Presenter: Selmer Bringsjord (Director of the Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Laboratory).
Abstract: Panpsychism, let’s grant, is roughly the view that all the physical stuff in our world is conscious. This view seems to imply that a lot of things are conscious. After all, a lot of physical things exist!—people, pebbles, electrons, meteorites, politicians, umbrellas, llamas…ad indefinitum. On some versions of panpsychism, even some non-physical but existing things are conscious (e.g., you, if you’re a non-physical thing). Yet our view on and theory of consciousness casts an even wider net, for it counts Detective C. Auguste Dupin as not only conscious, but very conscious—and the great sleuth doesn’t even exist: he’s the creation of Edgar Allen Poe, and purely fictional. We explain why Dupin is indeed conscious, and why—on the \Lambda (as opposed to Tononi’s \Phi) measuring system of the degree of consciousness enjoyed by a being—he’s highly so. We also explain (with demos) that some of the artificial agents and robots in our lab are conscious as well, as are some of the fictional machines we’ve conceived, but not yet built.