Knowledge, Understanding and Consciousness

Knowledge, Understanding and Consciousness
12 October 2009, St. Louis, MO, USA
Workshop on Machine Consciousness within the KIMAS’09 Conference

There is an increasing interest in investigating the possibility of equipping machines with consciousness mechanisms. The rationale behind it may be just a further attempt to mimic biological minds but can be also a search for better performing architectures for machines. Whatever the reason one of the main problem is the still evolving understanding of biological consciousness.

The scientific study of consciousness has already provided some plausible models of this elusive phenomena. In some cases the postulated models stress its evolutionary functional value. This has led to an increasing interest from engineering, represented in the emergent community of machine consciousness, in the implementation of this functionality in machines, so as to provide them with enhanced cognitive capabilities for improved performance. However, a deeper theoretical comprehensive theory is needed in order to properly transfer the biologically inspired architectures into robust, functional implementations.

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Mind that Abides

Mind that Abides. Panpsychism in the new millennium

Edited by David Skrbina. University of Michigan at Dearborn
Advances in Consciousness Research, 75
Benjamins Publishing Company.
2009. xiv, 401 pp. John.

Panpsychism is the view that all things, living and nonliving, possess some mind like quality. It stands in sharp contrast to the traditional notion of mind as the property of humans and (perhaps) a few select ‘higher animals’. Though surprising at first glance, panpsychism has a long and noble history in both Western and Eastern thought. Overlooked by analytical, materialist philosophy for most of the 20th century, it is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts in several areas of inquiry. A number of recent books – including Skrbina’s Panpsychism in the West (2005) and Strawson et al’s Consciousness and its Place in Nature (2006) – have established panpsychism as respectable and viable. Mind That Abides builds on these works. It takes panpsychism to be a plausible theory of mind and then moves forward to work out the philosophical, psychological and ethical implications. With 17 contributors from a variety of fields, this book promises to mark a wholesale change in our philosophical outlook.

 Table of contents

Acknowledgements & dedication
1. Panpsychism in history: An overview
David Skrbina
Part I. Analysis and science
2. Realistic monism: Why physicalism entails panpsychism, and on the Sesmet theory of subjectivity

Galen Strawson
3. Halting the descent into panpsychism: A quantum thermofield theoretical perspective

Gordon G. Globus
4. Mind under matter

Sam Coleman
5. The conscious connection: A psycho-physical bridge between brain and pan-experiential quantum geometry

Stuart R. Hameroff and Jon Powell
6. Can the panpsychist get around the combination problem?

Phil Goff
7. Universal correlates of consciousness

Stephen Deiss
8. Panpsychism, the Big-Bang-Argument, and the dignity of life

Patrick Spät
Part II. Process philosophy
9. Back to Whitehead? Galen Strawson and the rediscovery of panpsychism

Pierfrancesco Basile
10. Does process externalism support panpsychism? The relational nature of the physical world as a foundation for the conscious mind

Riccardo Manzotti
11. The dynamics of possession: An introduction to the sociology of Gabriel Tarde

Didier Debaise
12. Finite eventism

Carey R. Carlson
Part III. Metaphysics and mind
13. Zero-person and the psyche

Graham Harman
14. “All things think:” Panpsychism and the metaphysics of nature

Iain Hamilton Grant
15. ‘Something there?’ James and Fechner meet in a Pluralistic Universe

Katrin Solhdju
16. Panpsychic presuppositions of Samkhya metaphysics

Jaison A. Manjaly
17. The awareness of rock: East-Asian understandings and implications

Graham Parkes
18. Why has the West failed to embrace panpsychism?

Freya Mathews
19. Minds, objects, and relations: Toward a dual-aspect ontology

David Skrbina

The Development and Analysis of Conscious Machines

The Development and Analysis of Conscious Machines

“The Development and Analysis of Conscious Machines” is the title of the PhD thesis written and developed by David Gamez at the Department of Computing and Electronic Systems, University of Essex.

This thesis can be viewed and downloaded from, a site which also contains data files, source code, and supporting materials. Resources you shouldn’t miss in you are interested in Machine Consciousness and Synthetic Phenomenology.



The thirteenth annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) will be held from 5 till 8 June 2009 at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

ASSC XIII is intended to promote interdisciplinary dialogue in the scientific study of consciousness. ASSC members as well as non-members are encouraged to submit contributions that address current empirical and theoretical issues in the study of consciousness, from the perspectives of philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, computer science, and cognitive ethology. ASSC XIII will provide an excellent opportunity for the presentation of new empirical findings or novel theoretical perspectives in an atmosphere that will promote discussion and debate.

John-Dylan Haynes, Michael Pauen, and Patrick Wilken



Axel Cleeremans

Axel Cleeremans

Research Directors with the NFSR. Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.

His research interests include Consciousness, Computational Models of Cognition, Implicit Learning, and Cognitive Science.

 Axel Cleeremans is research director, N.F.S.R. Consciousness, Cognition & Computation Group (CO3) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Belgium.

Cleeremans is doing active research in the area of consciousness and Machine Consciousness. For more information, visit his homepage and the CO3 website:

Consciousness Evolves Besides Genetics

Raúl Arrabales Moreno, Machine Consciousness researcher at Carlos III University of Madrid


By Ana María Jaramillo V. (Translation of interview published by Blog Sistemas Inteligentes)

Inspired by the Strong Artificial Intelligence school, the same that captivated audiences in movies like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘2001 Space Odyssey’, this engineer by profession, multidisciplinary scientist by passion, believes the ultimate goal of Machine Consciousness research is to understand human nature. He pursues, as only a few do, the dream of creating self-conscious robots, as he asserts the best way to prove that something is understood is by recreating it.

Arrabales believes the real advancement of this field will come thanks to the synergy between mind research and technological disciplines. He knows he will live to see important qualitative changes and advocates the application of cognitive models from psychology or neurology to computational architectures.

This young scientist works in a controversial but fascinating field, where everyday research can be turned into fantasy, raising questions about free will and determinism in both humans and their creations.

AMJ: From what I understood reading you blog, you believe in the creation of artificial consciousness, don’t you?

RA: Yes, I believe so. However, it is not clear to me when and to what degree we will achieve this goal. Actually, one of the most important research lines I am currently working on is focused on the measure of the degree of artificial consciousness. There is no consensus about how to address this challenge. In fact, we don’t have a clear answer about the degree of consciousness of a coma patient. The definition of the term consciousness is a problem itself.

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