One in a series of talks from the 2019 Models of Consciousness conference.
Institut Jean Nicod, ENS
The young field of consciousness science involves highly interdisciplinary research. For this reason, it is producing heterogeneous results which are hard to compare. This emerging discipline could benefit from a unifying, theory- neutral framework for analytical purposes. To this end, we must firstly identify a common ground between concurrent models. A brief scan through history reveals that consciousness has consistently revolved around the mind vs matter dichotomy. This binary split can be argued to span a sufficiently broad and flexible domain to semantically hold any contemporary scientific formulation of the consciousness problem, since most of them strive to provide a physical account of subjective experience. Accordingly, our reverse- engineered general frame is expected to map elements from mind-space to elements from matter-space, accepting a simple functional notation: Consciousness (INPUT) = OUTPUT. Although this equation might evoke Hilary Putnam’s functionalism, essential differences with the meta-model are emphasized by introducing its relation to Shannon’s information. Finally, alternative implementations and applications of this representation are used to illustrate and compare current accounts of consciousness.
Filmed at the Models of Consciousness conference, University of Oxford, September 2019.