The debate about whether a machine could be conscious under any circumstances
is usually described as the conflict between physicalism and dualism.
Dualists believe that there is something non-physical about consciousness
whilst physicalists hold that all things are physical.
Physicalists are not limited to those who hold that consciousness is
a property of encoded information on carrier signals. Several indirect
realist philosophers and scientists have proposed that, although information
processing might deliver the content of consciousness, the state that
is consciousness is due to some other physical phenomenon. The eminent
neurologist Wilder Penfield was of this opinion and scientists such as
Arthur Stanley Eddington, Roger Penrose, Hermann Weyl, Karl Pribram, and
Henry Stapp amongst many others have also proposed that consciousness
involves physical phenomena subtler than information processing. Even
some of the most ardent supporters of consciousness in information processors
such as Daniel Dennett suggest that some new, emergent, scientific theory
may be required to account for consciousness.
As was mentioned above, neither the ideas that involve direct perception
nor those that involve models of the world in the brain seem to be compatible
with current physical theory. It seems that new physical theory may be
required and the possibility of dualism is not, as yet, ruled out.
Consciousness in digital computers:
There are various aspects of consciousness generally deemed necessary
for a machine to be artificially conscious. This list is not exhaustive;
there are many othesrs not covered.
Artificial consciousness as a field of study:
The term "artificial consciousness" was used by several scientists
including Professor Igor Aleksander, a faculty member at the Imperial
College in London, England -
Testing for artificial consciousness:
Unless artificial consciousness can be proven formally, judgments of the
success of any implementation will depend on observation. Read more...
The ethics of artificial consciousness:
In the absence of a true physical understanding of consciousness researchers
do not even know why they want to construct a machine that is conscious.
If it was certain that a particular machine was conscious it would probably
need to be given rights under law and could not be used as a slave.