From Matthew Davidson at The Conversation:
Integrated Information Theory (IIT), and was proposed in 2008 by Guilio Tononi, a US-based neuroscientist.
It also has one rather surprising implication: consciousness can, in principle, be found anywhere where there is the right kind of information processing going on, whether that’s in a brain or a computer.
The theory says that a physical system can give rise to consciousness if two physical postulates are met.
The first is that the physical system must be very rich in information.
This brings us to the second postulate, which is that for consciousness to emerge, the physical system must also be highly integrated.
The authors report some success in testing a related idea, distinguishing between states of consciousness such as dreamless sleep and dreaming sleep.
If consciousness is indeed an emergent feature of a highly integrated network, as IIT suggests, then probably all complex systems – certainly all creatures with brains – have some minimal form of consciousness.
Not necessarily. Brains are a good thing to study re consciousness, to be sure, but some life forms may have some types of consciousness without a brain.
By extension, if consciousness is defined by the amount of integrated information in a system, then we may also need to move away from any form of human exceptionalism that says consciousness is exclusive to us. More.
Few will have far to move then because few hold that only humans are conscious. Making such a claim weakens the author’s argument. But other life forms simply don’t use the consciousness we recognize in each other.
See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain
Animal minds: In search of the minimal self
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
Follow UD News at Twitter!