How Do You Build a Conscious Robot?

A conscious robot? Really? Most of us are at least a little bit familiar with subconscious thought and also conscious thought, but the surprising news that there are actually three types of consciousness according to a new study and review. In fact, these new concepts which may help scientists create fully conscious artificial intelligence (AI) as well one day. And even though this AI technology has advanced at an extremely rapid pace, there are still many ways in which computers fall way short of actual human performance which could affect building a conscious robot.

Artificial Intelligence is still Way Short of Human Consciousness

“Human consciousness is not just about recognizing patterns and crunching numbers quickly,” claims this study and review co-author Hakwan Lau, who is a neuroscientist from the University of California, Los Angeles. “Figuring out how to bridge the gap between human and artificial intelligence would be the holy grail.”

In order to deal with this controversial question asking if computers could ever develop a true consciousness, these scientists first wanted to figure out exactly how consciousness would arise within the human brain. While they are attempting this, they were able to outline these three levels of consciousness.

Three Levels of Consciousness Have Been Discovered

And the three levels might become a road map for creating a real conscious AI. “If you want to make your robots conscious, this is what we suggest you think about,” Lau said.

The first of these levels is called C0. This consciousness level pertains to the unconscious functions which take place inside human brains, like speech and face recognition, according to this recent review. The majority of calculations performed by the brain will occur at this level, the scientists claim — in other words, folks are not even aware that these functions and calculations are even taking place.

In spite of recent developments within AI technology, machines still function mostly at this consciousness level, the entire researchers claim.

The second consciousness level is called C1, which encompasses the ability to process decisions after sorting through a huge repertoire of thoughts and evaluating lots of possibilities. The scientists suggest this ability to have a thought which could dominate the mind has evolved to guide a huge variety of behaviors.

C1 has even been observed within human infants and even in animals. For example, the researchers observed that thirsty elephants knew how to find and go to the nearest water hole, even one that was 30 miles away. Decision-making at this level requires a lot of neural circuits to collect information from either memory or the environment, then pick the best option among many, and carry out this one decision across time while conducting an amalgam of operations, like navigating terrains to accomplish the final goal.

In humans as well as other primates, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain functions as the central hub to process information, where lots of actions as described within C1 consciousness are taking place.

The last level is called C2 which involves “metacognition,” a term for abilities to evaluate your thoughts and also computations — or the capability to become self-aware. Consciousness at the C2 level will result in feelings that are subjective, which allow people to realize their mistakes and then make corrections. Self-awareness is what also allows people to figure out the things they know and the things they do not know which will lead to curiosity. They see curiosity as a trigger that pushes people to learn more about what they know or don’t know.

The researchers have pointed out that there are actually some robots that have accomplished a portion of C2 consciousness, as they evaluate their progress in learning to solve problems. However, researchers suggest that human consciousness could be developed from certain specific computations. “Once we can spell out in computational terms what the differences may be in humans between conscious and unconsciousness, coding that into computers may not be that hard,” Lau said. So much for the conscious robot.