Virtual Machines and Consciousness

Sloman, A. and Chrisley, R. (2003) Virtual Machines and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10 (4-5). pp. 133-172. ISSN 1355-8250

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Abstract

Replication or even modelling of consciousness in machines requires some clarifications and refinements of our concept of consciousness. Design of, construction of, and interaction with artificial systems can itself assist in this conceptual development. We start with the tentative hypothesis that although the word 'consciousness' has no well-defined meaning, it is used to refer to aspects of human and animal information processing. We then argue that we can enhance our understanding of what these aspects might be by designing and building virtual- machine architectures capturing various features of consciousness. This activity may in turn nurture the development of our concepts of consciousness, showing how an analysis based on information processing virtual machines answers old philosophical puzzles as well enriching empirical theories. This process of developing and testing ideas by developing and testing designs leads to gradual refinement of many of our pre-theoretical concepts of mind, showing how they can be construed as implicitly 'architecture-based' concepts. Understanding how human-like robots with appropriate architectures are likely to feel puzzled about qualia may help us resolve those puzzles. The concept of 'qualia' turns out to be an 'architecture-based' concept, while individual qualia concepts are 'architecture-driven'.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA0075 Electronic computers. Computer science
Depositing User: Chris Keene
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2008
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2017 09:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1278
Google Scholar:124 Citations

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