BICA 2014

2014 Annual International Conference on
Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures

Fifth Annual Meeting of the BICA Society

November 7-9 (Friday-Sunday): Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States



Toward Self-Conscious Robotics

Riccardo Manzotti, Peter Boltuc, Antonio Chella

Objective. Robot consciousness is an emerging field that addresses the problems of designing and implementing computational models of consciousness in a robot. The target of robot consciousness research is twofold: the possibility of building conscious robots (i.e., facing the hard problem of consciousness) and the analysis of the active role of consciousness in controlling and planning the behavior of a robot. Robot consciousness is placed at the crossing between technical disciplines (AI, robotics, computer science and engineering), theoretical disciplines (philosophy of mind, linguistics, logic), and empirical disciplines (psychology and neuroscience). It focuses on attempts to apply the methods of AI, robotics and computer science to understand consciousness and to examine the possible role of consciousness in Robotics. On the one hand there is the hope that facing the problem of consciousness would be a decisive move to design really autonomous robots, on the other hand the implementations of robotic models of consciousness could be helpful for understanding natural consciousness.

Program. Please find here the complete program.

Invited speakers
We are pleased and excited of having the honour of hosting as invited speaker the following scholars:

  • Jun Tani
  • Max Tegmark

Background. In the last few years, the once “incongruous” idea of machine consciousness gained increasing momentum. This upsurge of interest in a such a technological possibility has been encouraged by the parallel increase in consciousness-related research in the field of neuroscience. Are these studies of any relevance in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence, and computer vision? Artificial consciousness, sometimes labeled as machine consciousness, is the attempt to model and implement those aspects of human cognition that are identified with the often elusive and controversial phenomenon of consciousness. In brief, the tutorial will outline the complete theoretical framework in which current consciousness related scientific research is carried on. The tutorial will also list the most promising models (Global Work Space, Tononi’s information integration, Damasio's core consciousness model, Embodied Cognition, Externalist approaches to conscious experience) contrasting advantages and shortcomings.

Consciousness and BICA. There is little doubt that - whatever consciousness is - has a decisive selective advantage. Consciousness is related with intentions, cognitive integration, behavioral flexibility, and andling the unexpected. Furthremore, consciousess appears to be related with the control of development and learning. It is thus obvious that the analysis of biological intelligent systems, such as animals and humans, cannot be separated from that of the cognitive, neural, and phisical underpinnings of a conscious architecture. 

Questions to be discussed include: What advantage does consciousness provide to biological agents? Why does the brain produce a conscious representation of cognitive processing? What are the physical underpinnings of phenomenal experience? Couldn’t be the case that conscious experience is the hallmark of a certain style of information processing? Will conscious machines be able to outperform as to autonomy, semantic understanding, dealing with unexpected events, showing personal identity, achieving satisfactory human-machine communication?


The symposium will take place the 7th of November 2014.

Schedule coming soon.

For details on the submission process, formats, etc., please refer to the BICA 2014 Call for Papers and the BICA 2014 submission guidelines.

International Journal of Machine Consciousness

A dedicated journal:

APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers

APA Newsletter on
Philosophy and Computers

A cartoon on
machine consciousness

Riccardo Manzotti

Riccardo Manzotti. (PhD in Robotics, Professor of Psychology at IULM University, Milan) and currently Fulbright Visiting Scholar at MIT, has been working for the best part of the last ten years on the topic of machine consciousness. He is coeditor of the “International Journal on Machine Consciousness”, He has written several papers on artificial consciousness as well as on consciousness and has co-organized or be an active presenter in several international workshop on machine consciousness and related topics (International Workshop on Artificial Consciousness 2005, Nokia Workshop on Machine Consciousness 2008, BICS 2010. Brain-Inspired Cognitive Systems Conference, BICA. Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 2009, Machine Consciousness 2011: Self, Integration and Explanation, BICA 2012).
Riccardo Manzotti's website:

Peter Boltuc

Peter Boltuc is endowed Schewe Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at University of Illinois, Springfield, Editor of the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, Co-Editor of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Poznan University and of Online Learning at the Warsaw School of Economics You may peruse his work at Peter Boltuc's Website

Antonio Chella

Antonio Chella as of 2001 is full professor in Robotics at the University of Palermo. He is the head of the Robotics Laboratory of DICGIM-University of Palermo and a former Director of the Department of Computer Engineering at the University of Palermo. He published more than 200 papers on machine consciousness, cognitive systems, robotics and neural networks. He is a referee of international scientific journals and he has been a member of the program committee of several international conferences. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness and an associate editor of Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures (BICA) journal. He is a co-founder and current member of the board of the BICA Society. He edited, together with Riccardo Manzotti, the book "Artificial Consciousness", by Imprint Academic, UK, which is a main reference in the field. Detailed information on the scientific activity, including links to publications, can be found at Antonio Chella’s website: