‘Can a Robot Have a Mind?’

The featured speaker at the Oct. 13 lunch meeting of Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be Bruce MacLennan, associate professor at the University of Tennessee’s Electrical and Computer Science Department. His topic will be: “Can a Robot Have a Mind?”maclennan

Here’s an abstract from MacLennan:  “Suppose we could make a robot with the intelligence of a human. Would it be conscious?  Feel emotions?  Have free will? How could you tell?  In this talk I will explore these questions and discuss how they could be answered scientifically.  In particular, I will address the problem of machine consciousness, which is an instance of what philosophers call the Hard Problem of consciousness: the task of explaining the relation between conscious experience and the physical processes associated with it.  In addition to its relevance to artificial intelligence, this question provides a sharp test-case for our theories of the human mind, and investigating it will foster a deeper understanding of our own humanity.”

MacLennan has a Ph.D.  in computer science from Purdue. He’s been working on new approaches to robotic artificial intelligence since the mid-1980s.

The FORNL meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the UT Resource Center in Oak Ridge, 1201 Oak Ridge Turnpike. It begins around 11 a.m. with social time, followed by lunch ($8) at 11:30 and the lecture at noon.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.