Robot Consciousness

Authored by: Jonathan Waskan

The Routledge Handbook Of Consciousness

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936218
eBook ISBN: 9781315676982
Adobe ISBN:


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We are rapidly approaching the time when we will have to take seriously the possibility that such technological contrivances as computers, automated personal assistants, and, most relevant to the present volume, robots have become conscious in the sense that things seem to them a certain way. For instance, we may soon find ourselves wondering: When my robot looks at a red tomato, does it see the distinctive quality that I see? Does it look red to it? And if my robot is damaged, does it feel pain? Does it hurt? From Asimov’s Robot novels (which introduced the term ‘robotics’), to Star Trek and Terminator, these issues have been treated at length in science fiction, but more often than not the robots involved, whether R. Daneel, Data, or the T-800, are either devoid of real experience or claim to only have something going on in them not unlike a genuine human experience—for instance, they might have something that could be called pain. But what we want to know is whether they really do (or could) feel pain, see red, or what have you.

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