Organoids, Androids and the Consciousness Club 


At present, the creation of conscious agents involves techniques that will be familiar to anyone who has spent time on a farm or taken a sex education class. These techniques will surely remain popular, but we may soon have new ways to create conscious agents. One possible path to synthetic consciousness involves human brain organoids; another involves AI systems, such as the descendants of IBM’s Watson and DeepMind’s AlphaZero. Even if neither of these paths do in fact lead to the creation of synthetic consciousness, they are likely to lead to the creation of artefacts that might reasonably be taken as conscious. These developments raise a number of deep and difficult questions. Should we expand the membership of the ‘consciousness club’ by creating new kinds of conscious agents, or would any attempt to bring new kinds of conscious entities into existence be morally problematic? Whose interests should we take into account in considering whether or not to create synthetic consciousness? What difference would (or should) consciousness make to our treatment of artefacts? This talk explores these (and other) questions, focusing on how debates about the nature of consciousness might influence their answers.    

About the Speaker:

Professor Tim Bayne is a philosopher of mind and cognitive science, with a particular interest in the nature of consciousness. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at Monash University (Melbourne), having taught previously at Macquarie University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford. He is the author of The Unity of Consciousness (2010) and Thought: A Very Short Introduction (2013), and an editor of Delusion and Self-Deception (2008), The Oxford Companion to Consciousness (2009) and Cognitive Phenomenology (2011). His current research concerns the measurement of consciousness, and whether it is possible to build a consciousness meter. Other research interests include the nature of conscious thought, disorders of consciousness and taxonomy in psychiatry. He is a member of the CIFAR Brain, Mind and Consciousness program. 

Date/Day: 10 April 2023, Monday

Time: 4.30pm - 6.00pm

Venue: SHHK Auditorium (Level B1-14)

In-person Registration: Click here

Livestreaming on YouTube: Click here