Evolutionary pressures for perceptual stability and self as guides to machine consciousness

Document Type: 
Theory of Consciousness
machine consciousness
Journal/Publication Title: 
International Journal of Machine Consciousness
Official URL: 
Publish status: 
The currently leading cognitive theory of consciousness, Global Workspace Theory (Baars 1988, 2003), postulates that the primary functions of consciousness include a global broadcast serving to recruit internal resources with which to deal with the current situation and to modulate several types of learning. In addition, conscious experiences present current conditions and problems to a “self” system, an executive interpreter that is identifiable with brain structures like the frontal lobes and precuneus (Baars, 1988). Be it human, animal or artificial, an autonomous agent (Franklin and Graesser 1997) is said to be functionally consciousness if its control structure (mind) implements Global Workspace Theory and the LIDA Cognitive Cycle, which includes unconscious memory and control functions needed to integrate the conscious component of the system. We would therefore consider humans, many animals (Seth, Baars, and Edelman 2005) and even some virtual or robotic agents (Franklin 2003, Shanahan 2006) to be functionally consciousness. Such entities may approach phenomenal consciousness, as found in human and other biological brains, as additional brain-like features are added. Here we argue that adding mechanisms to produce a stable, coherent perceptual field (Merker 2005) in a LIDA controlled mobile robot might provide a small but significant step toward phenomenal consciousness in machines (Franklin, 2005). We also propose that implementing several of the various notions of self in such a LIDA controlled robot may well prove another step toward phenomenal consciousness in machines.