The substitution argument

Diagram of Phenomenal and Functional consciousness

A preprint came up a few times in my feeds, titled: Falsification and consciousness.  The paper argues that all the major scientific theories of consciousness are either already falsified or unfalsifiable.  One neuroscientist, Ryota Kanai, calls it a mathematical proof of the hard problem.  Based on that description, it was hard to resist looking at … Continue reading The substitution argument

Building a consciousness-detector

Joel Frohlich has an interesting article up at Aeon on the possibility of detecting consciousness.  He begins with striking neurological case studies, such as the one of a woman born without a cerebellum, yet fully conscious, indicating that the cerebellum is not necessary for consciousness. He works his way to the sobering cases of consciousness … Continue reading Building a consciousness-detector

The battle between integration and workspace will take a while

Well, I find this a bit disappointing.  I was hoping that the contest between global workspace theory (GWT) and integrated information theory (IIT) would be announced sometime this year.  Apparently, I'm going to have to wait awhile: Pitts describes the intention of this competition as “to kill one or both theories,” but adds that while … Continue reading The battle between integration and workspace will take a while

A response to the unfolding argument: a defense of Integrated Information Theory

Back in May,  I shared a paper that made a blistering attack on the integrated information theory (IIT) of consciousness.  A major point of IIT is that a specific causal structure is necessary to generate phenomenal experience, namely a feedback or recurrent neural network, that is, a neural network with structural loops.  To be clear, … Continue reading A response to the unfolding argument: a defense of Integrated Information Theory

A competition between integration and workspace

Back in March, I did a post on a proposed Templeton Foundation project to test major scientific theories of consciousness.  The idea was to start with a head to head competition between the integration information theory (IIT) and global workspace theory (GWT).  Apparently that project got funded and, according to a Science Magazine article, there … Continue reading A competition between integration and workspace

Empirical vs Fundamental IIT and the benefits of instrumentalism

The other day, when discussing a paper that criticized IIT (the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness) as unscientific, I noted that IIT, while questionable as the ultimate answer for consciousness, could be useful in the more limited capacity of distinguishing degrees of consciousness in a brain.  Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that, … Continue reading Empirical vs Fundamental IIT and the benefits of instrumentalism

The unfolding argument: why Integrated Information Theory is not scientific

There's an interesting new paper in Consciousness and Cognition on why causal theories such as IIT (integrated information theory) or RPT (recurrent processing theory) aren't scientific: How can we explain consciousness? This question has become a vibrant topic of neuroscience research in recent decades. A large body of empirical results has been accumulated, and many … Continue reading The unfolding argument: why Integrated Information Theory is not scientific

Is Consciousness Universal?: Scientific American

These century-old arguments bring me to the conceptual framework of the integrated information theory (IIT) of psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It postulates that conscious experience is a fundamental aspect of reality and is identical to a particular type of information—integrated information. Consciousness depends on a physical substrate but is … Continue reading Is Consciousness Universal?: Scientific American

More on computer consciousness

After discussion on my post the other day on consciousness being in the eye beholder, I realized that I probably should expand a bit on my hypothesis about what we would intuitively consider to be a conscious being. We, as minds, are aware.  We have awareness from our senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste.  From the … Continue reading More on computer consciousness