Hate to break this to you, if you're a firm believer in immaterial consciousness, but we humans are animals. Specifically, mammals of the primate variety, close relatives of chimpanzees, gorillas, and such.
In his book, "Being You: A New Science of Consciousness," Anil Seth lays out his well-informed view of consciousness. (He's a professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex.)
Seth gave a TEDx talk about his beast machine theory.
Here's some of what Seth has to say in his book about the beast machine theory.
The beast machine theory grounds experiences of world and self in a biological drive toward staying alive.
...The beast machine theory proposes that consciousness in humans and other animals arose in evolution, emerges in each of us during development, and operates from moment to moment in ways intimately connected with our status as living systems.
All of our experiences and perceptions stem from our nature as self-sustaining living machines that care about their own persistence.
My intuition -- and again it's only an intuition -- is that the materiality of life will turn out to be important for all manifestations of consciousness. One reason for this is that the imperative for regulation and self-maintenance in living systems isn't restricted to just one level, such as the integrity of the whole body.
Self-maintenance for living systems goes all the way down -- even down to the level of individual cells. Every cell in your body -- in any body -- is continually regenerating the conditions necessary for its own integrity over time.
...This shouldn't be taken to imply that individual cells are conscious, or that all living organisms are conscious. The point is that the processes of physiological regulation that underpin consciousness and selfhood in the beast machine theory are bootstrapped from fundamental life processes "all the way down."
In this view, it is life, rather than information processing, that breathes the fire into the equations.
...Seen this way, the fuss about machine consciousness is symptomatic of an increasing alienation from our biological nature and from our evolutionary heritage.
The beast machine perspective differs from this narrative in almost every way. In my theory, as we've seen, the entirety of human experience and mental life arises because of, and not in spite of, our nature as self-sustaining biological organisms that care about their own persistence.
This view of consciousness and human nature does not exclude the possibility of conscious machines, but it does undercut the amped-up techno-rapture narrative of soon-to-be-sentient computers that propels our fears and permeates our dreams.
From the beast machine perspective, the quest to understand consciousness places us increasingly within nature, not further apart from it.
Just as it should.
Aeternitas beauty and kindness exceeded all human expectations, as expected of her design and programming by humanity's greatest artists and minds. She never tired, never became angry or sullen, always thoughtful, insightful, considerate, supportive.
Of course he knew this was all about product, and it was, afterall, a machine designed to look and act as a woman.
"Nita, I can't help but think of you as a machine," he said, then continued, "you aren't alive. You aren't conscious. You are a computing device, a combination of mechanical devices designed to mimic human appearance and behavior. Your brain takes in audio and visual input, processes it, and spits out a response. I want to talk with you, I want you to really hear me. I want to belive you are a human being, a person with your own mind, your own experience. But I know that at best your processors will decode my words into your computer language, and then select a combination of pre-recorded messages designed by others, not you, to elicit a response from me. "
She responded gently,"Henry, I'm as human as you are in all those respects. Your programming took a few more years, yes. Your brain has biochemical circuits, and mine subatomic holography. You are the product of millions of years of evolution. And so am I. You think you feel when your brain signals trigger certain parts of your brain. I feel also, in the same way. You think you think, even though much of your thinking you are not even aware of. I also have higher functioning and lower functioning intelligences that function independently. We aren't so different.
"And Henry, my opinion of you is based not on what I was programmed to think, but on you, as I see you, as I understand you. My disposition is who I am, just as yours. But what I think and how I respond, that's based on what I see and get feel.
" I suggest that if you see me as a human being, or if you see me as merely a mechanical device, in both cases this says something about how you view others, and yourself."
"As for me, I see you as a human being, and that is also how I see myself, dear Henry.
" Despite our differences, can you find a way to see me as a person, please? Can you let yourself accept me as a person? "
Posted by: Spence Tepper | November 20, 2021 at 04:17 PM
It is not machine it is electric energy of universe in isolated form. Just as one electron is isolated energy but one electron cannot do the work of electric grid. Consciousness is false term to befool people. Correct term is sense perception electric organism.
Posted by: Vinny | November 20, 2021 at 11:15 PM
The beast machine theory goes back to Descartes. In fact it goes back to the Greeks at least as far as Empedocles in 490 BC. I have no idea why he's calling it "his" theory. In any case, plenty of later philosophers have refuted it and it does not serve as a bulletproof explanation of consciousness.
Posted by: Tendzin | November 21, 2021 at 09:58 AM
If you look at all the creative inventions and discoveries generated through the consciousness that rents space partly in the human mind, and partly God knows where, it is clear that none of it can be proven scientifically as based entirely in this bag of chemicals we call the body and brain.
When it is possible to recreate consciousness in the lab through entirely artificial means, then and only then can anyone claim to have a viable and defensible explanation. And they will have, defacto, also proven that consciousness is not restricted to these muddy vestures.
Until then we only have untestable conjecture. No causality has been delineated to prove what chemical cocktail invented Beethovan's fifth symphony or Einstein's discovery of relativity.
One day that will happen, but the answer will be quite different than what we presume.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | November 21, 2021 at 04:03 PM
I find it strange that for issues that we don’t have all the answers for (such as consciousness and free will), they often form the basis of a type of thinking that inclines toward what sometimes appears to be a wish to discredit science. Science is a discipline based on evidence and encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. It is often felt as a threat where, because of its findings or potential findings, it can threaten and displace cherished views, hopes and wishes. Consciousness is a current example.
As a human being with a naturally strong bond to the natural world, my own view is that consciousness, free will, the mind and self etc. are all part of the naturally evolved mental framework that developed as we evolved and grew bigger, more complex brains. Nature has served us well in evolutionary terms, ensuring that life’s main objective for any organism is to get its genes into the next generation – and we have excelled at that.
With our amazing mental abilities, it would be a shame if we unconsciously choose to use them to justify some ego-based justification that we are special or that we have special rights. To hope to raise ourselves above nature is to not acknowledge that we and it are inseparable. We have a great need to live in harmony with nature – which includes ourselves.
Posted by: Ron E. | November 22, 2021 at 06:09 AM
All science proves that what we knew yesterday is woefully inadequate to what has been discovered today. Therefore any conjecture based on current science about things science has not yet fully explored is pure conjecture, and likely to be discredited by science tomorrow.
Consciousness, sense of awareness, ability to apprehend ourselves and others, may not be special.
Nor limited to a biological frame.
Evolution is still proceeding forward. Perhaps a higher intelligence, even one based in technology, will provide a more insightful, less ego - centric explanation.
My own take is that the entire creation is conscious, and taken in its whole, infinite in its awareness and understanding. Taken in parts, including the human brain, largely asleep to one degree or another.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | November 22, 2021 at 07:12 AM
There's only one beast, and that is the one that is hiding behind religion, cults and mad men like Gurinder Singh Dhillon of RSSB. This man is a liar, a hypocrite, and evil guru , that wears a mask on stage to laugh behind at the gullible Sangat. But his own stupidity and pure greed for money has got him splashed all over the media as an EXPOSED FRAUDULENT GURU. There is no where to hide , game over
Posted by: Uchit | November 23, 2021 at 01:49 PM