Lecture by Kevin O'Regan BCBT11
How to Make a Robot that Feels
Consciousness is often considered to have a "hard" part and a not-so-hard part. With the help of work in artificial intelligence and more recently in embodied robotics, there is hope that we shall be able solve the not-so-hard part and make artificial agents that understand their environment, communicate with their friends, and have a notion of "self" and "others". But will such agents feel anything? Building the feel into the agent will be the "hard" part.
I shall explain how action provides a solution. Taking the stance that feel is a way of acting in the world provides a way of accounting for what has been considered the mystery of "qualia", namely why there is something it's like to have a sensory experience, why this something is very difficult to describe to others and even to oneself, why sensory experiences can nevertheless be compared and contrasted.
The approach I suggest is called the "sensorimotor" approach, and it provides a solution to the "hard" problem of phenomenal consciousness. As an application of this approach, I shall show how it explains why colors are the way they are, that is, why they are experienced as colors rather than say sounds or smells, and why for example the color red looks red to us, rather than looking green, say, or feeling like the sound of a bell. I shall also show applications to the localisation of touch and to sensory substitution, where one sense modality is replaced by another.
-Video to be uploaded soon-