David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In M. Ito, Y. Miyashita & Edmund T. Rolls (eds.), Cognition, Computation and Consciousness. Oxford University Press (1997)
The best reason for believing that robots might some day become conscious is that we human beings are conscious, and we are a sort of robot ourselves. That is, we are extraordinarily complex self-controlling, self-sustaining physical mechanisms, designed over the eons by natural selection, and operating according to the same well-understood principles that govern all the other physical processes in living things: digestive and metabolic processes, self-repair and reproductive processes, for instance. It may be wildly over-ambitious to suppose that human artificers can repeat Nature's triumph, with variations in material, form, and design process, but this is not a deep objection. It is not as if a conscious machine contradicted any fundamental laws of nature, the way a perpetual motion machine does. Still, many skeptics believe--or in any event want to believe--that it will never be done. I wouldn't wager against them, but my reasons for skepticism are mundane, economic reasons, not theoretical reasons.
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