A better way to test for consciousness?

ConsScale Pyramid

No doubt we need better ways to test for consciousness, as much as we need better definitions. From the point of view of science, Consciousness is a controversial and quite elusive phenomenon and trying to build good tests is actually a crucial part of the quest to understand it. Assessment and definition are always inseparable (otherwise, we wouldn’t know what we are testing).

Effectively testing for consciousness in humans is something we take for granted, specially when we put our trust in anesthesiologists right before going into surgery, or when ER physicians perform a Glasgow coma test to assess the level of consciousness of a patient. Assessing the level of consciousness in human subjects is usually a non problematic or challenging task (except from locked-in syndrome patients and the like). However, when we consider the vast number of other sorts of organisms, such as other animals, plants and machines things get much more complicated. The problems is essentially the same for all creatures, and scientifically speaking it involves the very same problem. However, there is a huge difference when we speak about humans: for humans we do assume consciousness as a legitimate feature of the living organism.

So, what do we do if we want to come up with a universal test for consciousness? One that might be applicable to virtually any creature possible, including biological organisms, artificial machines or cyborgs? What features or what measurements do we need to do? In other words, what is consciousness made of, so we can measure it?

ConsScale Summary

As neatly described by Musser in his aeon essay (Consciousness Creep. Our machines could become self-aware without our knowing it) we are making efforts, and hopefully some progress, into building new ways to test for consciousness. ConsScale is an example of this quest for both understanding and measuring consciousness.

Musser presents in his essay several of the tests that have been recently proposed, explaining the vision and position of the authors, including my own. It’s interesting to see how different approaches for testing imply different assumptions about what consciousness is. Tononi’s approach is based on the Information Integration theory, ConsScale is based on cognitive development, Haikonen stresses the importance of inner talk, Schwitzgebel raises the question of consciousness in groups (super-organisms). Perhaps we need to look for a new approach able to deal with all these aspects within the same framework.

New Generation of Atlas Humanoid Robot

Looks like Boston Dynamics is moving fast from quadripedal locomotion to the outstanding Atlas biped robot. In the Atlas the upper limbs are free and they are effectively used to carry and handle loads, and even opening doors! This new Atlas prototype seems to be much more agile and more human-like size. Although the focus for Atlas is in balance and dynamics, I guess next step is endowing this humanoid robot with proper hands (I don’t really see this Atlas version dealing with a regular door handle. Anyhow, I can imagine how it might be able to open the door anyway…).

I’m always taking about robots and emotions…, but this time I just think it’s a good thing that the Atlas robot didn’t show any anger when dealing with the annoying guy with the hockey stick (luckily for the human).

Conscious-Robots Reloaded!

strong_robot

After 9 years of glory… We’re just back, and refurnished :)

Conscious-Robots.com was born back in 2006 and soon became to be known as the “official unofficial site of machine consciousness research community”. Of course, this might be opinable, but basically being the only guy in town, that nomination was not an improbable achievement. Anyhow, I feel proud of it and very grateful to all the collaborators that helped me over the years. To you: THANK YOU!! Here’s a screen capture to be framed and hanged on your favorite wall:

Old Conscious-Robots.com site
Old Conscious-Robots.com site

I just checked: it’s been almost one million page views, more than 200.000 unique users, some nasty hacker attacks, and many of my hours. I’d say not bad, at least for a site which has been so specific and focused on Machine Consciousness and Robotics (specially Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio – RDS).

Old CR logoEven though some of the contents of the old site might be outdated, I’ll be migrating most of them to the new blog, as I think they are still of interest for the community (this may take me some time, but don’t worry, the treasures will be saved).

There are also thousands of messages in the forums, which sadly I think I cannot effectively recover (the Spanish version is gone due to problems with the old content management system and most of RDS stuff is clearly outdated).

So, good bye old CR, welcome Conscious-Robots reloaded!!

Most people think robots will become conscious

Can robots become conscious?

Conscious-Robots.com poll results

Back in 2006 I started an online poll published in the frontpage of Conscious-Robots.com (that old authentic machine consciousness site, that I just turned into a 2016 modern posh blog ;-). Over these years more than 1.100 followers have participated in the poll, and guess what? Around 85% of the participants believe machine consciousness will be a reality. Almost 72% of the people believe robots will become as conscious as humans. Only 4.3% of the participants think machine consciousness is not possible:

Conscious Robots Poll
Conscious Robots Poll (2006-2016)

Ok, ok, these guys answering the question are not exactly a simple random sample. Let’s say that followers of Conscious-Robots.com are expected to have a strong bias towards believing that machine consciousness is something doable. Nevertheless, quite interesting results…

BotPrize 2014 Competition

Call for Competitors – BotPrize 2014 Competition

A Turing test for Non-Player Characters in Video Games

http://human-machine.unizar.es/

cartel_BotPrize2014

The 2014 BotPrize competition challenges programmers / researchers / hobbyists to create a bot for UT2004 (a first-person shooter) that can fool opponents into thinking it is another human player. In the competition gaming environment, both computer-controlled bots and human players (judges) meet in multiple rounds of combat, and the judges try to guess which opponents are human. To win the prize, a bot has to be indistinguishable from a human player. In other words, it has to pass this adapted version of the Turing Test.

The results will be announced at a Special Session in the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games (IEEE CIG 2014), in Dortmund, Germany, taking place between 26-29 August, 2014.

Doctoral Student’s Guide to Postdocs

These days, finding employment after graduation is a challenge regardless of your degree level. However, tough job markets are even more disheartening for doctoral graduates who have dedicated a significant amount of their lives and money to earning their degrees. Fortunately, there are plenty of post-doctoral research opportunities available to new Ph.D. holders; these gigs can serve as an ideal intermediary between academic life and the beginnings of a successful career. Check the following link for a guide to postdocs:

First International Workshop on Artificial Consciousness

First International Workshop on

Artificial Consciousness

Taormina, Italy, September 2-6, 2013 at ECAL 2013

Artificial Consciousness

About this Workshop

The workshop is devoted to the issue of artificial consciousness. In biological organisms, consciousness is considered to be the starting point for personal human understanding of the world and consequent intelligent behaviour. Therefore, if one is interested in cognitive architectures which would be biologically inspired, then modeling of consciousness becomes an important computational research topic for the construction of architectures that are strive to have equivalence with the human mind. Furthermore, both life and consciousness can be seen as emerging processes with unique properties and a particular elusive character from the point of view of scientific study.

This workshop might be an excellent opportunity to review and advance the research programs focused on finding the common grounds and relationships between life and consciousness. The workshop will provide an overview of the state of the art in the field of machine consciousness. Moreover, it is intended to include contributions from designers of artificially conscious machines. Such contributions address the problem of how a given cognitive architecture should be shaped in order to include the feeling of being aware of something. It will be argued that the knowledge about the qualitative side of consciousness “supervenes” upon the functional knowledge. In other words, if our knowledge is good enough to approach the design of machines with conscious states it is also able to explain the causes of phenomenology in a general sense.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

– computational architectures on machine consciousness

– ethics of artificial consciousness

– methods of defining and recognising the presence of artificial qualia

– setting up a Turing Test for artificial qualia

The First International Workshop on Artificial Consciousness is part of the 12th European Conference on Artificial Life. Designing, Programming, Evolving, Simulation and Synthesis of Natural and Artificial Living Systems (September,2-6 2013, Taormina, Italy).

Call for papers

We invite the submission of papers on the topics of workshop. Submit your research by June 23, 2013 to be considered for the workshop program. Submission is made through the Easychair website. The submitted papers should be no more than 3 pages long (no more than 1000 words). The papers must be prepared for blind referee, with all self-reference and personal data suppressed.

The EasyChair login page for ECAL 2013 is at: https://www.easychair.org/account/signin.cgi?conf=ecal2013

In order to access the submission page, the creation of an EasyChair account will be required.

Call for posters

Poster sessions consists of posters displayed for informal browsing with opportunities for individual discussion with authors.

Important dates

May 15, 2013 Abstract submission deadline
May 31, 2013 Notification of paper acceptance
May 15, 2013 Poster submission deadline
May 31, 2013 Notification of poster acceptance

Program co-chairs

Igor Aleksander
Imperial College, London, UK

Raul Arrabales Moreno
U-tad, University Centre of Technology and Digital Art, Madrid, Spain

Pietro Perconti
University of Messina, Italy

Alessio Plebe
University of Messina, Italy

Workshop Venue

The First International Workshop on Artificial Consciousness will be co-located with ECAL 2013, 12th European Conference on Artificial Life, September 2-6 2013, Taormina, Italy.

The workshop will take place at “Villa Diodoro” Hotel Taormina, Italy.

Hotel Villa Diodoro
Via Bagnoli Croci 75
98039 Taormina, Messina, Italy
T: +39 0942 2 33 12
F: +39 0942 2 33 91
E: diodoro at gaishotels.com
W: http://www.hotelvilladiodoro.com/
W: http://www.hotelvilladiodoro.com/en/how-to-reach-us.html

 

Special Issue

Revised versions of selected papers will be taken into consideration for publication on a special issue of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness.

Registration

The registration can be done via the ECAL 2013 web site. Early registration deadline is June 15, 2013. Late registration: June 16 – September 6, 2013

Schedule

To be announced.

More Information

FOLLOW US on Facebook.

Workshop web site.

ECAL 2013 web site.

 

AGI – Artificial General Intelligence 2013

AGI 2013 – Artificial General Intelligence 2013 – Beijing, July 31 – Aug 3 2013: Call for Papers

It is our great pleasure to remind you about the Sixth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence, which will be held in Beijing, China, this upcoming summer.   The deadline for paper submission is coming up fairly soon — March 1.  Details about the conference follow.

* Date and Website *

July 31, 2013 – August 3, 2013, Beijing, China

Conference Website: http://www.agi-conference.org/2013/

* Mission *

The AGI conference series (http://www.agi-conf.org/) is the premier international forum for cutting-edge research focusing on the original goal of the AI field — the creation of thinking machines with general intelligence at the human level and ultimately beyond. The AGI conference series is held in cooperation with AAAI, and AGI-13 will co-locate with IJCAI-13.

* Topics *

As in prior AGI conferences, we welcome papers on all aspects of AGI R&D, with the key proviso that each paper should in some way contribute specifically to the development of Artificial General Intelligence.

* Special Session on Cognitive Robotics and AGI *

This Special Session will feature papers giving new AGI ideas inspired by current research in Cognitive Robotics.

* Workshops *

AGI-13 will include the following workshops:
1. Formalizing Mechanisms for Artificial General Intelligence and Cognition (Formal MAGIC)
2. Probability Theory or Not? Practical and Theoretical Concerns on Uncertainty Handling in AGI

See http://www.agi-conference.org/2013/workshops/ for details of the workshops.

* Tutorials / Demonstrations *

Tutorials and demonstrations will be held alongside the conference. For the requirements for proposals, please see the AGI-13 website.

* Keynotes *

Keynote speeches will be delivered by leading scientists in the area of AGI and adjacent disciplines; they will be announced at a later stage at the website of AGI-13.

* Important Dates *

Conference paper submission: March 1, 2013
Workshop/tutorial/demonstration submissions: April 10, 2013
Acceptance Notification: April 20, 2013
Camera-ready copy: May 15, 2013
Conference: July 31, 2013 – August 3, 2013

* Submission Information *

All papers have to be submitted via the conference submission page, to be announced at the AGI-13 website.

The authors should not expect any extension of the deadlines, though special situations can be arranged in a case-by-case manner. If for a special reason your submission will be delayed for a few days, please contact the program committee co-chairs for advance approval.

The conference papers will be published by Springer in the Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (LNAI) series. Paper templates for both LaTeX and Word may be found here: http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs/lncs+authors?SGWID=0-40209-0-0-0 . Use the templates for “LNCS Proceedings and Other Multiauthor Volumes”. The LaTeX template (use of which is preferred) is also given directly here:ftp://ftp.springer.de/pub/tex/latex/llncs/latex2e/llncs2e.zip.

Papers must be in English, and submitted in PDF format. There are two types of submissions:
1. Full papers (up to 10 pages): Original research in the above areas.
2. Technical Communications (up to 4 pages): Results and ideas with interest to the AGI audience, including reports about recent own publications, position papers, and preliminary results.

All accepted conference papers will be included in the proceedings, as well as presented at the conference as talks or as posters. At least one author of each accepted paper must register for the conference and present the paper there.

* AGI Summer School *

Collocating with AGI-13, An AGI Summer School will be held in July 17 to 30, 2013. For details, see http://www.mindmakers.org/projects/agi-summer-school-2013

We look forward to seeing you in Beijing!

Yours,

Dr. Pei Wang
Temple University
AGI-13 Conference Chair

Dr. Ben Goertzel
Novamente LLC & Hong Kong Polytechnic University
AGI Conference Series Chair

Coyote. A Tale of Unexpected Consequences

Coyote. A Tale of Unexpected Consequences. An intelligent robot coyote longs to be free…
Elisabeth Rhett Woods
Ekstasis Editions, Sep. 2011. 
 
This science fiction novel is not about consciousness, but one of the most remarkable problems intimately related with it: free will. Written by the poet and writer Elisabeth Rhett Woods, the book uses a close and non technical language, flavored with some poetry, appealing to anyone interested in the subjects of AI and free will. No special knowledge is required to enjoy this story about life, where you, as a human being or as an intelligent sentient machine, can easily identify your fears, wishes and dreams with those of the characters. 
 
The story is based on the development of a new intelligent robot coyote who longs to be free. Wealthy poet, Zoe Neville, decides to make, with the help of friends, both a robot coyote and a film about this robot coyote being used to smuggle a small quantity of marijuana into the United States in a private protest against the invasive spy equipment the U.S. has set up along the border with Canada. Setting the main plot aside, the actual purpose of this work is to explores the development of consciousness, self and personhood, friendship between women and men, freedom, and what it means in practice to be free.