The Making of a Conscious Robot

Introduction: The Making of a Conscious Robot

Thinker and Tinker ;)

In his paper, the Comparative Study between Cognizant and aCognizant Consciousness (or in layman's term, the Scientific Definition of Consciousness), Joey Lawsin describes the nature of consciousness based on his experiments on Biotronics and from the guiding principles behind the Caveman in the Box Trilogy. In the successive youTubes videos, through the process of comparison and elimination, the definition and scopes of consciousness are illustrated. In one of the videos, the biotronic demonstrates a basic awareness test.

The Biotronic in the videos is made up of an Arduino Uno microcontroller, ultrasonic sensor HC-05 , an LED indicator, a piezo speaker, a microservo motor SG90 , a stepper motor 28BYJ-48, one power function, and LEGO's bricks and pieces. The prototype in the first video is mechanically automated. In the second video, the prototype is algorithmically pre-programmed. And in the third video, the biotronic is personally making decisions by itself via an embedded piece of code called I.M.

Technically, Biotronics are creatures that look alive or with life. The word was coined in 1988 by Lawsin. The word "Bio" means life and "tronics" means smart electronics. These animals are collectively sometimes called the Silver Species. This new group of living organisms can see, smell, taste, hear, feel, think, breed, fly, swim, and become conscious. They die too.

The prototype was first created using the Lawsin Linkage, a double cantilever truss system with connecting elements (links) that form triangular frames. The linkage was a structural mechanism that was developed to simulate the walking cadence of biotronics animals. The construction was designed with the following requirements:

1. It must carry out a walking cadence fluidly like an actual living animal's gait.

2. It can conquer any type of terrain obstacles from carpet floors to seabeds.

3. It can move in different directions with various range of actuated motion or R.O.A.M.

4. Its structure elements must be guided by nature's mathematics like geometry.

5. It can be integrated with the arduino platform for micro-consciousness programming.

Then, the project was put together by combining the various phases and sketches of the building process:

Phase 1: The Lawsin Linkage

Phase 2: The Led Indicator

Phase 3: The MicroServo

Phase 4: The Ultrasonic Sensor

Phase 5: The Piezo Speaker

Phase 6: The Stepper Motor

Phase 7: The Biotronic Prototype

And finally, the proof of concept was delivered into actual physical reality using the Arduino microcontroller as the brain(neurotronics) and lego's gears and beams as the physical body(homotronics).

In the video above, the spider was connected to various smart sensors that were manufactured or "predesigned" to do certain functions when switched on. The spider used logic to execute the data it receives through intelligent circuitry and electronics. Although a small unit of codes, dubbed as the Information Matrix, was incorporated in its artificial brain, the spider was actually doing its own decision making as you can see in the video. The spider is in the state of awareness due to how it computes and perceives obstacles on its way by either walking forward or backward to and fro the hindrance. A simple test of awareness.

Could it be possible then that the spider is now conscious and alive? Before you judge, please read my essays on What is Life? and The Scientific Definition of Consciousness.

"Remember that not all with brains are conscious and not all that are alive have brains". ~ Joey Lawsin

Step 1: The Mechanical Automated Robot

In this second video, the spider seems alive. But it is not. Its movements are carried by a simple automation mechanically animated via the physical restriction of the design.

Step 2: The Algorithmic Programmed Robot

In this third video, the spider also looks alive. But it is not as well. Its actions are delivered by a series of instructions ingeniously coded by a programmer.

Step 3: Homotronics + Neurotronics = Biotronics

In these videos, the Arduino microcontroller was used as the "brain"(neurotronics) and the lego's gears and beams as the "body" (homotronics) of the lego walker robot.

Step 4: The Biotronics Prototype Design

The Biotronics prototype was made up of an Arduino Uno microcontroller, ultrasonic sensor HC-05 , an LED indicator, a piezo speaker, a microservo motor SG90 , a stepper motor 28BYJ-48, one power function, and LEGO's bricks and pieces.

The spider seems or could be alive since it can manipulate itself and logically interact with its environment (the two basic ingredients of Consciousness and Information Materialization) without pre-programming what the robot needs to do or not. The spider is in the state of awareness due to how it computes and perceives obstacles on its way by either walking forward or backward to and fro the hindrance. A basic test of awareness.

"The Last Human on Earth will no longer be Human." ~ Joey Lawsin

Step 5: What Is Life? What Makes Something Alive?

What does it take for something to be considered alive?

Once in my biology class, we had an experiment about differentiating living and non-living things. My teacher told us to go out to the school ground and collect 5 specimens of living and non-living things. When we went back to the lab, the class started to gather all their collections and individually classified them either living or non-living things. Leaves, butterflies, worms, dragonflies, flowers, roots, twigs, birds, bugs, fruits, dogs, squirrels were considered as living things. Soda cans, plastic bottles, stones, candy sticks, paper bags, dirt, air, water were considered as non-living things.

After the lab sheets were completed, the class was asked what makes living things different from nonliving things. And from a very interesting lengthy discussion, two kinds of classifications came up on the board. The first one was according to how science defines life; and, the second one was according to how objects are created.

By the way, I was the one who proposed the second classification. I told my teacher that air, water, and dirt should be in the list of living things since they are all created by nature, while the rest of the specimens were simply non-living things since they are made by man.

My teacher responded saying that my observations were not enough to conclude that air, water and dirt have life. She told us that an object to be considered alive or with life must have or had all the following signs or characteristics.

•Living things consume food in the form of energy.

•Living things are moving or in motion.

•Living things reproduce with an exact copy of itself.

•Living things react to its surrounding environment.

•Living things are made up of cells.

Aside from these criteria, animals and plants can talk, can walk, can see, can feel, can think, can swim and some can even fly. Objects with ALL the above characteristics are considered alive. Bioscientists name these living objects as organisms or species. I call these natural objects, including air, water, earth and fire as Biophysies. Although, water, air, soil and flame have some of the above characteristics, they are not considered alive since they do not have cellular materials. However, this last criterion is somewhat shaky in the sense that there are non-cellular micro-organisms that exist without cells but are alive. On the other hand, there are living organisms that lack one or two of these characteristics but are still considered with life.

Meanwhile, medical scholars and legal experts defined death as:

•Total failure of the heart to function.

•Total failure of the lungs to function.

•Total failure of the brain stem to function.

However, nowadays, clinically dead persons can be revived to life by replacing dead hearts with artificial ventricular mechanical pumps or dead lungs with artificial rubber membranes as long their brain stems are still intact. The functional brain stem is the key that determines if a person is dead or alive.

As we have seen, science experts and medical scholars have contradicting views about life and death. Science provides a general description of life while medicine provides specific descriptions of death. Because of these opposing views, some concrete descriptions or general standards must be established that must be universally embraced by all natural objects.

If life is characterized based on how medical experts define death, then an object is considered alive if it has a functional heart, lungs and brain. But obviously the definition is not applicable with all living things like for example plants. Trees and flowers do not have hearts, lungs or even brains; yet, they are considered alive or with life. Another example is the Moner. It is an organism without organs. This animal life form can walk without feet, eat without a mouth, digest without a stomach and reproduce to new same species without reproductive organs. Others like Octopuses, cuttlefish, nautiluses and squids have three hearts that pump blue blood, could change their skin colors faster than a chameleon, and walks with more than two or four legs. They are alive with more organs than the standard life.

On the other hand, if death is characterized based on how science experts define life, then an object is considered dead when it is no longer moving, consuming energy, reproducing, and reacting with its environment.

The latter definition seems satisfactory since each traits can be applied to both living things and natural non-living things. However, if the criteria of characterizing life is arranged based on their levels of importance and reduced through the process of elimination, then energy is the only criteria that will be left as a viable candidate.

Natural objects, either living or non-living, cannot be in motion without energy, reproduce cells without energy or react to its surroundings without consuming energy. Energy is the litmus paper that determines when a natural object is dead or alive. Non-living things like fire consumes energy from air in the form of oxygen. Non-living things like air is always in motion and when motion is present energy is consumed. Thus, if everything consumes energy, then everything is alive.

Non-living things like water, air and rocks also reproduce. There are various kinds of stones all around us. Thus rocks are reproducing too in some chemical ways. Air is a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and other gases. Air evolves from simple elements. Water when mixed with other liquids produce new families of fluids. The mere fact that all natural non-living things react with each other, reproduce and possess the basic criteria of life provide us some evidence that they are alive as well.

Moreover, there are non-living things such as robots and space probes that possess the same criteria of a complex system. These man-made objects can talk, walk, see, feel, think, eat, and even die. They even exhibit mechanical "emotions" and "consciousness". They act and interact with the environment. They consume energy, in motion, and programmed to reproduce. They have mechanical organs like the brain and heart. Hence, if these mechanical objects possess the same criteria of living things, then where do we draw now the line if something is alive or with life, if something is conscious or not?

Source: Evolution of Creation.


"Life is chemistry, not biology." ~ Joey Lawsin

Step 6: What Is Consciousness?

The Caveman in the Box Trilogy is a scientific model that showcases the origin, creation and evolution of inherent information. It is simply the study on the Genesis of Information. It is a thought experiment designed to demonstrate how the very first human on earth learned to acquire information based on the following basic scientific questions:

1. How did information emerge into the early minds of the very first humans?

2. Who supplied our primitive ancestors with information?

3. Where did it originate? Where did it come from?

4. Was the source of information a who or a what? Was it god, space aliens or something else?

The experiment was initiated using three specialized boxes where different subjects were put into test. In the first box, a newborn son of a caveman was placed just after birth. The box was a well designed state of the art fully automated experimental room where food, water, and everything that the child needs for his survival, growth and development are all technologically provided just like the sustenance naturally acquired by newborn inside the womb or by living things inside earth's biosphere. In this box, the child will never be allowed ever to see anyone or hear anything for the rest of his life. He will be totally isolated from the physical world from birth to adulthood.

Parallel to this same scenario was another box - the box of the boy's father, the first human on earth. In this box, the second subject was also placed in isolation from birth to adulthood. The only difference between this box and the first box was that the father's box was the natural world, a place surrounded by living organism like plants and animals, and non-living objects.

In the third box, the subject, which was a four legged creature, was also isolated from birth to adulthood with the same environment as his adult master. The only difference between this box and the caveman father's box was that the subject was a dog — a lower life form.

From these scenarios, more questions were raised like:

Who among the three will acquire more information?

Who will never acquire any information at all?

Will they become aware of themselves?

Will they become aware of their own surrounding?

Will they figure out that they are alive?

Will they understand the things surrounding them? How?

How many pieces of information will they acquire?

How will they know and understand them?

How did they acquire the ability of associating physical objects with mental images or vice versa?

Which minds will stay empty forever?

Which brains will give rise to consciousness and self-conscious?

They are open questions that can be rationally answered by common sense observations, systematic inferences and comparative analysis. Questions which will provide the definition of consciousness in its simplified form. Consciousness is comparative labeling, a One to One Correspondence, an Associative Recognition. In attempt to define consciousness in its simplified form, Lawsin invented the catch phrase "the Human Mental Handicap" which asserts that "No human can ever think of something without labeling or associating such something with an object, a word, a description or another thing."(Definition-1, Lawsin 1988).

Lawsin also defined consciousness in a simple equation: If x is conscious with y then x is conscious, else, if x is by itself alone, then x is not conscious. In other words, he said, if I am conscious with my dog then I am conscious. If I exist alone by myself, without my dog and anyone else surrounding me, then I will never become conscious. Thus, consciousness is made up of two basic elements: X and Y. If one of the two variables is missing, then consciousness is not present. This means to be conscious one must recognize oneself or ones surroundings, from where, the surrounding might be another person. Thus to become conscious, two things must be present: a being and a surrounding, or, a being and another being. (Definition-2, Lawsin 1988).

There are many animals that don't have brains but are conscious. Some of these animals are the:

  • Sea Star
  • Sea cucumber
  • Jellyfish
  • Sea Sponge
  • Sea Lilies
  • Sea Urchins
  • Sea Anemone
  • Sea Squirts
  • Corals

Lawsin also defined consciousness based on Matter. He said that Matter is made up of two parts: materials and by-materials. Materials are things that we see, feel, and taste. By-materials are things that we don't see like air, energy, pressure, gravity, magnetism. By-materials are by-products of the materials. Both materials and by-materials are collectively called Physicals. Non-physicals are called Abstracts. Physicals are neither created nor destroyed. It means they don't live or die. They just interact and transform from one form to another. Due to the complex interactions and transformations of the materials and by -materials, like the gears and dynamics inside a clock, Matter becomes automated, animated over time. Matter becomes alive. Lawsin named this phenomenon of being alive or automatos (acting on oneself) as The Animation Effect. (Definition-3, Lawsin 1988).

Lawsin also defined consciousness with the following Collaborative Determinants:
1. Any species with babies are conscious beings.

2. Any species who lives in houses, caves, nests, undergrounds are conscious beings.

3. Any species who sleeps are conscious or once conscious beings.

4. Any species who recognizes other objects are conscious beings.

5. Any species who defends themselves are conscious beings.

6. Any species who mates are conscious beings.

7. Any species who gradually transforms from "a seed to a tree" are conscious beings.

(Definition-4, Lawsin 1988)

"I can associate x with y, therefore, I am conscious!" ~ Joey Lawsin



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