Paul Matthews

Published On


Page Range

pp. 27–44


  • English

Print Length

18 pages

3. Awakenings

  • Paul Matthews (author)
Consciousness must start from somewhere, or be triggered by something. The science is contested, but gives us some paradigms and suggestions of what could be the hallmarks and drivers of sentience. We relate these to examples by Calvino showing the emergence of purpose, Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrating the influence of reflection and associative learning on independence of mind and Tchaikovsky’s superspiders as emerging social cognition. We move on to examples of the power of inner narrative and metaphor to awaken AI from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora and Catherynne Valente’s Silently and Very Fast. Finally, we find further triggers to consciousness in Stanislaw Lem’s automaton and Greg Egan’s synthetic humans.


Paul Matthews

Senior Lecturer, Information Science; Programme Leader, MSc Data Science at University of the West of England

Paul Matthews is a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of the West of England where his research interests include human-computer interaction and human-centred AI. Paul has a long term interest in the connections between science fiction, technology and human psychology.