If the standard for "consciousness" were -- for the purposes of this discussion -- reduced down to an "exchange of information", might then all things within the Universe have a "level of consciousness" based on the COMPLEXITY of the information being exchanged (sent/sensed/processed/retained/responded-to)? Thus, a "simple" level of "consciousness" might be represented by the "information" mediated by the weak and strong forces that dictate their ever-changing relationships to one another. One might think of gravity as mediating information between bodies of varying masses, giving THEM their dynamic relationships to one another ...and making them "conscious" of each other ...according to the singular parameter. The human brain has evolved to sense/process/retain/send/receive information of extreme complexity ...making the entity it navigates (things with brains) "highly conscious" and may be considered at the "higher end" of the "consciousness continuum". But it is only that ...an organic device designed to process (receive/store/USE) a LOT of information. It -- the brain -- or "human consciousness" itself --might then NOT be the only "form" of consciousness in/of the Universe ...just a part of a CONTINUUM that represents varying levels of complexity of information being exchanged between "physical" (and "non-physical") bodies. With "information exchange" as the sole parameter for "consciousness" (as arbitrary, I agree, as accepted parameters of consciousness currently are) -- and the Universe being "ALL INFORMATION ALL THE TIME" -- might it not be seen that "consciousness" is a FUNDAMENTAL feature/ingredient/process of the Universe ...not something that "emerged" when systems became sufficienty complex to "generate it" out of nothing?