04 March 2008

Computing Consciousness?

Quick update for today: I just got hooked up with what seems like will be a sweet, paid writing gig for a website. Some of the material may overlap with what I post on here already, but the important thing is that somebody will be paying me. Not sure how much this will get in the way of SpaceshipBastille, but seriously, could I be more inconsistent anyway? Probably not.

In some amazing science/brain news, researchers are building a model brain from the bottom up. Best of all, what they have so far works! Unfortunately, it'll be some time before the full plans can be put to effect because our brains are far more powerful than the supercomputers we have available. I really appreciated what the head neuroscientist, Henry Markram, said about consciousness near the end of the article:
"There is nothing inherently mysterious about the mind or anything it makes," Markram says. "Consciousness is just a massive amount of information being exchanged by trillions of brain cells. If you can precisely model that information, then I don't know why you wouldn't be able to generate a conscious mind."

Since the time I first started engaging the ideas of consciousness that many philosophers and scientists probe, I've wondered if folks were overthinking everything, that our consciousness just is the experience of processing so much information simultaneously. We think there must be something else to it, when really it's just that there is so much going on that keeping it all together is simply too overwhelming. Thinking about the extent of the universe or how something could be "infinite" is overwhelming to most minds, so the fact that our brains are continually processing so much information surely inhibits our ability to make sense of that processing. In some way I'm sure this is connected to meditation and "clearing your mind" type actions (or non-action, really). I guess my ultimate point is that we are the products of our processing of experiences and perceptions of the world around us. To think that there's something else going on seems a bit daft, eh?

Seed Mag: "Out of the Blue"

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