On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 09:36:22AM -0700, meekerdb wrote:
> But a course of action could be 'selected', i.e. acted upon, without
> consciousness (in fact I often do so).  I think what constitutes
> consciousness is making up a narrative about what is 'selected'.

Absolutely!

> The evolutionary reason for making up this narrative is to enter it
> into memory so it can be explained to others and to yourself when
> you face a similar choice in the future.  

Maybe - I don't remember Dennett ever making that point. More
importantly, its hard to see what the necessity of the narrative is
for forming memories. Quite primitive organisms form memories, yet I'm
sceptical they have any form of internal narrative.

> That the memory of these
> past decisions took the form of a narrative derives from the fact
> that we are a social species, as explained by Julian Jaynes.  This
> explains why the narrative is sometimes false, and when the part of
> the brain creating the narrative doesn't have access to the part
> deciding, as in some split brain experiments, the narrative is just
> confabulated.  I find Dennett's modular brain idea very plausible
> and it's consistent with the idea that consciousness is the function
> of a module that produces a narrative for memory.  If were designing
> a robot which I intended to be conscious, that's how I would design
> it: With a module whose function was to produce a narrative of
> choices and their supporting reasons for a memory that would be
> accessed in support of future decisions.  This then requires a
> certain coherence and consistency in robots decisions - what we call
> 'character' in a person.  I don't think that would make the robot
> necessarily conscious according to Bruno's critereon.  But if it had
> to function as a social being, it would need a concept of 'self' and
> the ability for self-reflective reasoning.  Then it would be
> conscious according to Bruno.
> 
> Brent

IIRC, Dennett talks about feedback connecting isolated modules (as in
talking to oneself) as being the progenitor of self-awareness (and
perhaps even consciousness itself). Since this requires language, it
would imply evolutionary late consciousness.

I do think that self-awareness is a trick that enables efficient
modelling of other members of the same species. Its the ability to put
yourself in the other's shoes, and predict what they're about to do.

I'm in two minds about whether one can be conscious without also being
self-aware. 

-- 

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Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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