The purpose of this site is to present a possible definition of consciousness. The definition will try to encompass the different aspects of consciousness as we experience it, and provide a concrete framework for thinking about consciousness. It is based on a hypothesis for how we experience the world and our thoughts (the two parts of consciousness). The key idea is that "thoughts" can be considered or defined as "predicting what I would say to myself."
I hope to start a discussion about the merits and flaws of this definition, and how it can help us think about consciousness. I also plan to add more content to the site, explaining particular parts of the definition in more detail, answering questions, and possible ways the definition can be useful.
9/30/12 - An interesting discussion about the "The first rule of consciousness." Basically, we can only be rational about a very small amount of our thinking and decisions. Most of our understanding of the world will happen subconsciously, and most of that will be based on habit, bias and shortcuts. Or, as a formula:
Ri >> Ru >> Rc
the Rate at which useful information becomes available >> the Rate at which a brain can make use of it >> the Rate at which we can consciously understand it.
12/9/11 - Added a paper that lays out the framework for working with evolution on different scales to the Other Papers section. It covers some ideas I've been thinking about, and the next step will be applying the framework to more complex subjects like intelligence, consciousness, ect.
10/14/11 - Just updated the Other Papers section with a short look at the assumptions that are necessary for Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment as well as other conclusions that we can draw from them.
9/8/11 - I'm taking the online version of the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence being offered by Stanford. It's free and open to anyone, should be interesting, and you can still go and sign up - first class is October 10th. In antcipation I've been thinking about intelligence, and how to define it (artificial or otherwise), and posted a paper on the subject in the other papers section. Part of the assumption I'm making is that consciousness isn't a requirement for intelligence, but after reflecting on the framework proposed it looks like we may be able to use it to make some interesting predictions on consciousness and why it's such a useful tool to have for intelligent beings.
8/27/11 - Added a new section to the site Other Papers for some writting that doesn't directly involve thnking about consciousness. The first new piece there are some thoughts on the definition of knowledge as "logical true belief" and Gettier problems.
Also, a great article that summerizes a lot of different research in to how the brain can rewire itself in responce to conscious thought. It's already over four years old at this point, don't know how I missed it. The Brain: How The Brain Rewires Itself
8/4/11 - Just saw this new research on PET scans on monkeys revealing that their brains have a "default state" similiar to ours which has been linked to having an internal thought process. Here's the original paper and here's a good summary from a BBC blog
6/21/11 - Received a few questions about qualia, and how different arguments about their properties or existance might impact the theory presented here. I posted some thoughts on the subject on the Questions page. Obviously this subject deserves a lot more attention, but this should be a good overview of how I think qualia relate to other areas of consciousness (if it is even fair to split up the subject that way).
5/24/11 - Just posted the latest draft of the paper on the Defining Consciousness page. The ideas and definition are the same, but it's a complete rewrite to try and put more emphasis on the important ideas, and hopefully explain them in a slightly clearer way. The comments sent to me and discussion on this site have definitely helped me to focus on the more difficult ideas. The previous version of the paper is on the Archive page along with a link to the discussion relating to that paper.