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Can Machines Be Conscious?

January 21 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


… and Would It Matter If They Were?

A Gresham College lecture by Professor Yorick Wilks

The question “Will AI artefacts ever be conscious?” was raised by Turing seventy years ago, and will not go away even though no one quite knows what it means, nor how we would know they were conscious if they were.

This lecture explores what its role might be, and the ways in which AI scientists have explored and tried to simulate the possibility of consciousness in machines, while asking whether it would add anything useful if they had it.

Yorick Wilks is Visiting Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Gresham College. He is also Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and a Senior Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Professor Wilks is especially interested in the fields of artificial intelligence and the computer processing of language, knowledge and belief. His current research focuses on the possibility of software agents having identifiable personalities.

No reservations are required for this free lecture, which takes place at Barnard’s Inn Hall. It is run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Doors open 30 minutes before the start of the lecture.

Details of lecture on the Gresham College website

Gresham College was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, and has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years. It was the first ‘university’ in England besides Oxford and Cambridge, making it London’s oldest higher education institution still in existence today. It does not enrol any students, and awards no degrees.

The College has been recording its lectures since the 1980s and there are now over 1,900 lectures freely available online in text, audio or video formats. The provision of this free online archive of lectures aligns with its founding principles of accessible free education for all.


January 21
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Gresham College


Barnard’s Inn Hall
London, EC1N 2HH United Kingdom
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