Published: 10:29 EST, 14 May 2014 | Updated: 11:13 EST, 14 May 2014
A mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness, says emotional machines such as Marvin the Paranoid Androidfrom Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (pictured) will never exist
The prospect of robot overlords, friends and lovers has been the topic of science fiction novels for years.
But according to one mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness, emotional machines will never exist.
This is because computers can't handle any process that completely integrates information, so they cannot be conscious and capable of feeling, one expert claims.
A mathematical framework for consciousness, developed over the last decade by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that the ability to integrate information is a key feature of consciousness.
He believes that integrated information can't be broken down into smaller components in conscious minds, because the brain contextualises information.
For example, when we see a red triangle our brains don't register the shape as a colourless triangle plus a shapeless coloured area, New Scientist reported. Instead we see it as a whole - a red triangle, we understand the 'wider picture'.
Phil Maguire of the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, said that a computational device called the XOR logic gate relies on predicting outcomes using a combination of two inputs, which require a loss of information.
‘You have to put in two bits and you get one out. If the brain integrated information in this fashion, it would have to be continuously haemorrhaging information.’
His team has defined integration In terms of how tricky it is to modify information.
It is easy enough for machines to edit a collection of individual images, but memories are composed of a bank of intertwined images and experiences and cannot be altered in the same way.
Unrequited love: Consciousness cannot be created in physical machines in finite time using limited memory as this is beyond scientists' abilities. The study suggests that humans will not find friendship with a robot (pictured left and right) but are unlikely to be made their slaves either
A mathematical framework for consciousness developed over the last decade by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says that the ability to integrate information is a main feature of consciousness.
He believes that integrated information cannot be broken down into smaller components in conscious minds, because the brain contextualises information.
For example, when we see a red triangle our brains so not register the shape as a colourless triangle plus a shapeless coloured area.
Consciousness cannot be created in a physical machines in finite time using limited memory, according to another expert who thinks robots will never be able to feel emotions like humans.
The researchers have used mathematics to show that computers cannot handle the complex processes needed to mesh pieces of information together seamlessly.
Therefore, if consciousness is based on the integration of lots of pieces of information, computers can’t be conscious and capable of experiencing emotions like humans.
Professor Maguire says that consciousness cannot be created in a physical machine in finite time using limited memory.
‘It doesn't necessarily mean that there is some magic going on in the brain that involves some forces that can't be explained physically. It is just so complex that it's beyond our abilities to reverse it and decompose it,’ he said.
His research may mean that lonely humans will not find love with a robot, they are unlikely to be made their slaves either.