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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Twndividuality

4. Conscious Integrated Information Knowledge

Butlin, Patrick, et al. Consciousness in Artificial Intelligence: Insights from the Science of Consciousness. arXiv:2308.08708. In response to increasing concerns, nineteen veteran authorities including Chris Firth, Yousha Bengio and Grace Lindsay have prepared an extensive survey with 13 reference pages which could serve as an overview of the whole subject. (Yet as Eric Schmidt has recently said on TV, until a deeper philosophical ground is achieved such studies as this and the AI field will remain in abeyance.)

Whether current or near-term AI systems could be conscious is a new topic of scientific interest and increasing public concern. This report argues for, and exemplifies, a rigorous and empirically grounded approach to AI consciousness by a review of present AI systems in light of the best-supported neuroscientific theories. We survey several prominent scientific versions such as recurrent processing theory, global workspace theory, higher-order theories, predictive processing, and attention schema. From these theories we derive "indicator properties" elucidated in computational terms that allow us to assess AI approaches. We use these indicator properties to consider several recent AI systems, and we discuss how future versions might implement them. Our analysis suggests that no current AI method are conscious, but also suggests that there are no obvious technical barriers to building AI systems which satisfy these indicators. (Abstract)

Chalmers, David. Constructing the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. The Australian National University philosopher, author of the 1996 classic The Conscious Mind, continues his quest to limn the deepest essence of this extant realm we aware selves are born into. But what continues to pass for academic discourse seems inscrutably, almost deliberately dense. It is evident the man has something to report from these far frontiers, but as so many writings some 450 pages get lost in jargon such as “Tenth Excursus: Constructing Epistemic Space.” We quote from the publisher, if one may broach a translation, could it be the “elephant-like” reality that Rudolf, David, and everyone are quite trying to describe is much like a natural genesis with its own parental code?

David J. Chalmers constructs a highly ambitious and original picture of the world, from a few basic elements. He develops and extends Rudolf Carnap's attempt to do the same in Der Logische Aufbau Der Welt (1928). Carnap gave a blueprint for describing the entire world using a limited vocabulary, so that all truths about the world could be derived from that description--but his Aufbau is often seen as a noble failure. In Constructing the World, Chalmers argues that something like the Aufbau project can succeed. With the right vocabulary and the right derivation relation, we can indeed construct the world. The focal point of Chalmers's project is scrutability: roughly, the thesis that ideal reasoning from a limited class of basic truths yields all truths about the world. Chalmers first argues for the scrutability thesis and then considers how small the base can be. All this can be seen as a project in metaphysical epistemology: epistemology in service of a global picture of the world and of our conception thereof. The scrutability framework has ramifications throughout philosophy. Using it, Chalmers defends a broadly Fregean approach to meaning, argues for an internalist approach to the contents of thought, and rebuts W. V. Quine's arguments against the analytic and the a priori. He also uses scrutability to analyze the unity of science, to defend a conceptual approach to metaphysics, and to mount a structuralist response to skepticism. (Publisher)

Chalmers, David. The Character of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. The Australian National University philosopher and possibly the most sentient scholar in this field follows up and expands on his 1998 classic Six sections engage the Problems, Science, Metaphysics, Concepts, Contents, and Unity of Consciousness. See also his 2014 Constructing the World (search).

Chalmers, David. The Conscious Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. In a centerpiece book for the field, the University of Arizona philosopher makes a strong case for the reality of consciousness as more than a neural epiphenomenon. For a full appreciation of consciousness, a close relation with its information content is required. Chalmers’ website: www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/online. contains over 1100 papers on every aspect of the study of mind and sentience. See also Chalmers 2013 major work Constructing the World, reviewed in Current Vistas.

Chang, Acer, et al. ICT Information Closure Theory of Consciousness. arXiv:1909.13045. ARAYA, Inc., Tokyo neuroscientists including founder CEO Ryota Kanai (Google) situate their work within the growing endeavor to define and align sentient awareness with its relative knowledge content such as integrated information, global workspace and predictive processing models. An attempt is then made to finesse and join these aspects into an ICT synthesis that can fully express a systemic integration of working information for a more complete theory.

Information processing in neural systems can be described and analysed at multiple spatiotemporal scales. Generally, information at lower levels is more fine-grained and can be coarse-grained in higher levels. In this article, we introduce a new informational theory of consciousness: Information Closure Theory of Consciousness (ICT). We hypothesise that conscious processes form non-trivial informational closure (NTIC) with respect to the environment at certain coarse-grained levels. This hypothesis implies that conscious experience is confined due to informational closure from conscious processing to other coarse-grained levels. The implications of ICT naturally reconciles issues in many existing theories of consciousness and demonstrates that information can be the common language between consciousness and physical reality. (Abstract excerpt)

Global Brain has invested in ARAYA, an AI Startup aiming to develop the world first Artificial Consciousness and related technologies such as edge AI and autonomous agent technologies. As the continued lead investor, Global Brain (GB) has made investments in ARAYA (CEO: Ryota Kanai), a Japan-based AI startup aiming to develop systems with Artificial Consciousness technologies, (July 22, 2019 press release)

Changeux, Jean-Pierre. Reflections on the Origins of the Human Brain. Lagercrantz, Hugo, et al, eds. The Newborn Brain: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Noted also in Phylogeny and Ontogeny, the College de France, Institut Pasteur, neuroscientist provides a luminous addition via the latest appreciations of pre- and post-natal, fetal and infant, cognitive states to the processive advance of knowing consciousness. See also his chapter “The Molecular Biology of Consciousness” in Consciousness Transitions (Elsevier, 2007).

Phylogenetic Ancestors of the Human Brain. As mentioned above, many important anatomical features of our brain have been inherited from our direct ancestors. The soft parts of their brains may be lost forever, but comparison of the endocranial casts of modern humans and their fossil ancestors provides interesting information. It reveals striking analogies between the various stages of the phylogenetic evolution of the ancestors of H. sapiens and the ontogenetic development of the brain in the modern human. (6) The simplified topography of the human newborn meningeal system strikingly resembles the arrangement in Australopithecus robustus (who lived about three to two million years ago). The meningeal topography of Homo habilis, who lived two million years ago (cranial capacity 700 ml), is rather similar to that of a modern 40-day-old infant. Homo erectus, who lived one million years ago (cranial capacity of about 1000 ml), has a meningeal system topography similar to that of a modern 1-year-old child. (6)

Aware that the whole sequence of the human genome is known, the overall philosophy of the neurosciences is anticipated to shift from a strictly “reductionist” point of view to a “reconstructionist” approach. Knowing all the genes that serve as building blocks of the human being, the emphasis will be to understand the molecular and cellular networks of interaction which yield the so-called “complexity” of the human brain. (16)

Cleeremans, Axel, ed. The Unity of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. A collection of leading edge papers which consider how the phenomenon of knowing sentience evolves and arises in embodied persons.

As the contributions to this volume so vividly illustrate, explaining unity involves many different levels of analysis: From an understanding of the concept itself to the neural mechanisms that subtend it; from empirical studies on normal or disordered participants to overarching computational analyses of what it means for information to be integrated in the complex dynamical system that the brain undoubtedly is. (19)

Cleeremans, Axel, et al. Learning to be Conscious. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. December, 2019. As the abstract cites, a “meta-representation” is a “second-order” stage of a brain’s conceptual content so that a person can know that they know. Eight Free University of Brussels cognitive psychologists conceive a synthesis akin to integrated information theory such that the more someone gains vital knowledge, the more actively aware s/he becomes. In regard, by a mega-historic view we might refer to the “Great Learning” of Chinese tradition (Sterckx, Roel) and our 21st century sapiensphere to get a retrospective upon our grand Earthly and cosmic endeavor of sentient self-realization.

Different theories of consciousness have proposed many mechanisms to account for phenomenal experience. Here, appealing to aspects of global workspace theory, higher-order theories, social theories, and predictive processing, we introduce a novel framework: the self-organizing meta-representational account (SOMA), in which consciousness is viewed as something that the brain learns to do. By this account, the brain continuously and unconsciously learns to redescribe its own activity to itself, so developing systems of first-order representations. In this sense, consciousness is the brain’s (unconscious, embodied, enactive, nonconceptual) theory about itself. (Abstract)

Clement, Fabrice and Abraham Malerstein. What is it Like to be Conscious? The Ontogeny of Consciousness. Philosophical Psychology. 16/1, 2003. A study of the sequential lifetime phases of awakening ones individual sentience. This process is seen to move from initial phenomenal awareness in infancy to an ‘access’ of shifting representations for appropriate responses and onto the formation of a rational self in latter childhood. Throughout the paper is a tacit recapitulation between our personal ontogenesis of learning about the social and natural world and the cognitive phylogenesis of humankind.

Combs, Allan. Consciousness Explained Better: Towards an Integral Understanding of the Multifaceted Nature of Consciousness. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2009. Not yet seen, the California Institute of Integral Studies “transformative psychologist,” writes what Ken Wilber endorses as: “…the finest book on consciousness in modern times.”

Table of Contents: The Introduction, Chapter 1 – A Word Worn Smooth, Chapter 2 – Never at Rest, Chapter 3 – Four Streams of Experience, Chapter 4 – From One Great Blooming, Buzzing Confusion, Chapter 5 – The Adult Mind, Chapter 6 – States and Structures of Consciousness, Chapter 7 – The Hierarchy of Minds, Chapter 8 – Horizontal and Vertical Evolution of Consciousness, Chapter 9 – The Many Faces of Integral Consciousness.

Combs, Allan and Stanley Krippner. Jung and the Evolution of Consciousness. Psychological Perspectives. No. 33, 1996. The personal and planetary goal of self-awareness can be enlightened and empowered by the sciences of complexity.

Corballis, Michael. The Evolution of Consciousness. Zelazo, Philip, et al, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. We choose this contribution for itself and to introduce the large volume. As also popularly explained in the May/June issue of American Scientist, the University of Auckland psychologist proposes that a critical breakthrough to human linguistic cognition involved “recursion,” the ability to generate a series of representations which refer to and build on prior statements. (A process akin to algorithmic iteration or autopoietic cycles.) As a result, we are uniquely autonoetic entities who can know that they know.

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