On Consciousness 2

Posted by joshp Tue, 25 Jul 2006 16:27:38 GMT

Talk today turned to the rather astonishing fact that humans (or animated meat, as we were referring to them) seem to have consciousness. How is that possible, and if possible (and we all agreed it does seem possible), why couldn’t other meat (or, because we are all computer dorks, machines) be animated with consciousness.

The first clue that nobody really knows anything about this topic is that there isn’t even a settled spelling of the subject. We have the “conscious” mind and we have our “conscience” and both refer to the same thing, right? Or do they? In practice, the former is used to describe our self aware mental state, the latter, the virtual organ we credit with moral judgement. But these are the same right? Etymologically, we are looking at words with the same roots, and interestingly, they talk about common knowledge - con scientia - that is “knowing with”.

Explaining how consciousness could exist seems simple until you try. Is consciousness a fundamental aspect of reality - some basic element of life - or does the existence of consciousness depend on other non-conscious elements be they physical, biological, computational, or neural. If you go with the latter - where does the spark come from that turns the ingredients “on” and why couldn’t we reproduce that process to animate some other collection of parts. If you go with the former, prepare to get called a hippy by your co-workers.

Anyway, Todd helped Bob break his losing streak yesterday, and paid for our Thai food. Bob managed to break our blogging streak by going passive aggressive and refusing to pick anyone to write the last blog post - let’s hope we don’t have any more of that. Such emotional robots!


Leave a response

  1. Pashmina Thu, 27 Jul 2006 05:48:15 GMT

    Nice! Consciousness is one of my fav subjects. Some heavy questioning lead me to <a href=”http://www.imprint.co.uk/Wilber.htm” rel=”nofollow”>An Integral Theory of Consciousness</a>

    And a lot of other books. One that I am finding especially fascinating, since it ties consciousness to communication and computers, is <a href=”http://www.allconsuming.net/item/view/2842” rel=”nofollow”>The User Illusuion</a>

  2. [email protected] Tue, 01 Aug 2006 04:06:51 GMT

    This may sound too simple, but truth is simple. In Genesis 2:7 of bible, it says: the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. You can’t UNDERSTAND God until you stand under God. Then you won’t blogging your mind with that topic anymore.