organize a workshop on Machine Consciousness... but earlier this year, that's exactly what I did. The Machine Consciousness Workshop was held on June 14, in Hong Kong, as part of the larger Toward a Science of Consciousness conference and Asia Consciousness Festival. The TSC conference as a whole attracted hundreds of participants, but only a couple dozen deigned to venture into the riskier domain of machine consciousness. Among these brave souls, I reckon there were more than a couple dozen views on the matter at hand! First we have the materialists. Joscha Bach — a German AI researcher and entrepreneur and the author of Principles of Synthetic Intelligence — summarizes their perspective elegantly: "The notion of the mind as an information processing system, capable of forming an integrated self-and-world-model, modulated by emotional configurations and driven by a finite set of motivational urges, is sufficient to remove the miracles [that some associate with consciousness]." Daniel Dennett is the best known modern advocate of the materialist view. According to his book Consciousness Explained, it's patently obvious that machines can be conscious in the same sense as humans if they're constructed and programmed correctly. Paul Fahn, an AI and robotics researcher at Samsung Electronics, presented this perspective at the MC Workshop in the context of his work on emotional robots. His core idea is that if a robot brain makes emotional decisions using a random or pseudorandom "preference oracle" similar to the one in a human brain, Will machines ever really feel, in the same sense that humans do? Can Bots Feel Joy? BEN GOERTZEL Courtesy of Aldebaran Robotics

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