Hod Lipson, the mechanical engineer in charge of Columbia University’s Creative Machines Lab, is working on a machine that will surpass “everything else we’ve done” and have “consciousness on par with a human.”
Lipson is of the opinion that conscious robots might even be able to eradicate cancer.
Although the technological obstacle to achieving consciousness is one of the most contentious issues in artificial intelligence, the term itself is philosophically hazy and subjectively defined.
The New York Times reports that scientists are attempting to link consciousness to specific brain functions, but their efforts always fail.
In his own words, Lipson defines consciousness as the capacity to “imagine yourself in the future.”
He has worked to create machines with general intelligence that can learn to evolve through machine-learned natural selection and respond to shifting environments, errors, or bodily harm.
Machines will be able to envision ways in which they can better evolve in addition to learning and correcting themselves.
Researchers hope that robots will be able to adopt human traits and qualities, projecting humanity onto conscious machines, just as humans anthromorphise human traits onto non-humans, particularly machines.