How These Self-Aware Robots Are Redefining Consciousness


What does it mean for a robot to be self-aware? That’s exactly what this robotics lab is investigating as they embark on a quest towards artificial consciousness.

*Please note: The quadruped robot is still a work in progress with results to come in the near future.

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The Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University
“At the Creative Machines Lab we build robots that do what you’d least expect robots to do: Self replicate, self-reflect, ask questions, and even be creative. We develop machines that can design and make other machines – automatically.”

The Challenge of Determining Whether an A.I. Is Sentient
“It is not easy to determine when an organism is sentient, however. A brief recount of past and present controversies and mistakes makes it clear that human beings are not great at recognizing sentience.”

What would it mean for AI to have a soul?
“Artificial intelligences (AI) like Siri are less situated than humans to answer questions about religion and spirituality. Existential angst, ethical inquiries, theological considerations: these belong exclusively to the domain of Homo Sapiens. Or so we assume.”


Imagine living in a world where Westworld or I, Robot was our reality—how long do we have until science fiction becomes real? With continuously advancing artificial intelligence, are conscious robots on the horizon?

Researchers have been making huge advances in robotics for decades, but engineers investigating these philosophical questions has not always been a widely supported endeavor.

Experts from the likes of Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk have warned about the dangers of advancing AI, cautioning against a future where artificial intelligence outsmarts us and progresses to a point beyond human control.

Inside his Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, Hod Lipson and his students are taking the first steps toward sentient machines.

Hod’s lab is taking a unique approach. Instead of trying to understand and replicate something as complicated as human consciousness, they’re looking into something a little simpler: the ability to imagine yourself–or self-simulate.

Learn more about the future of self-aware robots and the complexities of creating sentient machines on this episode of Focal Point.

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