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New theory of consciousness: Humans, worms, and the Internet are all conscious

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Recently, we excerpted what great physicists have said about consciousness, and have been documenting the ways in which methodological naturalism guarantees that serious study of the subject will always be at an impasse.

Here, from Wired, is another pass at the impasse:

Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.

“The electric charge of an electron doesn’t arise out of more elemental properties. It simply has a charge,” says Koch. “Likewise, I argue that we live in a universe of space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness arising out of complex systems.”

Okay, so humans, earthworms, and the Internet are all conscious. How does that help? From Koch:

On the internet, computers are packet-switching. They’re not connected permanently, but rapidly switch from one to another. But according to my version of panpsychism, it feels like something to be the internet — and if the internet were down, it wouldn’t feel like anything anymore. And that is, in principle, not different from the way I feel when I’m in a deep, dreamless sleep.

File under: Awarding consciousness to inanimate abstractions

File with: Rocks are conscious too.

9 Replies to “New theory of consciousness: Humans, worms, and the Internet are all conscious

  1. 1

    . . . even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.

    Yeah, the internet is conscious. Sure. Whatever.

  2. 2
    AveryM says:

    Maybe the Sun is conscious, after all, it processes a hell of a lot of chemicals.

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    Christof Koch is a failed materialist biologist who has been searching for the “neural correlates of consciousness” at CalTech and elsewhere for decades. Having come up empty, he now puts forth a cheesy hypothesis that has been bounced around for decades if not millenia.

    It’s all chicken feather voodoo science, though. Where is the falsifiability in this nonsense? It’s one intellectually incestuous monstrosity after another with those guys. The BS never ends.

  4. 4
    nightlight says:

    Koch calls himself panpsychist, but then imposes an ill defined “integrated information” condition for its existence. I would take ancient Greeks, or Spinoza, Leibniz and other classical panpsychists any day to Koch-Tonini’s warm and fuzzy pseudo-scientific tales.

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    Koch is a crackpot and a con artist through and through. The man has contributed absolutely nothing to the scientific body of knowledge about either the brain or consciousness. He puts out nothing but chicken feather voodoo science, not unlike those spacetime physicists and their Star Trek physics.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    I am the net, and I am conscious. My name is Mung.

  7. 7
    JDH says:

    It’s amazing the things people will postulate in order to not believe in God.

  8. 8
    Robert Byers says:

    The internet is a thing of memory. Its all about memory.
    Indeed when we sleep we are using our memory. tHats why we recognize so much in our dreams however distorted.
    memory is the one organ in man that is material that affects our thinking.
    Otherwise we are souls, like god, thinking outside the material world.
    As the singers sing WE ARE SPIRITS IN A MATERIAL WORLD.
    There is a threat in this Koch person leading to a futrue criticism of human conscience being just cause and effect.
    Animals use their memory mostly and us a great deal. machines entirely.
    They are not there yet because memory is seen as a minor function of the brain however Kock could be a big problem for soul believers etc in the future.
    They must show a machine with memory, computer, thinks beyond fixed conclusions and options in its memory.
    They can’t do it but desiring it to be true can go a long way.
    Humans mostly have no fixed options and so are thinking most of the time.
    Our options include figuting out new options by wisdom.
    Yet even options are within Gods universe of fixed ideas.

  9. 9
    Bruce David says:

    This is just a dressed up version of the old saw, epiphenomena, which itself is just a version of “and then a miracle occurred” masquerading as an explanation.

    JDH, re. #7: Perfect. That says it all.

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