Researchers at three universities in South Korea have developed an artificial system capable of simulating a conscious response to external stimuli. It consists of a photodiode – which converts light into an electrical signal, a transistor acting as a mechanical synapse, an artificial neuron circuit, which acts as the system’s brain, and a robotic hand.
Humans, when confronted by external stimuli such as heat or light, can react rapidly and automatically – think about how your hand withdraws from a hot surface, or how your leg flicks up when tapped on the knee. These are unconscious responses. But conscious responses, such as catching a ball, must be honed by repeated stimulation.