European Research Council Adanced Grant (ERC)
The role of consciousness in adaptive behavior: A combined empirical, computational and robot based approach.
CDAC considers consciousness as a solution to an evolutionary problem rather than a side-effect of evolution or an epiphenomenon. With respect to the question of the function of consciousness, two features stand out and seem paradoxical. On one hand consciousness is defined as the construction of one coherent scene. On the other hand, experimental evidence shows that this conscious scene is experienced with a significant delay relative to the real-time action of the agent and not necessarily the cause of actions and thoughts.
The resulting paradox is that evolution in optimizing fitness appears to have rendered solutions to the challenge of survival that appear epiphenomenal. (see also Paul’s at TEDX talk “Consciousness and the Machine”
The CDAC project addresses the question of the function of consciousness by using a combined theoretical and experimental approach including empirical and computational neuroscience and robotics to show the functional role of consciousness in adaptive behaviour, to identify its underlying neuronal principles and to construct a neuromorphic robot based real-time conscious architecture.