[ExI] The simplest possible conscious system

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 4 14:35:27 UTC 2010

The simplest possible conscious system

Spencer Campbell <lacertilian at gmail.com> asked:

> I'd be interested to hear from each of you a description of what would
> constitute the simplest possible conscious system, and whether or not
> such a system would necessarily also have intelligence or
> understanding.

Hm, interesting challenge.

I'd probably define Intelligence as problem-solving ability, and 
Understanding as the association of new 'concept-symbols' with established ones.

I'd take "Conscious" to mean "Self-Conscious" or "Self-Aware", which almost certainly involves a mental model of one's self, as well as an awareness of the environment, and one's place in it.

I'd guess that the simplest possible conscious system would have an embodiment ('real' or virtual) within an environment, sensors, actuators, the ability to build internal representations of both its environment and itself, and by implication some kind of state memory.  Hm. maybe we already have conscious robots, and don't realise it!

This is just a stab in the dark, though, I may be way off.

As for possessing intelligence and understanding, the simplest possible conscious system almost certainly wouldn't have much of either, although by my definitions above, there would have to be *some* of both. Just not very much (it would need Intelligence only if it's going to try to survive).

Ben Zaiboc


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