Theory of Consciousness

La Voz de Galicia – March 15, 2024 →

Cristina PatoI attended a conference by the neuroscientist Christof Koch, where he discussed the theory of consciousness from the perspective of neuroscience. While listening, I thought about how complex it is to understand what consciousness is and where in our brains it resides. According to Koch, consciousness is «the lived reality,» it is «the feeling of life itself.» In his work, he talks about how «the subjective mind arises out of the flickering interactions within the neurons of the cerebral cortex and related structures,» and precisely his work focuses on understanding how that part of the brain «gives rise to any conscious experience; to the feeling of love, melancholy, pain, or pleasure.»

For years, I passionately read the theories of the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. His way of bringing us closer to our emotions turned me into some sort of aficionada of the world of neuroscience, and thanks to his books, and my attempt to understand how my mother’s dementia affected her consciousness and her way of feeling emotions, I gradually tried to acquire a basic language to try to understand (humbly and with many limitations) the neuroscientists I’ve encountered in recent years, especially my colleague at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Kenneth S. Kosik.

And precisely thanks to Kosik, I try to understand what it means for someone to discover the neural basis of consciousness, or for artificial intelligence to «learn» the language of consciousness. Our way of perceiving «lived reality» is quite complex, but what is even more complex for me, or what produces more vertigo in me, is Koch’s theory that the internet could someday develop consciousness…

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