When I say “magic” — and I’m using that word as per Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement — I’m just wondering what is special about biological machines that they can generate consciousness where electronic ones may not. If a computer envisages a tsunami in exquisite detail, it does not get wet nor shaken about, but neither does a brain, surely?

We know everything about how the body and brain work on a physical level. It is nothing but chemistry and neuro-electricity. If consciousness is some sort of activity that is produced by the physical processes of the brain, then how and where is it happening? You say we don’t know, and in that case Clarke’s Third Law says it is indistinguishable from magic.

If a computer were conscious, then how could we possibly know? Are you taking the position that I am conscious? How could you possibly know? All you see are pixels on a computer screen. Even if we met in real life, the same situation obtains.

As Descartes noted, there’s only one consciousness one may be sure about, and that is one’s own.

I can’t explain how consciousness works in any detail, and you suggest that like others, my ideas on the subject are incoherent. But you cannot provide any details either, but somehow you are convinced that your own view is correct. May I ask how this occurs? Surely if you had the solution, then you would also have the Nobel Prize that goes along with it?

Consciousness is something that has been pondered over for thousands of years. We’ve found out the solutions to many things that stumped the ancients, but not this one. Yet.


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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