The practical requirements for making a conscious robot

Abstract
Arguments about whether a robot could ever be conscious have been conducted up to now in the factually impoverished arena of what is possible "in principle." A team at MIT of which I am a part is now embarking on a longterm project to design and build a humanoid robot, Cog, whose cognitive talents will include speech, eye-coordinated manipulation of objects, and a host of self-protective, self-regulatory and self-exploring activities. The aim of the project is not to make a conscious robot, but to make a robot that can interact with human beings in a robust and versatile manner in real time, take care of itself, and tell its designers things about itself that would otherwise be extremely difficult if not impossible to determine by examination. Many of the details of Cog's "neural" organization will parallel what is known (or presumed known) about their counterparts in the human brain, but the intended realism of Cog as a model is relatively coarse-grained, varying opportunistically as a function of what we think we know, what we think we can build, and what we think doesn't matter. Much of what we think will of course prove to be mistaken; that is one advantage of real experiments over thought experiments
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