Emotion, Cognition and Artificial Intelligence

Minds and Machines 24 (2):189-199 (2014)
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Some have claimed that since machines lack emotional “qualia”, or conscious experiences of emotion, machine intelligence will fall short of human intelligence. I examine this objection, ultimately finding it unpersuasive. I first discuss recent work on emotion that suggests that emotion plays various roles in cognition. I then raise the following question: are phenomenal experiences of emotion an essential or necessary component of the performance of these cognitive abilities? I then sharpen the question by distinguishing between four possible positions one might take. I reject one of these four positions largely on empirical grounds. But the remaining three positions all suggest that even if emotional qualia play an important role in human cognition, emotional qualia are not essential to the performance of these cognitive abilities in principle, so, e.g., a machine that lacks emotional qualia might still be able to perform them.



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Jason Megill
Bentley College