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Professor Igor Aleksander - "Consciousness Beyond Living Objects"

Fusing consciousness with life is erroneous. We can discover consciousness in nonliving artefacts, giving perspective on consciousness of living organisms.

Professor Igor Aleksander is currently Emeritus Professor of Neural Systems Engineering and Gabor Chair of Electrical Engineering at Imperial College London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Medal for Informatics in 2000.

Professor Aleksander is internationally known for his pioneering work looking for keys to consciousness in intelligent machines, and has been at the forefront of the Artificial Intelligence community for over four decades. In the 1980s he was responsible for the design of the world's first neural pattern recognition system, WISARD. He currently heads a major British team applying engineering principles to the understanding of the human brain, and has built several pioneering machines, culminating in the MAGNUS neurocomputational system, which he calls "a machine with imagination".

The idea of conscious machines is controversial and supporters are often accused of sensationalism, arrogance, or philosophical ignorance. Part of the problem, says Aleksander, is that consciousness remains ill-defined. Since designing thinking machines requires not just the ability to write computer programs but also an understanding of what we mean by 'consciousness,' 'mind,' and 'intelligence,' Igor also inquires into the philosophy of meaning of these terms.

Professor Aleksander has appeared extensively on TV and radio and his publications are far-reaching and seemingly boundless, having published over 200 papers and 12 books.

He has been described as "a plain-speaking and clear-sighted engineer", "extremely articulative and entertaining to work with", his lectures "an adventure and an inspiration for the human, if not yet the robotic, mind". When praised for his pioneering work he replies, "I wouldn't say pioneer, I would say maverick. I never went along with the mainstream."

He enjoys Jazz and Classical music, used to play the drums, likes cooking and not doing very much in Greek and French villages.

This lecture will be of interest to everyone, from engineers and computer scientists to science fiction and psychology buffs. It promises to satisfy the curiosity every one of us has about our own consciousness.


Emeritus Professor Igor Aleksander | talks | www


Date and Time:

7 March 2006 at 8:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Birkbeck Philosophy Society
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
07720 914 945

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£3 non members; members free of charge

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