The Role of Consciousness in the Robot Rebellion

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・APA ・5 Sources

Consciousness is described as the state of being awake and conscious of what is going on in your immediate surroundings, as well as having a sense of self (Penfield, 2015). The topic of consciousness is extensively explored in the book 'The Robots Rebellion,' in which the author attempts to equate artificial intelligence to human consciousness. Consciousness seems to be an important factor in human decision-making. Consciousness entails the use of human senses, which cause psychological and emotional reactions, affecting a person's decision-making. This spontaneously occurring occurrence has a profound impact on human thought and personality formation. Consciousness enables human beings to reason and differentiates right from wrong. Practice and expertise do not interfere with the awareness of a person but enhances the automation of the undertaking of tasks and procedures. This paper focuses on the issue of consciousness as presented in the novel "The Robots Rebellion." Notably, consciousness is an element that plays a critical role in human beings as it triggers reasoning and enables automation.
As learned in the lectures, consciousness can be divided into three broad classes. These include the consciousness of being awake, the consciousness of something (an example of this would be the awareness of a traffic light turning green) and finally, the consciousness of self, which is to be aware of one's thoughts and actions. In the novel “The Robot’s Rebellion” by Keith Stanovich, he constantly expresses how humans have the capability of thinking consciously without practice, compared to that of artificial intelligence (robot), which can be adapted just by practice (Penfield, 2015). From the novel, it emerges that consciousness is the only element that makes humans superior to the artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The fact that humans are conscious which enables them to reason appropriately makes them able to accomplish more than the AI systems.
Within the novel, Stanovich speaks about automatization which falls into the category of consciousness. Automization according to the class lecture on Consciousness is something we are able to become better at doing; something that becomes easier and faster for us to do. This happens when we get used to doing a specific activity repetitively that our minds become less conscious of it. If we to become aware of the activity we are performing; we could actually mess it up more than we can do well with it. An easy example of automatization would be how to ride a bike. Once we get the hang of balancing and having to pedal and steer, we start to forget to tell ourselves what to do in order to ride the bike (Rabinowitz, 2005). The more we ride the bike and not have to tell our bodies to move in a certain way, the more we get better at it and don’t need to remind our conscious mind to do so. This argument ties in with Fodor’s emphasis on innately specified modules. In the article by Fodor, he concludes that processes are associated with a number of important properties such as Sub-served by specific neural architecture. The other element that interferes with automation is subject to idiosyncratic pathological breakdown and finally and ontogenetically determination (Penfield, 2015). However, he had observed that the properties enlisted had only specific processes that could become a part of TASS (The Autonomous Set of Systems) just through practice and experience. Therefore procedures such as artificial intelligence are able to become automatized thoughts just by practice and experience.
In “The Robots Rebellion”, the scientists proposed an impression that people do not have a stable or well-ordered preference. What they mean by that is that a person has to have a well-defined preference when making important choices (Stanovich, 2005). An example of this would be when a person has to choose what house to buy; their minds can be changed by an irrelevant issue such as the color of the house or the thought that it may look the same as a house down the road. But ultimately, it all depends on how these alternatives are presented and how the individual responds to it. Say it all depends on the person's intuition, each person has their own conscious mind, but the levels on how each individual thinks fluctuates (Gunkel, 2012). In a lecture on Consciousness, intuition was described as how we decide or believe in something, without having an opinion on how that idea came up. For instance, when a person is thinking of purchasing a house and then a random thought of not buying the house comes, because of the color. This can be described as an irrelevant opinion that had not been thought of before being presented as an alternative. This type of consciousness can be caused by automatization and ties in with the possibilities of us being aware that we are thinking in a certain way which can be changed just by practice and experience.
In chapter two of “The Robots Rebellion”, there is an article on Dennett that talks about how individuals have programmed TASS (The Autonomous Set of Systems) into adapting into our present environment by signalling the artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically tell a male to mate with a woman in sight. The artificial intelligence records the fact that this specific man who is in his adulthood judges that he needs a mate in order to obtain a spouse, then later on children (Stanovich, 2005). This AI is able to accomplish that by adapting to the needs of men of his age and then later on computing that to find out what his needs will be in the future. These are thoughts that us humans, already think of and learn to think of as we grow older. As explained in the novel, artificial intelligence applications are able to adapt to learn new learn things, just by practice and experience (McIntosh, 2015). Therefore, within the book, Stavonich reveals that although humans have a conscious way of thinking that does not mean that artificial intelligence is unable to do the same. Despite the fact that they do not have that sense of self at first and that thinking consciously does not come naturally to them, they are still able to adapt and think just like us with practice.
In conclusion, the principles presented in the novel portray the consciousness of human beings as a distinct ability that cannot be attained through artificial intelligence or practice. Notably, consciousness can never be automated as it is triggered by a sector of our brains that does not rely on experience but personal opinions and perceptions. The classification of consciousness which is discussed in the novel explains how there is the part of consciousness that is affected by practice and automation. It also highlights that there is the part consciousness that remains unaffected by experience.


Gunkel, D. J. (2012). The machine question: critical perspectives on AI, robots, and ethics. MIT Press.
McIntosh, S. (2015). Integral consciousness and the future of evolution. Paragon House.
Penfield, W. (2015). Mystery of the mind: A critical study of consciousness and the human brain. Princeton University Press.
Rabinowitz, F. M. (2005). Review of The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin.
Stanovich, K. E. (2005). The robot's rebellion: Finding meaning in the age of Darwin. University of Chicago Press.

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