but some of us balk at uprooting a plant; most people who gladly swat a fly would never hurt a cat or dog. Similarly, we would feel differ- ently toward a machine without a shred of consciousness than toward an artificial being we know to have inner feelings.
And finally, there is a reason to pursue the possibility of artificial minds that carries broad scientific value: By contemplating what arti- ficial consciousness means, and from attempts—however ill-defined and halting—to build creatures with minds, we learn about our own minds. In the eighteenth century, Jacques deVaucanson hoped to build a synthetic human body so detailed that it would teach us about our own bodies. Now we have a similar possibility for our minds.
I AM, THEREFORE I THINK
In contemplating the possibility of an artificial being with an artificial mind, we must recognize that the mind is contained in a real, physical body. Many ideas and debates about machine thinking assume that it arises as a disembodied intelligence within a computer.Artificial crea- tures, however, are different.They need to think, yes, but that ability must be coupled to interaction with the world: sensing it in various tangible forms rather than symbolically, assessing that flow of data, and deciding how to respond with physical action. The decision can be direct and immediate, though not necessarily simple, as in a robot choosing where to put its feet so as to walk in a given direction. At higher levels,the sensory input,processing,and decision making might reach the sophistication of navigating through a complex environ- ment, or conversing with a person in a human way—that is, passing the Turing test, not as a presence hidden behind a screen, but by actually being there, to listen and speak.
In short, artificial beings are embodied intelligences. To some re- searchers, that mind–body association is the key to making fully suc- cessful creatures.The difference between this approach and approaches based on disembodied intelligence remains controversial. It is why Rodney Brooks’s construction of Genghis, his legged robot that learned to walk by using a distributed, reactive intelligence rather