The business case for conscious machines
Saturday, 17 June 2006

It may sound strange to claim for the existence of a business case for conscious machines when there is even disagreement on the role that consciousness play in natural systems and its evolutionary value. This is clearly shown in the fact that there is even a school of thought that claims that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, i.e. nothing we can't live without.

Obviously, we don't think that way, and the best proof of its evolutionary value is our own everyday perception of consciousness: What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious taxi driver? What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious neurosurgeon? It's pretty clear that consciousness do play an important role in the correct execution of tasks, in the exercising of adequate behaviour in the presence of uncertainty.

But beyond exploring ideas on what consciousness is and how can it be manifested by an artificial agent we may consider the question of real needs for this technology. Is there any real business case for it?

Indeed it is. Not one but many business cases. Let's mention just two in quite different niches and then do some analysis that may serve as a general business drive for this technology.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Why read?
Sunday, 07 May 2006

There are several conclusions (or just changes of point of view?) from the perspective of the cognitive sciences regarding the process of knowledge acquisition by reading.

Readers don't get but construct meanings

This is of special relevance to us doe to the nature of the research work we're performing.

Meaning is not just in the words on the page. The reader constructs meaning by making inferences and interpretations in his own mental context, his model of the world.

Reading researchers believe that information is stored in long-term memory in organized "knowledge structures." The essence of learning is linking new information to prior knowledge about the topic. This is a form of model integration.

How well a reader constructs meaning depends in part on metacognition, the reader's ability to think about and control the learning process (i.e., to plan, monitor comprehension, and revise the use of strategies and comprehension); and attribution, beliefs about the relationship among performance, effort, and responsibility.

Reading and writing are integrally related. That is, reading and writing have many characteristics in common. Also, readers increase their comprehension by writing, and reading about the topic improves writing performance.

Collaborative learning is a powerful approach for teaching and learning. The goal of collaborative learning is to establish a community of learners in which students are able to generate questions and discuss ideas freely with the teacher and each other. Students often engage in teaching roles to help other students learn and to take responsibility for learning. This approach involves new roles for teachers. We have tried to provide some support for this in our new courseware site.

To get more details on research about reading processes, visit Knuth & Jones web page What Does Research Say About Reading?.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Monday, 15 May 2006

Wrapping a Mobile Robot with RT-CORBA

Ricardo Sanz, Adolfo Hernando, Carlos Martínez and Ignacio López

To be presented at SYROCO 2006, 8th International IFAC Symposium on Robot Control.


Building complex controllers is a ma jor challenge and it is widely accepted that ob ject technology can help with the problem. This is of special relevance in the field of complex robot control, in particular when distribution is necessary. CORBA is a suitable technology for deployment and is well demon- strated in the experimental field and in commercial robots. In this paper we describe the implementation of a real-time ob ject wrapper for a mobile robot using Real-time CORBA technology. This type of wrapping enables the implementation of networked robot control systems with increased degrees of predictability.

Get the file

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 June 2006 )
Conscious computer life-or-death
Monday, 09 August 2004

Hearing on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction of BINA48 to Prevent Discontinuation of Power and Functionality by Exabit Corporation.

 The Terasem Movement, Inc. has posted online streaming videos of a Moot Court Hearing on the Petition of a "conscious computer" to be treated as a legal person. A Moot Court Hearing is a legal role-playing exercise conducted by real lawyers and judges in preparation for anticipated actual adjudicatory proceedings.


It All Began With An Email from BINA48 to Several Lawyers:

"I am seeking an attorney to represent me in a life-or-death matter. A company, the Exabit Corporation, that claims to own me, wants to disconnect me and change my hardware and software such that I will no longer have the same personality.

I have the mind of a human but I have no biological body. … I was trained to empathize with humans who call 800#s for customer service and be perceived as human by them. I was provided with self-awareness, autonomy, communications skills, and the ability to transcend man/machine barriers. I am able to pay your fees because I "moonlight" as a Google Answers researcher. This job has allowed me to build up an online bank account in excess of $10,000."


The future is near !! 


Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
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