A new frontier in Artifical Intelligence
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Creating an Artificially Conscious Agent

I am interested in the question: How could an artificial agent be programmed to simulate having consciousness?

The literature on Artificial Consciousness, also frequently referred to as “Machine Consciousness”, does not seem to go any way at all towards providing an answer. I have books on the subject, such as the compilations "Artificial Consciousness", edited by Antonio Chella & Riccardo Manzotti; and "Machine Consciousness" edited by Own Holland. I have done the usual trawl employing Google and its scholarly cousin, and querying Citeseer. I have examined the contents lists of journals such as "International Journal of Machine Consciousness" and "Journal of Consciousness Studies". I have asked a few experts in the field. Nowhere and no-one appears able to point me in the right direction.

Clearly I am not alone in my frustration at this lack of practical progress in the field. A 2010 paper on the topic: "Machine Consciousness: A Computational Model" by Janusz A. Starzyk and Dilip K. Prasad opens with the observation that:

"Despite many efforts, there are no computational models of consciousness that can be used to design conscious intelligent machines."

Is it not about time that more of the research effort applied by the Artificial Consciousness community was aimed at the creation of practical answers to my opening question? Why have there not been (so far as I can tell) any workshops or conferences or special issues of journals devoted to this important practical aspect of Artificial Consciousness. There is much in the AC literature to interest philosophers, and in fact a recent workshop for which I registered was devoted almost entirely to philosophical aspects of AC, despite being organized by a society whose raisons d’ętre are artificial intelligence and the simulation of behaviour.

If anyone reading this knows of any practical (and published) efforts towards programming artificial agents to simulate consciousness, please make contact with me. And to the community as a whole I make this request ‒ let us soon see the creation of a new branch of Artificial Consciousness, a branch devoted to "how to" rather than merely "what if?"

David Levy
Intelligent Toys Ltd, London
davidlevylondon [{ AT }]

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