Building Systems Capable of Consciousness
The search for a minimal set of neural events sufficient for a specific conscious percept is often referred to as an essential and necessary step in revealing mechanisms underlying consciousness (Crick and Koch 1998, 2003, Chalmers 2000). In this work, I utilize the idea of a top-down approach to propose a hypothetical system with intrinsic and emerging properties that are isomorphic to a particular conscious percept. I elaborate a mathematical formulation for such a system, building it using interconnected processes. Each process receives an interpretation through mutual relationships with other processes that form its complement. I hypothesize that this \completeness property' is necessary and perhaps sufficient for a system to be capable of consciousness, and I propose a strategy to test this hypothesis. In a sense, this requirement for the system on the level of processes reflects the phenomenological observation that \something is determined as opposed to an other' as elaborated on in Hegel's Science of Logic (Hegel 1969). It is also in agreement with the law of the unity and conflict of opposites formulated in dialectical materialism (Engels 1940). I postulate that, if a system is capable of producing an interpretation of one process through the others that form its complement, in a steady-state manner preserving the dynamical map of mutual relationships between processes, then such an interpretation is equivalent to the first-person data or conscious experience. The mathematical formulation presented in this work provides a foundation for building user-free systems and also delivers a novel method for analyzing biological neural systems.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2017