the challenge of understanding consciousness
Perhaps the most extraordinary property of the brain is consciousness, itself. We aim to eventually replicate this emergent aspect of brain function in our computer simulations. The biggest impact of this research will be on how humanity sees itself.
Our spiritual beliefs and sense of sacred self-worth, including our ethics and legal systems, depend upon the special status seemingly accorded to us by our consciousness. So how do we respond when consciousness is explained simply as emergent neural dynamics, which can be simulated in machines? The future philosophical, ethical and legal impacts of these discoveries will be unimaginable. The first step towards simulating.
our research on consciousness
The first step towards simulating consciousness in machines must be solving the classic binding problem in visual psychology. We have recently found a solution to this problem, which is essential to enabling the primate visual brain to make sense of the visuospatial world.
Our next step will be to explore how biological neural networks that solve the binding problem may operate as a pre-processing stage before more traditional engineering networks such as supervised backpropagation of error and reinforcement learning networks.
In this case, the subsequent engineering networks would be able to exploit the explicit binding information that has developed in the biological pre-processing stage. In the longer term, our goal is to combine our vision models with other spatial processing and behavioural modules in order to build unified models of brain function, from sensory input to motor output, that display fundamental elements of consciousness, starting the rise of conscious creatures.