Consciousness is Bound to be Simpler Than We Think

The library of human algorithms from Westworld.

Scientific Progress is About Simplification

When understanding a new scientific field, we have no choice but to create lots of theories, perhaps contradictory ones, about anything we can measure, because it’s not clear what’s pertinent and what not. It’s only as we learn more that theories start to collapse and simplify.

Consciousness Catching Up

With consciousness I’d say we are somewhere between medieval peasants and gentlemen scholars playing with science projects. We are starting to put together theories within some bounded areas that, while not complete or satisfying to the larger scientific or lay community, are quite compelling.

Looking Ahead

I do think, however, the future of consciousness understanding is bright. I’ve seen multiple talks recently by aging academics (Solms and Jon Searle) who talked about starting their careers and being kindly pushed away from consciousness as a serious line of inquiry. “Look, in my discipline, it’s OK to be interested in consciousness,” said Searle quoting someone senior to him when he started, “but get tenure first!” This is changing. It’s certainly now possible, as Searle concedes, to get tenured while working on consciousness, and as a result we are seeing many new theories come out.

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David Kelly Randall

Writing about consciousness. Former designer/PM. Former Mormon. Master’s in Human Computer Interaction, Carnegie Mellon.