It's pretty nice to see Kurzgesagt finally continuing its "Big Questions of Life and the Universe" series. I shared the first part on consciousness over a year go. The series is funded by the Templeton Foundation, which I know many people have issues with, but so far the content has been reasonably scientific. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck4RGeoHFko As … Continue reading Kurzgesagt on intelligence, and prospects for engineered intelligence
How do we know whether any particular system is conscious? In humans, we typically know because most humans can talk about their conscious experience. Historically, if we can report on it, it's conscious; if we can't, it's in the unconscious. But this raises a difficulty for any entity that doesn't have language, including non-human animals, … Continue reading There is no phenomenality without access
Keith Frankish has an interesting article at Psyche pondering what ability separates modern humanity from archaic humans (such as homo erectus). His vote is hypothetical thinking. From the article: The ability I mean is that of hypothetical thinking – the ability to detach one’s mind from the here and now, and consciously think about other … Continue reading Communication and hypothetical thinking
Infant consciousness seems like a difficult question. It's one people often react to with outrage that it's even being asked. Of course they're conscious, is the sentiment. Aren't they human, and don't we see them crying, showing facial expressions, and exhibiting other behaviors? Others conclude that there's no real way to know since they can't … Continue reading Are babies conscious?
Read any mainstream neuroscience book, and one of the things you'll typically see is an admission that while a lot is known about the operations of neurons and synapses, and a lot about high level signalling patterns in various brain regions, along with a good amount on how sensory processing happens in some regions (such … Continue reading Assembly Calculus: the missing link between mind and brain?
Aeon, in their weekend newsletter, highlighted an old article from Carolyn Dicey Jennings on attention and the self. I recall reading this article when it was published, but apparently didn't share or discuss it, I suspect because I had mixed feelings about it. I still do. Consciousness scientists have a tendency to look at attention … Continue reading Attention and what we should expect from theories of the mind
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Recently I noted that one of the current debates in cognitive science is between those who see phenomenal and access consciousness as separate things, and those who see them as different aspects of the same thing. Closely related, perhaps actually identical, is the debate between local and global theories of consciousness. Local … Continue reading Postdictive perception and the consciousness finish line
This is the final post in a series I've been doing on Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka’s book: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul, a book focused on the evolution of minimal consciousness. This is a large book, and it covers a wide range of ideas. A series of relatively small blog posts can't do them … Continue reading Final thoughts on The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul
I'm still working my way through Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka's tome: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul. This is the second post of a series on their book. I'm actually on the last chapter, but that last chapter is close to a hundred pages long, and the book's prose is dense. Light reading it … Continue reading The seven attributes of minimal consciousness
I think examining the evolution of consciousness in animals helps shed light on it in humans. Admittedly, there are difficulties. Animals can't self report using language, which limits just how much of their experience can be garnered from experiments. Still, taking data from human studies and combining it with animal studies can provide a lot … Continue reading The sensitive soul and the rational soul