Ideapod – Consciousness

What is consciousness? An Ideapod survey

This is a really complex topic.

It seems that consciousness is a loosely defined term that means different things to different people.

There is a piece on my blog I wrote about 3 years ago that encapsulates most of it –

It seems that the sort of consciousness we experience, is a software entity experiencing a software model of reality, resident in a human brain.

Human beings are exceptionally complex (as are most living entities) and have about 20 levels of systems present. The numerical complexity is mind numbing – see

So as someone who has been investigating this question for about 50 years, from the perspectives of systems, biochemistry, logic, strategy, evolution, etc – it seems to me that few people have much idea about it, and those that are most confident are the least likely to be accurate.

[followed by]

Almost Bill,

You accurately report the idea that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know, but take a rather odd (in my understanding) conclusion from that (unless I completely misunderstand your words – which is entirely possible).

To me it seems clear that the entire notion of “Knowledge” is illusion in a very real sense.

It now seems clear, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that all we really have is probabilities.

Sure – reality seems to be whatever it is, whatever that is, and we don’t get to experience that directly.

It now seems clear that all human experience is of a subconsciously assembled and slightly predictive model of reality, and never reality itself. As such our experiential model is the product of many levels of simplifying “hacks” that have been produced by evolution over deep time in both the biological and cultural (mimetic) contexts.

So in this sense, Plato simply couldn’t have been more wrong, yet also pointed remarkably close .


[followed by]


Hi Bill

Yes, we make choices on what seems mostly likely to us.

There are all sorts of cognitive biases that get in the way of people doing that accurately – see E Yudkowski – Rationality AI-Zombies for a good catalogue.

The idea that we make decisions before we know we did has some truth to it and is mostly based upon incorrect assumptions.
Yes – we decide before things happen in reality, and that is in large measure because our experiential reality is a predictive model of reality, running about 200ms ahead of reality itself – that allows us to stay close to realtime with our actions, without having to consciously allow for the lag in everything we do because of transmission delays.

So it is only partially accurate.

Experientially we do get to decide, within our own timeframe, which is not quite the timeframe of reality.

One of the many aspects most AI theorists haven’t quite caught up to yet.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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