Exploring the mysteries of the human brain brings us to the second topic. I could have named this section ‘Artificial Intelligence’, but that term has acquired a slightly different meaning over the years.
What is conscious and what is not? Is a robot conscious? What about a worm or a cat? What about the baby born last month? My only point here is, we can never really understand the world around us until we have understood our own minds. Eventually, it is our brains which interfaces with reality and tells us everything we know about it.
A theory of everything which misses out on a theory of consciousness is clearly incomplete. We should not be interested in the different complex structures in the brain and how they account for consciousness. I am talking about a different paradigm here.
A different approach, where you do not study how the brain works in the outside physical world. Instead, you account for how the brain experiences, or in effect, creates the outside physical world through sensory observation.
Why? Because that is what truly happens. While it may not be intuitive reasoning at first, think of it this way – Does the world behind you exist while you’re not looking at it? Is there any way to find out? To fetch answers to questions which cannot be tested by experiment is beyond the scope of science. But who said science was the ultimate tool to acquire knowledge anyways?
There are quite a few problems with understanding consciousness. Does our mind work on algorithms? What about free will, where does that fit it? Now there is a line of reasoning which goes on to show how consciousness cannot arise purely based on algorithms, as we know of them. What about intuition? If you think of it, it is amazing how the human brain, even with all its complexity, can have intuition – a leap of reason, faith or knowledge which is apparently not a result of any algorithms as such.
I believe that the real test of a theory of consciousness is to create artificial consciousness. I am not sure whether a simple Turing test would suffice for this, but it does seems inadequate. So is our mind simply an extremely complex computer running a complex bit of software?