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TED: Google Consciousness

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1
    A very intriguing TED talk discusses the similarities between consciousness arising in the brain (via Dan Dennett)and search algorithms. Would LOVE to get some more detailed insight into this from the community here.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2011 #2


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    Welcome to PhysicsForums!

    I'm not an AI specialist, a (real) programmer, or even someone who understands emergence, but I do recall Arthur C. Clarke and Steve Baxter using search-engine emergent intelligences as characters in the second of their Time Odyssey novels:

    The first two were definitely good reads (haven't picked up the last one, yet)
  4. Sep 16, 2011 #3


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    Hey Lightsabertoo and welcome to the forums.

    I haven't look at the TED talk you presented yet, but I will look at in the future (I've seen a few TED talks and they have all been very great and informative).

    With regards to the discussion of consciousness, our ability to structure and even describe it is not, at least in my opinion, at an acceptable level. In order to work with something and break it down you first have to describe it, and for a thing like consciousness, we don't have really have an apt way to even do this.

    When we first have the ability to clarify and describe our conception of what consciousness actually "is", then we will have taken the first step to understanding it and possibly even "replicating" it in some modest form (if not eventually, perhaps entirely), but until we have that ability to describe it, we will not have the ability to understand it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  5. Sep 16, 2011 #4
    Hey chiro - i agree that definitions of consciousness are often lacking. however, there are a few ways to look at it to get closer to what it may be.

    First off, consciousness is either the brain or a function of the brain (materialistic model) or there is some sort of soul or spirit stuff (dualism)

    so if it is the brain, then the 'meat' should not matter and it MUST come down to information processing in the brain.

    since information processing can be mapped, we should be able to map consciousness with computers.

    if it is soul stuff, well, i guess we may never be able to map it.

    In modern philosophy and neuroscience, consciousness is accepted as a function of the brain.
  6. Sep 16, 2011 #5


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    I think the most important aspect of consciousness, a subjective experience, is difficult to test in a search engine.
  7. Sep 16, 2011 #6
    i agree with that, however when you look at some of the definitions of consciousness, subjective experience or 'qualia' is just one component. many definitions of consciousness have a very narrow definition, like Dennett's in the TED talk.
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