The Konrad Artificial Consciousness Project: Technical Scope and Aims


Copyright Notice: This material was written and published in Wales by Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). It forms part of a multifile e-learning resource, and subject only to acknowledging Derek J. Smith's rights under international copyright law to be identified as author may be freely downloaded and printed off in single complete copies solely for the purposes of private study and/or review. Commercial exploitation rights are reserved. The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so. Copyright 2011, High Tower Consultants Limited.


First published online 09:00 GMT 15th March 2011



1 - Introduction

Konrad is a "proof of concept" artificial intelligence (AI) system. The first lines of code were written in August 2007, and the first successful test run took place in March 2008 [see Press Release (historic pdf)]. Since then, development has been carried out in stages as further areas of functionality have been added. This document provides some background to the project and identifies some hopefully useful further reading.


2 - Project Background

The Konrad software is the product of an academic collaboration between Derek J. Smith, Consultant Cognitive Scientist, and International Software Products, Toronto. It is grounded on the CA-IDMS database platform and its ultimate aim is to validate the technical hypothesis that the currency indicators maintained by CA-IDMS have functional equivalents in the biological nervous system, where "second messenger" neurotransmitter mechanisms [more on these] mark the location of items of recently activated long-term memory. Currency indicators - artificial or biological - are in this respect crucial to such cognitive functions as perception, attention, phenomenal awareness, and behavioural planning and execution; any faculty, in fact, where the mind needs to keep track of where it has got to in a prolonged processing sequence. To the extent that this hypothesis might eventually be supported it promises engineers more autonomous AI and robotic systems, and psychologists greater understanding of the natural mind.


3 - Design Principles

Konrad is an "evidence-based" design, adopting and doing its best to integrate a large number of individually well-respected psychological theories, not least the following [in alphabetical order] .....


Arkin's (1990, 2009) theory of robotic autonomy

Arnheim's (1974) theory of perception in art

Austin's (1962) and Searle's (1969) theory of speech acts

Brentano's (1874) notion of perceptual Vorstellung [= presentation] [more on this]

Craik's (1948) theory of "discontinuous" cyclical cognition [more on this]

Dennett's (1978) hierarchical model of cognition [more on this]

Edelman and Tononi's (2000) "Dynamic Core Theory" of consciousness [more on this]

Ellis and Young's (1988) "transcoding model" [more on this]

Freud's (1895) theory of physiological "cathexis" [see Freud's Project]

Heidegger's (1927) notions of Dasein and In-der-Welt-Sein [more on these]

Kernberg's (1967) theory of ego integrity versus "splitting" [more on this]

Klein's "object relations" theory of psychosexual development [more on this]

Lorenz and Tinbergen's "ethological" theory of animal behaviour [more on this]

Pylyshyn's (1978) notion of "meta-representation" and "orders of belief"

Rasmussen's (1983) hierarchical model of control error [more on this]

Wertheimer's (1923) "Gestalt Laws" of perception


4 - Potential Application Areas

Konrad is currently capable of simulating acts of cognition lasting up to 10 seconds or so, and of then justifying its final response with a microscopically detailed hard copy telling you how it did what it did and calculating what biochemical resources were consumed in doing it.


Unlike most software, moreover, Konrad is designed to be as useful when it fails as when it works. The system is designed to provide fundamental theoretical insight into the structures of the human self by recording how those structures can fail in characteristic ways. For example, by manipulating Konrad's command parameters it is possible to simulate the sort of incompletely connected, pointer-corrupt, experientially skewed, or abnormally structured semantic networks which might underlie the following .....


      error in general, and control error in particular

      speech errors and dysfluencies

      learning disorders such as dyslexia and dyscalculia

      social adjustment problems such as criminality, pathological gambling, oppositional defiance, and elective homelessness

      politico-affiliative problems such as political extremism and the sort of suicidality seen in suicide bombers

      psychiatric disorders, especially those whose symptoms include hearing voices

      post-traumatic stress disorders, to the extent that the stressor in question involves damage of some sort to the structures of the self


5 - Past Software Versions and Project Milestones



6 - Research Collaboration