Detecting Unusual Consciousness: From Brain Organoids to AI Systems

Are some brain organoids, or sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) systems (e.g., ChatGPT 4) conscious? In some cases, it may seem so. But how can we tell?  The conference will focus on unusual candidates for consciousness such as isolated hemispheres after split brain or hemispherotomy surgery, and advanced AI systems (e.g., ChatGPT). The main aim of the conference is to explore cases and investigate what kind of (traditional or innovative) demarcation criteria could be used to detect whether an entity or its local states are conscious.


Tim Bayne (Monash)

Jonathan Birch (LSE)

Marcello Massimini (Milan)

Elizabeth Schechter (Maryland)


Charlotte Gauvry (Bonn, Philosophy)

Uwe Peters (Bonn/Cambridge, Philosophy)

Theodor Rüber (Bonn, Department of Epileptology, University Hospital Bonn)

ID: 671 1475 9797
Password: 815983


Registration is free. If you want to attend the Conference in person, please contact: Charlotte Gauvry

© public domain

When: 27th-28th September 2023

Where: 27th September: International Center for Philosophy NRW (IZPH) and 28th September: Life & Brain Building, Department of Epileptology/ University Hospital. Penin Seminar Room




IZPH philosophy building: Poppelsdorfer Allee 28,
Conference room: last floor

9:30. Opening
9:45-10:45. Uwe Peters, Bonn/Cambridge "Do current evidential standards in the science of consciousness help or hinder the discovery of signs of consciousness?"
10:45-11:45. Wanja Wiese, Mainz "Understanding weak and strong artificial consciousness"
11:45-12:00. Coffee
12:00-13:00. Tim Bayne, Monash TBA (online)


14:00-15:00. Sidney Carls-Diamante, Konstanz "Is there something it is like to be an octopus arm?"
15:00-16:00. Sarah Diner, Bonn "Preautionary discourse on brain organoids: in search of surrogate markers for consciousness"
16:00-16:15. Coffee
16:15-17:15. Jonathan Birch, LSE "When is a brain organoid a sentience candidate?"

.Life & Brain Building (University Hospital): Venusberg-Campus 1
Seminar room Penin

9:30-10:30. Maxence Gaillard, Oslo/ UCLouvain "Consciousness assessment in brain organoids by global and local theories of consciousness"
10:30-11:30. Charlotte Gauvry/ Theodor Rüber​, Bonn "Intact functional brain networks provide evidence for consciousness in the isolated hemisphere in people with hemispherotomy"
11:30-11:45. Coffee
11:45-12:45.  Nurida Boddenberg, Bonn "Signatures of Consciousness: Analyzing Experimental Traces in the Isolated Hemisphere Post-Hemispherotomy to Unravel the Phenomenon"


14:00-15:00. Marcello Massimi, Milan "Electrophysiological strategies to infer consciousness in isolated brains" (online)
15:00-15:15. Coffee
15:15-16:15. Elizabeth Schechter, Maryland "Hemispherectomy and Candidate Conscious Beings After Split-brain Surgery"

​The projects is funded by the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) “Individuals, Institutions and Societies” (University of Bonn) as part of the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state government.

Borderline Consciousness

The 'Towards New Demarcation Criteria for Borderline Consciousness' Project is an interdisciplinary project involving a collaboration between philosophers of Bonn and Cambridge and neuroscientists from the epilepsy clinic in Bonn. Its main purpose is to create an international research forum to develop new criteria for determining whether and when non-human entities, such as non-linguistic animals, new brain organisms, or advanced AI systems can be considered conscious.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© TRA Project

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