Tuesday April 3, 2018

9:00 am - 12:30 pm


AI Robotics

Can Machines Be Conscious?


9:00    am  to 11:00 am           Demo/Interaction with robots from Paul Verschure and Hanson Robotics, including ‘Sophia’

11:00 am  to 12:30 pm           Panel Debate ‘Can Machines be Conscious?’


Paul Verschure, SPECS lab, Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona, Catalan Institute of Advanced Research (ICREA),IBEC/Barcelona

Joscha Bach, MIT Media Lab, Harvard Evolutionary Dynamics

Stephen Deiss, Engineering, UCSD

Paul Werbos, NSF

James Tagg, Penrose Institute

Anil Seth,  Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, University of Sussex, UK




Paul F.M.J. Verschure,

Director SPECS lab

Synthetic Perspective, Emotive and Cognitive Systems group

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona

Research professor  Catalan Institute of Advanced Research (ICREA),
Professor of Cognitive science and Neurorobotics at the Technology Department, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Director of the Center of Autonomous Systems and Neurorobotics (NRAS)
Scientific Director of the Master in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media (CSIM)


Paul Verschure is a research professor with the Catalan Institute of Advanced Studies and Director of the Neuroengineering program at the Catalan Institute for Bioengineering. Paul trained in Psychology and his scientific aim is to find a unified theory of mind and brain using synthetic methods and to apply it to quality of life enhancing technologies. He has advanced a theory of mind and brain, Distributed Adaptive Control, which has led to a novel neurorehabilitation approach called the Rehabilitation Gaming System ( He also explores new methods for the exploration of complex data ( that is being tested on data from the human brain. Complementary to his science, Paul has developed and deployed over 25 art installations ( from interactive spaces to BCI orchestras, robot Theremin soloists and virtual/augmented reality installations and tools for the holocaust memorial sites ( Paul received both his Ma. and PhD in psychology. His scientific goal is to find a unified theory of mind, brain and body through the use of synthetic methods and to apply such a theory to the development of novel cognitive technologies. Paul has pursued his research at different institutes in the US (Neurosciences Institute and The Salk Institute, both in San Diego) and Europe (University of Amsterdam, University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-ETH and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona). Paul works on biologically constrained models of perception, learning, behavior and problem solving that are applied to wheeled and flying robots, interactive spaces and avatars. The results of these projects have been published in leading scientific journals including Nature, Science, PLoS and PNAS. In addition to his basic research, he applies concepts and methods from the study of natural perception, cognition and behavior to the development of interactive creative installations and intelligent immersive spaces. Since 1998, he has, together with his collaborators, generated a series 25 public exhibits of which the most ambitious was the exhibit "Ada: Intelligent space" for the Swiss national exhibition Expo.02, that was visited by 560000 people. The most recent one was the Multimodal Brain Orchestra that premiered in the closing ceremony of the EC Future and Emerging Technologies conference in Prague in April 2009.  Paul leads SPECS, a multidisciplinary group of over 30 pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral researchers that include physicists, psychologists, biologists, engineers and computer scientists supported by his own technical and administrative staff.