Sunday, May 20, 2007

Progress on Self-Aware Robots

We reported on Christope Menant's proposal for achieving machine
consciousness by building on self-consciousness and
self-representation. We've also reported in the past on Black Starfish, an
experimental robot that is self-aware. With perfect timing, a Burlington
Free Press article on Josh Bongard and his Black
Starfish robot
appeared today. Black Starfish's self-awareness is somewhere
between basic self-representation and true self-awareness. Bongard
believes getting from there to consciousness is theoretically possible
but notes, "I'm not sure of the practical value". Philosphers and
scientists have long pondered the purpose of our own consciousness which
seems to them to have neither a functional purpose in our behavior nor an
evolutionary benefit. New Scientist got in on the fun as well by posting
an update
on Nico (article intro only). Nico
is another robot with rudimentary self-representation capabilities that
we've mentioned
before. To understand how it may be possible to get from
self-representation to consciousness with the help of a little anxiety,
see Menat's 2006 poster on the evolution
of consciousness (PDF format).


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