We are not conscious

Consciousness, at its simplest, is “sentience or awareness of internal or external existence”.

I’ve been thinking about the Singularity, the rise of the Machines, of AGI (artificial general intelligence) and how all of this may or may not give rise to AC – Artificial Consciousness.

We are not conscious. By that, I mean that this elevated concept of “Self” that we attribute only to ourselves—is a tautological illusion. It’s a transcendence we perpetrate as an ideal we set as an intelligence bar only we, so far, have attained.

Now, we can forever debate what consciousness is. No true definition has emerged from the age-old philosophical grindstone. But that won’t stop me from stepping up and out of the discussion and providing an armchair scientific analysis of the concept.

We think we’re conscious. OK, let’s go with that for now.

What if we take our brains, the source of our so-called consciousness, (we’ll include all the input senses and feedback loops connected to it), and cut our processing power in half. All the neurons, the tactile, aural, visual, all the sensory inputs and billions of neural connections — whack! Take just half.

Do you think the resulting entity would still be conscious? Who knows… Maybe, right? Okay, then let’s cut it in half again. And again.

Now we have an entity one-eighth of the mental capability of a human. Is that creature conscious? Let’s say they have the cognitive and sensory capacity of a salamander. Conscious? Some will still say, who knows? Well, for the sake of argument, let’s say Newt is incapable of the notion of “Self”. If they look in a mirror they won’t see themselves, a, you know, “Hey, don’t I look gooooood!” moment.

All we did to get to Newt, and his unconsciousness, was to regress our own capability backwards. If we progress in the opposite direction, doubling Newt’s brain and sensory power, we arrive at humanity’s ability level. And we’re to believe that once we get “here,” we’ve magically attained consciousness?

Maybe, consciousness is simply a capacity concept. What we think of as being self-aware is merely our vastly more complex and proficient ability to observe and analyze ourselves and our surroundings. Processing power. A numbers game.

We “think” we’re conscious, but maybe what we really are is being excellent at consuming data, examining that data and inferring outcome from that data, that is, following sequences of events to some conclusion. I think therefore I am.

Given this theory—that what we call consciousness is merely a critical amount of processing horsepower—we can expect that once an artificial general intellect acquires the threshold of an equivalent amount of cognitive and self-referential feedback processing, that it, too, will be just as “conscious,” as us, that is, not at all.


The corollary to this thesis would be: what of the artificial entity that is twice, ten times or a thousand times more cognitively capable than us humans? Would that entity truly have attained “consciousness”? Or, is this special concept we’ve awarded ourselves really just a numbers game, no matter how great the count?

Fermi’s Paradox: Radioactivity

Premise: The collision of Theia, approximately 4.4 billion years ago, resulted in the transfer of just the right amount of radioactive elements (Uranium & Thorium, mostly) to provide for the perfectly balanced Carbon cycle we enjoy today.

Theia striking primordial Earth

Theia’s impact produced, not only the Moon (which is instrumental to Earth’s stability among other things) and not only gave Earth a much larger Iron/Nickel core (resulting in an oversized and critically necessary magnetosphere), but also transferred a Goldilocks amount of Uranium and Thorium to the Earth’s core to allow the Carbon cycle to exist.

Plate tectonics and vulcanism allow for sequestered Carbon (the sediment of billions of years of photosynthetic death and deposition) to be recycled into the atmosphere providing the perfect amount of CO2, turning Earth into the greenhouse paradise we enjoy today.

It is the core of the Earth that warms our planet and not the atmospheric  greenhouse effect - Matière et Révolution
The perfect amount of radioactivity to maintain a molten mantel.

Without just the right amount of radioactivity, Earth’s core would either cool, ending the Carbon cycle (in addition to collapsing the magnetosphere) or boil the surface causing far too much vulcanism for life to exist on the planet.

This is just one more reason to accept that Earth is unique in the Universe and that Fermi’s Paradox is not a paradox at all.

We are probabilistically alone. 2^70 alone.

Dear Mudge: Happy Anniversary

I don’t know about you, but I for one could not have predicted any of the last 12 months. Not an ounce of it. I look back at our epistolary exchange and wonder, how did we even survive, given the edge of existence we meandered along.

Wishing you twelve more wonderful months of existential crisis and questioning our place in the cosmos.

Say hi to Jesse.


[Rust is kicking my ass. I did manage to code up Conway’s Game of Death (Life for many of you). It’s wicked fast and entertaining to watch all those little virtual critters spawn, live and die. Hmm, sounds familiar.]

More pics from my artist friend

Had to share, especially the raid…

The story, as I’ve mentioned, is a continuation of my first novel. It’s called Red into the Sea, (the first was called Blue across the Sea). And yeah, in my delusional euphoria after finishing the first book I planed a whole color scheme series… Silly me.

This is Simon who holds a dying Emily. Due to her death, and the circumstances, he gets twisted with revenge and becomes “Synoc” leader of the Reno Reds.

Later, Synoc and his band of brigands raid, murder and burn the town of Cordero, their goal to steal child slaves.

And the village was saved

The pall has lifted.
The ugly shroud of Orangina has peel away.
The sword of rationality has pierced the hideous beast and left it golfing in denial.

About Damn Time!

I’m reminded of the lyrics from a Jim Stafford song, one I memorized as a teenager.
Here are the pertinent parts:
One day brought the rain and the rain stayed on
And the swamp water overflowed
Skeeters and the fever grabbed the town like a fist
(The swam overflowed indeed! Fully of criminals hired by Drumpf)

There came an unseen caller on a town where hope run dry

And the whole town took a sip
(of sanity)

Fever went away and the very next day the skies again were blue
(As well as the rest of the country. Yay, Democracy!)

Said don’t come lookin’ again.
(Oh, they will. The Rabid-Right can’t help itself.)

Yay Us! Mudge, @fifteencurmudgeon, you get to keep on livin’, aren’t you happy? Jesse, give the team a woof!