Category Archives: Mind and AI

Did smell lead to consciousness?

Smell has apparently always been a peculiar sense.  The sensory pathway of smell information to the brain runs completely independent from the other senses.  The pathways for the other senses run through the midbrain and thalamus and are then relayed … Continue reading

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Is the brainstem conscious?

(Warning: neuroscience weeds and references to gruesome animal research.) The vast majority of neuroscientists see consciousness as a cortical phenomenon.  It may be crucially dependent on sub-cortical and sub-cerebral structures, but subjective experience itself exists mainly or entirely in the … Continue reading

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Consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder

There are few things that everyone who ponders consciousness can agree on.  It’s a topic where debates on the very definition of the subject are common.  The only definitions that seem to command near universal assent are the ones oriented … Continue reading

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A qualified recommendation: Consciousness Demystified

A couple of years ago I did a series of posts inspired by Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt’s excellent  The Ancient Origins of Consciousness, a book on the evolution of animal consciousness.  Somewhat building on what I had read in … Continue reading

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Is the singularity right around the corner?

You’ve probably heard the narrative before.  At some point, we will invent an artificial intelligence that is more intelligent than we are.  The superhuman intelligence will then have the capability to either build an improved version of itself, or engineer … Continue reading

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Dogs have metacognition, maybe

Last year in a post on panpsychism, I introduced a hierarchy I use to conceptualize the capabilities of systems that we intuitively see as conscious.  This isn’t a new theory of consciousness or anything, just my own way of making … Continue reading

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On imagination, feelings, and brain regions

The last post on feelings generated some excellent conversations.  In a couple of them, it was pointed out that my description of feelings put a lot of work on the concept of imagination, and that maybe I should expand on … Continue reading

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The construction of feelings

I’ve had a number of conversations lately on the subject of feelings, the affective states of having valences about conscious perception, such as fear, pain, joy, hunger, etc.  Apparently a lot of people view feelings as a very mysterious phenomenon.  … Continue reading

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The prospects for a scientific understanding of consciousness

Michael Shermer has an article up at Scientific American asking if science will ever understand consciousness, free will, or God. I contend that not only consciousness but also free will and God are mysterian problems—not because we are not yet … Continue reading

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Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor? Is that a relevant question?

A while back, Julia Galef on Rationally Speaking interviewed Eric Jonas, one of the authors of a study that attempted to use neuroscience techniques on a simple computer processor. The field of neuroscience has been collecting more and more data, … Continue reading

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