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ehinchcl's picture

So I think all the

So I think all the discussion about the definition of consciousness is incredibly interesting-- and im not sure that there really is just one right answer. Kendra's above idea about a spectrum seems to me like a good way to define things, as with many of our topics, there is no black and white "conscious" "unconscious" with this definition and it is best to look at it with all of the variability in mind. I think one thing that has sort of been brought up as well is this idea that we will never really know another person's consciousness (beetle in a box idea) which also adds to the complexity of the issue. We define others as conscious all the time-- like when my professors think i am conscious AND attending to the material at hand but i'm actually daydreaming. Does that mean that their interpretation of my consciousness is wrong? (Which brings up a whole different issue that has also been discussed above about attention versus consciousness) Am I "unconscious" with respect to them? I sort of like this idea: that you can be conscious or unconscious WITH RESPECT to things... which fits into a our driving a car example.

Antoher interesting thing that i wanted to bring up, somewhat anecdotally, is the idea of productive thought in an unconscious setting. I know that when im thinking about work just before I go to bed I'll think of some of my best ideas, but then when i fully return to my awake state (even just afterwards when i tell myself i need to write the thought down) i can never get the phrasing or the idea quite right. Is there a state where we are able to think crticially and productively while still being unconscious? this relates to the above topics that were brought up about unconscious education, which i think is really interesting. can we practice putting ourselves into this state of lower attention in order to learn in new and different ways? is this better or worse?

lastly, since this discussion has been a bunch of little tidbits of thoughts anyway, i wanted to bring up the idea of artificial intelligence. We talked about the blue chip (Gillian's presenation i think?) which is trying to create a working brain from the neuron to neuron connections and upward. Would such a creation have consciousness? When we talked about it before we thought that it would-- sort of. We didn't say so explicitly, but we did get the feeling that if the creation was actaully exactly like a brain then it should function as such and have some form of consciousness so we all felt morally that it would be bad to simply turn such a thing off. do we really believe that consciousness is simply a combination of all of the neural connections and firing? as a biologist i want to be able to explain it as such, but this (and the thoguhts above, especially about the after-death phenomenon) really forces you to ponder ideas outside of the root science... such as faith and morality.

thanks for such an interesting discussion


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