An autonomous agent senses and acts upon its environment in the service of its own agenda. An autonomous agent with human-like cognitive capabilities is called a cognitive agent. By a "conscious" software agent, we mean one designed within the constraints of Bernard Baars' Global Workspace Theory of consciousness and cognition. The CCRG’s research revolves around the design and implementation of cognitive, sometimes "conscious," software agents, their computational applications, and their use in cognitive modeling.
Like the Roman god Janus, cognitive computing projects can have two faces, their science face and their engineering face. The science face fleshes out the global workspace theory of consciousness into a full cognitive model of how minds work. (Please see the tutorial.) The engineering face of cognitive computing explores architectural designs for software information agents and cognitive robots that promise more flexible, more human-like intelligence within their domains. This fleshed out global workspace theory is yielding hopefully testable hypotheses about human cognition. The architectures and mechanisms that underlie intelligence and consciousness in humans can be expected to yield information agents, and cognitive robots that learn continualy, adapt readily to dynamic environments, and behave flexibly and intelligently when faced with novel and unexpected situations. Applications, both in progress and planned, are to various fields, including cognitive robotics and querying image databases with images rather than text.