Comments on Amil Seth “Being You”
An underlying theme in this book is of consciousness as a measurable variable. This is something that I can relate to. A few years ago I had a bonk on the head which resulted in bleeding in my brain. I became unconscious and was assessed as scoring 3 (the lowest value) on the Glasgow Coma scale, brain scans were showing it was a large bleed, and I was nearly 80. Not good. Questions were asked about my qualitity of life. The decision to operate was taken and I am now writing this. I have some minor physical impairments but as for mental impairment, perhaps I am not the best qualified to judge!
Measuring human consciousness in a clinical context is clearly a very worthwhile endeavour but not one that I want to pursue here.
A concept that is dealt with in this book and elsewhere is the “inner universe” (Ch. 2). It chimes in nicely with my idea of a “mind universe” which I came to from an entirely different angle.
I suppose the major question is what consciousness actually is.
The theory of IIT seems to be about information, both the quantity and how interconnected it is. In my discussion of a mind universe, which in my mind seems heavily cross linked compared to the world of science which has an unimaginable amount of information but minimal cross-linking
My cat (who likes to sit on my lap while I work on this computer, which is ok until she insists on nudging my arm operating the mouse). She is definitely conscious but differently to a human. She was mature when we got her and she quickly found her way around the house and, once she was allowed outside, found her way around the immediate surroundings, showing that she was forming internal maps and therefore has some sort of inner universe.
I think we can conclude from this that a component of consciousness is a sufficiently extensive and cross linked mind universe. But something more is needed. I suggest this is the capacity for novelty, which could manifest itself at its simplest level as a being able to play. My cat certainly seems to want to play and a human infant begins to play at a very early age.
Chaos, Computability, Creativity, and Consciousness.
Recursion in maths and computer studies means doing a process on an input and then repeating the process on the results. Examples of this are Chaos and weather forecasting, (the butterfly effect), the Mandlebrot set, Conway’s game of life, metacognition, and I think Baysian statistics.
Anecdotally, when I am inventing something, it seems that in my head I am going round and round trying to see the thing differently. Then an eureka moment leading to an updating of my mind universe, sometimes with the help of a drawing or spreadsheet.
I understand that in computer studies topic of recursion leads to identifying limits to computabilty which would suggest limits to the idea of any sort of clockwork universe and therefore with sufficient recursion, free will and being creative, become possible.
My page “Consciousness: a conjecture” is essentially a description of recursion and I suggest, for there to be consciousness, in addition to a sufficient mind universe, sufficient recursion is needed.
Another, perhaps more cogent to this discussion is that if conciousness is dependent on a combination of two parameters; a sufficient properly structured mind universe, and enough of the right sort of recursion, then it seem unlikely that there can be a single scale of consciousness.
Maybe it’s two dimensional, with Alpha-go in one corner; Tiny mind universe, lots of recursion, giving a novel outcome for a single topic.
So when has a machine become conscious? When it starts cracking jokes!