The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Earlier this year I discussed Victor Lamme's theory of consciousness, that phenomenal experience is recurrent neural processing, that is, neural signalling that happens in loops, from lower layers to higher layers and back, or more broadly from region to region and back.  In his papers, Lamme notes that recurrent processing is an … Continue reading The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness

The problem with Mary’s room

For some reason, Mary's room has been garnering attention lately.  This TED Ed video on it was shared on Aeon's site this week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGYmiQkah4o The wording of the actual thought experiment is important, so quoting Frank Jackson's words (via the Wikipedia article on the knowledge argument): Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, … Continue reading The problem with Mary’s room

The facilitation hypothesis

Jonathan Birch has an interesting paper in Noûs: The search for invertebrate consciousness.  Birch notes that there is no consensus on whether any invertebrates are conscious, and no agreement on a methodology for establishing whether they are. He starts off assessing the difficulties of applying many human centric theories, such as global workspace, which don't … Continue reading The facilitation hypothesis

Regular people: What hard problem of consciousness?

The hard problem of consciousness, a term coined by philosopher David Chalmers, asks how physical systems can produce phenomenal consciousness.  Chalmers' term, coined in the 1990s, applied to an older problem that's been around for along time, the mind-body problem.  More recently, Chalmers noted his intuition that the hard problem is widely and intuitively held … Continue reading Regular people: What hard problem of consciousness?

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

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

This is an interesting video from Big Think.  It features discussion from a variety of thinkers like Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, Susan Schneider, and others, including a lot of intelligent remarks from someone I wasn't familiar with until now, Joanna Bryson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETVr_lpIMO0 Consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder.  There is no universally agreed … Continue reading Does conscious AI deserve rights?

There is no phenomenality without access

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

Are babies conscious?

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?

Attention and what we should expect from theories of the mind

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