At New Scientist: The neuroscientists’ bet that a signature of human consciousness will be found in the brain has only five years to go…
|June 22, 2018||Posted by Denyse OLeary under Intelligent Design, Mind, Neuroscience|
If it is still on. From Per Snaprud at New Scientist:
TWENTY years ago this week, two young men sat in a smoky bar in Bremen, northern Germany. Neuroscientist Christof Koch and philosopher David Chalmers had spent the day lecturing at a conference about consciousness, and they still had more to say. After a few drinks, Koch suggested a wager. He bet a case of fine wine that within the next 25 years someone would discover a specific signature of consciousness in the brain. Chalmers said it wouldn’t happen, and bet against. (paywall) More.
And so now: Inside Higher Ed recently ran a piece on a scholarly meeting on consciousness, asking if it was “the World’s Most Bizarre Scholarly Meeting?” Chalmers is a big player at that meeting and Koch has been a panelist: “Equally disturbing was the panel on whether robots will become conscious. Last year, two prominent consciousness scholars, Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi, predicted that within decades, machines will be able to ‘write books, compose music, direct films, conceive new goals, as well as move, drive, fly, and, inevitably, fight.’”
A great deal depends on whether consciousness is the sort of thing that leaves a “signature” other than its effects. One is reminded of the Zen koan: Where is the flame after the candle goes out?
To get some idea what Koch’s Yes! wager is currently up against, see: From Scientific American: “we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness.” We can infer that the hard problem of consciousness is indeed hard when panpsychism is taken seriously in science publications. Scientific American is owned by Nature.
A cautious defense of panpsychism (everything is conscious) as an alternative to naturalist despair of the whole field of consciousness
Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself