Renowned researchers Manuel Blum and Lenore Blum have devoted their entire lives to the study of computer science with a particular focus on consciousness. They’ve authored dozens of papers and taught for decades at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. And, just recently, they published new research that could serve as a blueprint for developing and demonstrating machine consciousness.

That paper, titled “A Theoretical Computer Science Perspective on Consciousness,” may only a be a pre-print paper, but even if it crashes and burns at peer-review (it almost surely won’t) it’ll still hold an incredible distinction in the world of theoretical computer science.

The Blum’s are joined by a third collaborator, one Avrim Blum, their son. Per the Blum’s paper:

All three Blums received their PhDs at MIT and spent a cumulative 65 wonderful years on the faculty of the Computer Science Department at CMU. Currently the elder two are emeriti and the younger is Chief Academic Officer at TTI Chicago, a PhD-granting computer science research institute focusing on areas of machine learning, algorithms, AI (robotics, natural language, speech, and vision), data science and computational biology, and located on the University of Chicago campus.

This is their first joint paper.

Hats off to the Blums, there can’t be too many theoretical computer science families at the cutting-edge of machine consciousness research. I’m curious what the family pet is like.

Let’s move on to the paper shall we? It’s a fascinating and well-explained bit of hardcore research that very well could change some perspectives on machine consciousness.

Per the paper:

Our major contribution lies in the precise formal definition of a Conscious Turing Machine (CTM), also called a Conscious AI. We define the CTM in the spirit of Alan Turing’s simple yet powerful definition of a computer, the Turing Machine (TM). We are not looking for a complex model of the brain nor of cognition but for a simple model of (the admittedly complex concept of) consciousness.

In this context, a CTM would appear to be any machine that can demonstrate consciousness. The big idea here isn’t necessarily the development of a thinking robot, but more so a demonstration of the core concepts of consciousness in hopes we’ll gain a better understanding of our own.

This requires the reduction of consciousness to something that can be expressed in mathematical terms. But it’s a little more complicated than just…

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