If consciousness is an algorithm, then a robot can be conscious

Robots might able to think for themselves one day. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive Rapid advances in artificial intelligence technology are raising ethical questions, as pointed out by Dr Jason Millar (“The momentous advance in artificial intelligence demands a new set of ethics”, Comment). He asks whether it is desirable to develop autonomous systems that operate beyond human control. Other ethical dilemmas may arise sooner than we think. While many have poured scorn on the idea that robots could possess consciousness, if consciousness can be interpreted as an algorithm – a series of logical cause-and-effect statements – then, because the output of an algorithm is platform-independent, there is no reason in principle why that algorithm should not operate in a robot. There is a debate as to whether brain activity is…

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