The Window Through Which Consciousness Peeks

I admit I drifted off towards the end of my last post. It was late at night and I got really tired and for some stupid reason the idea of a virus came into my mind. God, maybe it was an inspiration from on high, a supernatural intervention ;-).  In any case it caused me to drift off and not stick to the point I was trying to make.  So I try again:

I was speaking about artificial life forms and how they never could achieve real consciousness no matter how smart and clever their AI. Sure, they can fool us, but we are fooled easily by external appearances.  We know because we all are experts at fooling others.  How often have we lied about how we truly feel inside, how often disguised the pain of a fractured heart, the many disappointments and hurtful experiences.  We are masters of disguise.

Yet we also know that we can’t fool ourselves. We know when we’re hurting inside, we know when we’re dishonest with the other person because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or when we pretend to like somebody whom we detest. We could try to digitise all those experiences and program them into a robot and no matter how hard we tried, it won’t raise any sincere feeling in that machine.

A robot could be our best friend for we programmed it to please and agree with us always, to only say nice things and be gentle and loving.  We could program it with all the works of the great philosophers, writers,, historians, mathematicians and scientists and make it the most intelligent being on earth, it might even entertain us for a while but it never could satisfy our thirst for a real companion.

A live dog is more preferable than a machine for it sincerely does show affection, even if it’s only based on reward and a natural survival instinct. Some dogs can become so much attached to a person that when the person dies the dog dies also.  There is something real in a relationship between a person and his pet but even a pet cannot meet all of mankind needs.

As humans we’re driven by instincts, desires and passions like dogs, cats and any other animal.  We share a lot of our DNA with them and therefore share a lot of their behaviour patterns.  If there were nothing else driving mankind we would  just be an animated life form, enslaved by our DNA encoding.

Humans however have something that is unique amongst all lifeforms, they have the ability to think and rationalise. A human can resist his urges by simply deciding not to do something or doing the exact opposite of it.   Humans don’t just follow instincts but they can weigh things up, act counter-intuitively, pre-meditate a chain of consequences and choose to act or not to act upon their findings.

Humans can be divided into two groups, those who predominantly follow their instincts and are therefore more driven like animals to do things and those who resist predisposed behaviour patterns and choose to act in a rational and sensible way.  The reason we can do this is because we have awareness, especially self-awareness.

From an evolutionary standpoint it could be argued that becoming self-aware was a result of natural selection, where survival depended on acting counter-intuitively. At one point in the evolutionary ladder a primeval human by accident made a move that went against his natural instincts. It might have been caused by a disease, a temporary disability.  However it happened, he became ‘aware’ that his action caused a beneficial outcome.

The primeval human who was before simply following programs running in his brain like the ‘fight or flight’ instinct now begun weighing situations up. To flee or to fight became now a conscious decision.

I do however challenge the idea that consciousness evolved like this.  As I said before, if consciousness is achieved through a chemical and biological process alone, we have no guarantee that after death not a consciousness is achieved that awakes itself as another ‘me’, creating in a sense a pseudo continuation of life.

The idea of eternity, that something always existed and always will, overwhelms us. In science we often hear the big bang mentioned but even the big bang is not an ultimate beginning, but most likely part of a cyclic event. The universe expands until it can’t expand any further or fizzles out into infinitesimal spaces and exhausts all energy.  The released energy into space could possibly reverse the process causing the universe to shrink again until it condenses into one single point from which a nuclear fusion will start the big bang all over again.  Nobody really knows but one thing is for sure, there has been something before the big bang and it goes way back to all eternity.

Considering this fact that something always exists we have to consider that consciousness always existed, too.  Consciousness is most likely in my opinion a fragmented aspect of something much bigger. Let’s say the whole of the universe is conscious and expresses itself through the fragments of life. Consciousness therefore is not something that has evolved but we are the windows through which consciousness takes a peek.

Think about this for a while.

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