|Your very own robot shopper? Dream on (Image: EPA/Corbis/SergeiI Ilinitsky)|
...the only apocalypse we might see is the one we stupidly bring about.
So long, robot pals – and robot overlords. Sentient machines may never exist, according to a variation on a leading mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness.
Over the past decade, Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues have developed a mathematical framework for consciousness that has become one of the most influential theories in the field. According to their model, the ability to integrate information is a key property of consciousness. They argue that in conscious minds, integrated information cannot be reduced into smaller components. For instance, when a human perceives a red triangle, the brain cannot register the object as a colourless triangle plus a shapeless patch of red.
But there is a catch, argues Phil Maguire at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. He points to a computational device called the XOR logic gate, which involves two inputs, A and B. The output of the gate is "0" if A and B are the same and "1" if A and B are different. In this scenario, it is impossible to predict the output based on A or B alone – you need both.
New Scientist: Sentient Robots? Not possible if you do the maths
Terminator Wiki: Sky-Net