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Will there ever be a conscious robot?
Posted: 05 June 2013 11:39 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I think so.  Maybe not in my lifetime, but quite possiby in the lifetime of some younger forum readers.

I think that Eugene Izikevich with the Brain Corporation (also curator of Scholarpedia) is on the right track.  And there are already robots that can learn in various rudimentary situations in which they have been programmed to learn.

I think that reverse enginerring the biological neurological model is the way to go.  I think that making robots that have multi-sensory faculties are the way to go. 

I think that, for the development of consciousness, robots will require the ability to integrate multi sensory faculties.

And ultimately (for the development of sophisticated consciousness) I think that robots will need to be able to learn how to learn, in general, but especially to learn how to learn verbal behavior. And this would require, I believe, that robots become social creatures, i.e., coming under the influence of general reinforcement and punishment by others, but also learning through social reinforcement and punishment.

[ Edited: 05 June 2013 11:49 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 06 June 2013 12:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think that they will also need some sort of analog of mirror neurons.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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TimB - 05 June 2013 11:39 PM

I think so. 

I also think it is possible in principle, and also think that they become conscious by learning in a similar way we do. Consciousness will not be simply programmed by implementing ‘consciousness algorithms’. It will arise from low level learning procedures, like it is done in massive parallel processing with back propagating algorithms and so. Not for nothing also known as neural networks. I do not think we will ever be able to build a conscious robot with exact predictable behaviour, exactly because of the reason you give:

that robots become social creatures, i.e., coming under the influence of general reinforcement and punishment by others, but also learning through social reinforcement and punishment

So they will also be culturally formed individuals. And they will have free will..  tongue laugh

But I think we will never reach that. We will have killed ourselves already before technology has advanced that far… So literally taken, my answer to your question is ‘no’, but only for practical reasons.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 05:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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TimB - 06 June 2013 12:29 AM

I think that they will also need some sort of analog of mirror neurons.

I imagine they will need pretty much everything we have.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think that’s a bit of a trick question. I’ll paraphrase a quote from Daniel Dennett:

Consider a human being who, from birth, was completely separated from the rest of humanity. This person would never have a chance to learn how to bond, how to talk, how to add, and a host of other skills. Because this human would have no way to communicate and lacks virtually all of the thinking skills that most people learn from others, we probably would not consider this human to be conscious.

Is there a rigorous definition of being “conscious” or is it more of a social definition?

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Posted: 06 June 2013 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 06 June 2013 07:36 AM

I think that’s a bit of a trick question. I’ll paraphrase a quote from Daniel Dennett:

Consider a human being who, from birth, was completely separated from the rest of humanity. This person would never have a chance to learn how to bond, how to talk, how to add, and a host of other skills. Because this human would have no way to communicate and lacks virtually all of the thinking skills that most people learn from others, we probably would not consider this human to be conscious.

Is there a rigorous definition of being “conscious” or is it more of a social definition?

For what I suggested as “sophisticated consciousness”, I think that a robot would have to go though a developmental learning process, as do humans, to become fully conscious, e.g. developing self awareness, language, acute awareness of others, learning to interpret subtle social cues, rules of social behavior, etc.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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GdB - 06 June 2013 01:54 AM
TimB - 05 June 2013 11:39 PM

I think so. 

I also think it is possible in principle, and also think that they become conscious by learning in a similar way we do. Consciousness will not be simply programmed by implementing ‘consciousness algorithms’. It will arise from low level learning procedures, like it is done in massive parallel processing with back propagating algorithms and so. Not for nothing also known as neural networks. I do not think we will ever be able to build a conscious robot with exact predictable behaviour, exactly because of the reason you give:

that robots become social creatures, i.e., coming under the influence of general reinforcement and punishment by others, but also learning through social reinforcement and punishment

So they will also be culturally formed individuals. And they will have free will..  tongue laugh

But I think we will never reach that. We will have killed ourselves already before technology has advanced that far… So literally taken, my answer to your question is ‘no’, but only for practical reasons.

I am more optimistic, in that I think it could happen within this century, if advancements in our technologies continue unabated at the current (or quite possibly an increasing) rate.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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George - 06 June 2013 05:58 AM
TimB - 06 June 2013 12:29 AM

I think that they will also need some sort of analog of mirror neurons.

I imagine they will need pretty much everything we have.

Right.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I agree, and that will almost certainly include motivation and desires such as the desire to continue existence and protect against possible threats.  And there goes humanity.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 06 June 2013 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ll answer your question with a question: What’s the difference between a conscious robot and a human? Answer: technology.  This thread presupposes technology on a par with current day computers, maybe extrapolated out a bit.  What will “robot building” technology look like 2 thousand years from now? I bet it’ll resemble the stuff we’re made of…neurons, chemical-based communication, etc. i.e. more “meat” than “metal”. And maybe the manufacturing process will resemble evolution, perhaps on another planet or moon used for the purpose. See where I’m heading…? smile

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Posted: 06 June 2013 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I was thinking more in the near term, as within some of our lifetimes.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Occam. - 06 June 2013 09:26 AM

I agree, and that will almost certainly include motivation and desires such as the desire to continue existence and protect against possible threats.  And there goes humanity.  smile

Occam

If there are ever a large number of concsious robots, some of them would likely be insane.  We might need to check with Isaac Asimov for some sort of safeguard.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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You asked: Will there ever be a conscious robot?

My response: Wouldn’t really surprise me. In a roundabout way, some here would argue that we’re conscious robots, albit based on organic molocules rather then artificial microprocessors.

How will we know it’s happen?

When Robbie the Robot asks “What’s in it for me?” and means it.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 06 June 2013 03:12 PM

You asked: Will there ever be a conscious robot?

My response: Wouldn’t really surprise me. In a roundabout way, some here would argue that we’re conscious robots, albit based on organic molocules rather then artificial microprocessors.

How will we know it’s happen?...

Ok, I see what you’re saying.  That may be a question for the philosophy section. Although there are various ways that psychologists might propose to answer the question.  But for practical purposes, it may be when enough of us humans accept that the robots actually are independent sentient beings, e.g. they are granted certain civil rights.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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TimB - 06 June 2013 11:04 AM

I was thinking more in the near term, as within some of our lifetimes.

I know wink But my idea is more fun.  As for your original question, how would we know the robot was conscious? For that matter how do we know any animal (including humans) is conscious?  This whole thread really *does* boil down to philosophy. Star Trek Next Gen had a great episode on this very topic, regarding Data.  One researcher wanted to dismantle Data to study “this incredible machine”. The others on the Enterprise objected since they considered Data conscious.

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Posted: 06 June 2013 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Your idea may be fun, but of course I think mine is more fun.  Because I think that the reality (not just philosophy) of developing robots that will become increasingly functional is already in its infancy and that the practical applications will be extraordinarily far-reaching.

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