The mysteries of the mind are second only to The Mother of All Mysteries. And consciousness is the most baffling problem of the mind.
We are all aware. At least I think we all are. I know I am and I assume that all other humans experience the same feeling of awareness. This is not as obvious as it may seem. In fact, in studying consciousness the concept of ZOMBIE has been proposed. These are "humans" who are not aware. Indistinguishable from other normal conscious humans, a Zombie is an entity physically and behaviorally identical to a normal human but one who is not aware. It goes about behaving as humans do, reacting to its environment, yet not conscious.
Consciousness is a very strange thing. It seems to need a brain to be sustained but we don't know what properties a physical system has to have to be aware. We never have observed a disembodied consciousness, so it seems that at least a physical container is necessary.
Is a highly complex organization sufficient to give rise to consciousness? Complex processes?
What is the minimum requirement? Is a dog aware? I think so. Is a fly aware? I think so. Is a germ aware???
Would systems much more complex than a brain give rise to higher or different levels of consciousness?
Perhaps the universe as a whole is conscious.
Is it possible that one day man will build systems so complex that they'll be conscious? There isn't a doubt in my mind that such a day will come...
The problem of explaining why physical processes give rise to conscious phenomenal experience is called the "hard problem" of consciousness. In my opinion, the HOW is a harder problem because consciousness has no choice but to exist if the proper conditions are present.
Did consciousness evolve? How could evolution come up with something like consciousness? For that matter, how did evolution develop the MIND.
Natural Selection my foot!!!
Never mind the eye or the brain. These are physical systems. But CONSCIOUSNESS?
One day, in a little mindless creature, evolution said:
Hey, wouldn't Consciousness be a cool thing to have?
Consciousness seems to play a fundamental role in the universe. In fact, an experiment's results are influenced by the presence of an observing consciousness.
You know what I think? That we should put money into consciousness research. There isn't a doubt in my mind that solving the mysteries of consciousness will give technology a quantum push. Undoubtedly in the future we will have conscious devices. To most this is an abhorrent idea but it will happen.
Maybe supercomputers are already developing a consciousness of sorts. Maybe the Internet, a complex system with complex processes, is becoming AWARE?
That sounds like a good premise for a Sci-Fi movie...
If such things as those can eventually be aware, will they also exhibit FREE WILL?
Understanding consciousness will also help us understand what we really are.