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Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture: Animal Minds and Robot Minds

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture: Animal Minds and Robot Minds

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Prof. Murray Shanahan (Imperial College, London), Professor of Cognitive Robotics


Do non-human animals think like us? Are they conscious the way we are? Can robots think like we do? Could we ever build a conscious robot? These philosophical questions are important because they influence what we decide to do. To the extent that an animal can experience suffering, we have a duty to treat it well. If we can build a robot that is conscious, would it also be able to experience suffering? And if so, should we build such a thing in the first place?

About the speaker

Murray’s primary interests are in cognitive architecture, both as it is found in Nature and as it might be realised artificially. Because he is committed to the view that cognition and embodiment are intimately related, he also has a strong interest in robotics. On this account, Robots are seen as a vehicle for testing theories of cognition. The claim is that if we have a good theory of cognition – one that passes the test of implementability on a robot – then it will help us build better, more intelligent robots. Murray also has an interest in consciousness, and sees consciousness and cognition as closely related. He is of the belief that to understand these themes properly entails a certain degree of engagement with philosophy, particularly philosophy of mind.

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If you would like a copy of the lecture text, please email Dr Yasemin J.

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Conferences and events team
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