When science-fiction worlds introduce robots that look and behave like people, sooner or later those worlds’ inhabitants confront the question of robot self-awareness. If a machine is built to truly mimic a human, its “brain” must be complex enough not only to process information as ours does, but also to achieve certain types of abstract thinking that make us human. This includes recognition of our “selves” and our place in the world, a state known as consciousness.
One example of a sci-fi struggle to define AI consciousness is AMC’s “Humans” (Tues. 10/9c starting June 5). At this point in the series, human-like machines called Synths have become self-aware; as they band together in communities to live independent lives and define who they are, they must also battle for acceptance and survival against the hostile humans who created and used them.