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The Artificial Brain


We have always been interested in the notion of consciousness fact, which is, for us, the
fact that an individual endowed with a brain can think of something related to his position
in the world right here right now. It is not about the continuity, or the performance, nor
the profoundness of the thought, but it is about thinking of something in a knowable
manner and which can be specified from a linguistic or mathematical angle, without it
being an automatic and predefined response to a given situation.
By analogy to the notion lengthily investigated by philosophers, psychologists,
neurobiologists, we will pose the question of artificial consciousness: how can one
transpose the fact of “thinking of something” into the computable field, so that an
artificial system, founded on computer processes, would be able to generate
consciousness facts, in a viewable manner. The system will have intentions, emotions and
ideas about things and events related to it-self. The system would have to have a body
that it could direct and which would constrain the system. It would also have to have a
history, and intentions to act and, most of all, to think. It would have to have knowledge,
notably language knowledge. It would have to have emotions, intentions and finally a
certain consciousness about itself.
We can name this system, by sheer semantic analogy, an artificial brain. However we
will see that its architecture is quite different from living brains. The concern is
transposing the effects, the movements; certainly not reproducing the components like
neurons and glial cells. We should keep in mind principally one characteristic of the
process of thinking unfolding in a brain: there is a complex neural, biochemical, electrical
activation movement happening. This movement is coupled to a similar but of a different
mode in the nervous system deployed in the whole body. This complex movement
generates, by selective emergence and by reaching a particular configuration, what we
call a thought about something. This thought rapidly leads to actuators or language
activity and descends then in the following thought which can be similar or different.
This is the very complex phenomenon that has to be transposed into the computable
Hence, we should approach the sudden appearance of thoughts in brains at the level of
the complex dynamics of a system building and reconfiguring recurrent and temporized
flow. We can transpose this into computer processes architectures containing symbolic
meaning and we should make it geometrically self-controlled. Two reasonable
hypotheses are made for this transposition:
• analogy between the geometrical dynamics of the real brain and of the artificial brain.
For one, flows are complex images, almost continuous; for the other, these are dynamical
graphs which deformations are evaluated topologically.
• combinatory complexity reduction of the real brain in the computable domain by using
symbolic and pre-language level for this approach. The basic elements are completely
different; they are not of the same scale.
However, once these hypotheses made, one should not start to develop an architecture
that will operate its own control from the aspects of its changing geometry. One needs to
ask the proper question about consciousness fact generation. A philosopher, a couple of
decades ago, M. Heidegger, asked the proper question: what brings us to think about this
thing right here right now? The answer, quite elaborate, to this question will conduct to a
system architecture choice that will take us away from reactive or deductive systems. The
system will generate intentionally its consciousness facts, intention as P. Ricoeur
understood it. There are no consciousness facts without intention to think. This settles the
question, considered as a formidable, of freedom to think. One thinks of everything
according to his memory and his intuition on the moment, but only if it is expressible as a
thought by the system producing thoughts. Some might see something infinite in this
process; however it is not our case. A finite set of component which movements occur in
a finite space has only a finite number of states in which it can be. Also, as the
permanence of the physical real apprehensible by the sense is very strong, the
preoccupation to think by man is quite limited, in his civilizations. Let us point out that
artificial systems that will think artificially will be able to communicate directly at the
level of forms of the ideas, without using a language mediator, and hence, would be co-
active as well as being numerous in space.
For different reasons, numerous people think that the path of artificial consciousness’
investigation should not be taken at all. I feel differently, because, discoveries have been
the very root of our existence, from fire to the mighty F-16s. The mind is a work of art
moulded in mystery, and any effort to unlock its doors should be encouraged because, I
am sure, that its discovery is only going to help us respect the great architect more.