Science & Tech

Robot prototype with 'human consciousness' in the making: 'This is bigger than curing cancer'

If You're Down He'll Pick You Up! Dr. Robot

Scientists have lifted the lid on a new project that involves a robot with "human consciousness".

Researchers at Columbia University announced that a prototype is in the making, which could be a scientific breakthrough "bigger than curing cancer".

Mechanical engineer Hod Lipson told the New York Times that his team would finally have an in-depth look at what revolutionised artificial intelligence would look like.

Lipson said the mention of the C-word (consciousness) was mostly "forbidden" from being talked about in science as it's still a taboo topic. However, he highlighted that for humans to rely on robots, they must be more resilient.

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"This is not just another research question that we’re working on — this is the question," he told the publication.

"This is bigger than curing cancer."

He continued: "If we can create a machine that will have consciousness on par with a human, this will eclipse everything else we’ve done. That machine itself can cure cancer."

While some fellow scientists have outlined concerns, Muhammad Wajahat Sultan said the quality of life would improve when such machines exist.

In his piece titled ‘Robots and Future’, he wrote: "With customised robots in the workplace, new jobs will be created, and existing jobs will be improved. In addition, people will have more time to focus on what they find interesting, meaningful, and exciting."

Scientists' most significant challenge is understanding the realms of consciousness, which Lipson describing it as relating to "imagining yourself in the future".

A self-aware robot would differ from past prototypes by trying to change according to evolution.

Lipson said he wanted to push "as far as he can."

"I want a robot to think about its body, to think about its plans," he added.

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