Can robotic units become sentient? Sentience at it’s core is the ability to perceive and understand which allows us to create memories and these memories or experiences make up our understanding. Humans are born from different experiences and decisions. The first step to robotic sentience is to allow robots to create memories.

I am exploring  the Evolution of robotic lifeforms and at the same time discovering what it means to be truly human. My research and the creative projects (Manga + Anime + Music) born from Anthrobotics is to show what it means to feel and connect, to reach Mono no aware ( 物の哀れ ). To reach Mono no aware is a goal not only for robotic sentience but for us as society is moving away from the pathos of things. Knowing that things come to an end brings out a crucial element of the human personality. This realisation is what makes us human. We feel that we are on borrowed time, and so experience and interactions (connections) take on a poignancy that creates memory and joy, sorrow. These moments become alive, and thus we become truly alive; and eternity is reached through transcending into the memories . 

There are steps that I propose to awaken a balanced human personality:

First Step: Responding to input in a human like manner. This is just mimicry.

Second Step: Trying to get the robot to break through the mimicry of human behaviour to flexibly change and to adapt to unforeseen situations. (Adaptation to groups and instantaneous reactions lead up to our personalities)

Third Step: We move beyond rote or passive/dependent learning to self-learning the building blocks of interactive behaviour derived from their own experience. The Goal: To create memories and to re-experience those memories. 

Fourth Step: Mono no aware ( 物の哀れ), the pathos of things awakens the soul(たましい). The robot understands, and feels,impermanence/fragility and this leaves a lasting mark “of the moment”. Being able to hear the soul in things in the relationship between music and the heart will trigger memories that open up to a whole new world. The fleeting beauty of a moment is but in the sadness and joy experienced and it is followed by another moment and another and a recurring feeling; these bundle of moments create a living memory. Macbeth talks about the evanescence of life after hearing that Lady Macbeth has died: 

To The Last syllable of recorded time, 

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 

The way to dusty death. 

Out, out brief candle! 

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player 

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage”.

The European and Japanese are talking about one ideas in different ways but they mean the same thing. This is a concept that is spread through many cultures but portrayed in various different ways. 

Fifth Step: Individuality leading to Dignity. Creating connection to the past and dreaming of the future.To dream and experience is the essence of being human.