Will Future Robots Fall in Love?

Stefan Nygaard Hansen, Christoffer Lawætz Hansen & Mads Algreen Torp

Student thesis: Bachelor project


Will future robots fall in love? This paper tries to answer the question by coming to an understanding of a range of different notions of human consciousness. We argue that love and consciousness are closely connected. Therefore, we use the question of whether they will fall in love to open the philosophical discussion of consciousness. We present three different possible future robots: A robot without human consciousness, a robot with human consciousness, and a robot with a new form of consciousness unintelligible to human comprehension. We present the three scenarios in each their fictional story. The stories are followed by an analysis of relevant theories in the field arguing both for and against the possibility of conscious robots. The no-argument is based on David Chalmers’ theory of the hard problem. Chalmers argues that consciousness is a non-physical phenomenon which cannot be solved on par with other scientific cases. For the no-argument John Searle is also presented with his Chinese Room-argument, which shows how we cannot expect robots to have actual consciousness if we only think of the brain as an advanced computer program that we try to recreate. The yes-argument is articulated by analysing the arguments of Daniel Dennett’s materialistic naturalism, John Searle’s biological naturalism, and David Chalmers’ panpsychism. Two of Thomas Nagel’s arguments constitute the theory of the last robot. In his article ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’ Nagel argues that an agent’s consciousness is inseparable from its functional system. Therefore, a robot with a different functional system than humans, will perceive and understand the world completely different from humans. We discuss whether consciousness, and thereby love, can be reduced to physical processes, or if consciousness is an intrinsic part of human physico-mental existence. We also consider if love is something more than consciousness. This lead us to ponder if science will ever be able to explain consciousness by physical and causal metrics, because this method leaves the feeling or quality of consciousness unexplained. We propose that fiction or art is a way to understand the hard problem of consciousness that we indeed acknowledge and believe exists. We conclude that future robots will most likely be conscious. If so, they will have a consciousness and a feeling of being in the world that humans will find difficult to truly understand. For do you know what it is like to be a bat, or anything else than a human for that matter?

EducationsPhilosophy and Science Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Bachelor
Publication date29 May 2017
Number of pages51
SupervisorsPatrick Rowan Blackburn