Allen and Roskies to Santa Barbara

Colin Allen, recently Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh,and Adina Roskies, currently Helman Family Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Dartmouth College, have both accepted senior offers from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Professor Allen is known for his research in philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of biology. He is the author, with Wendell Wallach, of Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. (OUP 2009), among many other works, which you can learn about here. He also helped develop the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and created InPhO, the Internet Philosophy Ontology project.

He started at Santa Barbara on July 1st.

Professor Roskies is known for her work in philosophy of science, cognitive science, and philosophy of mind, as well as on topics such as free will, moral responsibility, agency, and neuroethics. She was also one of several co-principal investigators on the $7 million grant project, “Consciousness and Free Will: A Joint Neuroscientific-Philosophical Investigation.” You can learn more about her writings here and here.

She takes up her new position at Santa Barbara in January, 2024.


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Patrick Lin
11 months ago

Nice! Welcome to California, Colin and Adina, and I hope to see you at some point since Cal Poly SLO isn’t far away from UCSB. 🙂

Colin Allen
Reply to  Patrick Lin
11 months ago

Thanks Pat. Definitely in the cards to visit SLO

Grant Castillou
Grant Castillou
11 months ago

It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at
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Patrick Lin
Reply to  Grant Castillou
11 months ago

Serious question: Are you getting a commission every time you post this?

Jill Hernandez
11 months ago

This Aggie is still cheering you on, Colin! Congrats to UCSB!

Colin Allen
Reply to  Jill Hernandez
11 months ago

Thanks Jill!