[ExI] The simplest possible conscious system

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 00:11:08 UTC 2010

Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>:
> If "conscious" is taken to mean "exhibiting the same information
> processing features of an average adult, healthy, alert, educated
> human being" the theoretical answer for me corresponds to the question
> "what is the simplest possible universal computer".

Of course "conscious" is not taken to mean that here, nor anything
like that, if only for the reasons pointed out by James Choate two or
three days ago. Humans are ludicrously complex examples of
consciousness (assuming they are conscious at all), and almost
completely useless for finding an answer to the question.

Unless, of course, we can incrementally subtract non-vital functions,
paring down a prototypical human being to nothing more than a
consciousness-generating machine. Then we have to think about how
humans do it at all. This is an excellent line of inquiry to pursue.

Most awake people are conscious, and most asleep people are
unconscious. Agreed? Agreed.

What about other states? Peculiar cases may be illustrative here. Is a
lucid dreamer conscious? Any other dreamer? A blacked-out drunk? A
hypnosis subject? An acid head?

I've heard of mental states available in meditation that eradicate the
subject-object duality, and others that are devoid of all content save
for vast diffuse consciousness. The latter is obviously conscious, by
definition, but I don't know about the former; if I am meditating on
an idol, and then perceive myself to be identical with the idol, am I
conscious? Is the idol?

There aren't a lot of sharp lines to be drawn here. This much is
obvious. Aside from that, I have very little to contribute. Can any
experienced psychonauts lend some anecdotal evidence here?

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