Investigating the nature and function of consciousness in humans, animals, and AI.
The nature and function of consciousness is one of the most important outstanding problems of human science, and connects closely with ethical issues such as our treatment of animals, the welfare of patients in persistent vegetative states, and even the moral status of future artificial intelligences. The Consciousness and Intelligence project is dedicated to exploring one aspect of the puzzle of consciousness, namely its relation to different aspects of intelligence and cognition. What does consciousness do, and why did it evolve? Are there specific psychological capacities (such as episodic memory, creative insight, or emotion) that are fundamentally connected with consciousness? Is consciousness something that is likely to emerge spontaneously in artificial intelligence as it becomes more complex, and if so, how can we detect its presence? In engaging with these questions, the Consciousness and Intelligence project draws upon a range of methodologies across cognitive science, including neuroscience, evolutionary biology, philosophy of mind, and machine learning, and aims to bridge existing work across these disciplines as well as charting new theoretical landscapes.