next up previous contents
Next: A conjecture about human Up: Making Robots Conscious Previous: Non-knowledge as failure

Humans and Robots


Human consciousness is undoubtedly more complicated than the design we propose for robots, but it isn't necessarily better.

The main complication I see is that human self observation, like human vision, is spotty. I pursue the analogy, because much more is accssible to observation and experiment with vision than with self observation.

Subjectively a person feels that he has a visual field with everything in the field accessible with approximately equal resolution. We also feel that colors are associated with points in the visual field. In fact, a person has a blind spot, resolution is much better in the small fovea than elsewhere, the perceived color of an object in the field has no simple relation to the light striking a corresponding point on the retina.

All this is because nature has evolved a vision system that finds out as much as possible about the world with very limited apparatus. For example, the usual objects have colors that can be recognized under varied lighting conditions as being the same color.

We have much less ability to observe human consciousness. However, it would be too good to be true if it consisted of a definite set of observable sentences.

John McCarthy
Mon Jul 15 13:06:22 PDT 2002