Designing A Conscious Robot

By Leo Gura - January 24, 2017

Imagine you were designing a conscious robot. Notice that in the beginning, from the robot’s “point of view”, none of following exists:

  • A sense of self
  • A sense of other
  • A sense of world
  • A sense of space being 3-dimensional
  • A sense of time
  • A sense that there exists an “external” world out there, beyond the robot
  • A sense of clearly delimited objects or “things”
  • A sense of death
  • A sense of meaning of any kind. No judgments of good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, right, wrong, pretty, ugly, etc.
  • A sense of big vs small, up vs down, thin vs thick, etc.
  • A sense of logic or rationality
  • A sense of personal story or life narrative
  • A sense of life at all
  • A sense of vision
  • A sense of feeling
  • A sense of hearing
  • A sense of location
  • A point of view

The robot would have zero sense of any of this! Meaning… the most self-evident aspects of reality which we consider “essential” to how we understand reality, would be utterly absent.

There doesn’t even exist a point of view!

In other words, all of these “essential” aspects are NOT as essential as we like to believe.

All of these things which we take as a given as humans, have to be constructed! They are not givens or fundamental aspects of reality AT ALL! They must be created. As for HOW are they created? Well… that’s another matter. One that humanity isn’t evolved enough yet to answer. It’s reasonable to suspect that there are probably many different ways to create them, be it via a human body/mind organism, or a robot/cpu machine, or something entirely alien to our imagination. But the important point is to see that they were created. This means we cannot take them as absolutes, or indubitable or self-evident truths.

What would be it like if you regressed to the point of view of this robot, before anything about reality was a given?

Or, imagine how else the robot’s basic map of reality might work. What if there are an infinite number of ways to “see” reality?

Imagine that 10,000 years from now humans create a robot who can see in 4-dimensions, has 3 totally new forms of perception currently unknown to us, and doesn’t have a sense of location, or rationality, or clearly delimited “objects”. Imagine what it would be like to be that robot! What kind of consciousness would it have? And what would that say about your notions of what reality is?

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