Decapitating Consciousness
Robert Epstein

As a science educator with a life-long fascination with “mathematics”, I find the assembly of mathematical models and scientific theories from non-observable phenomena a counter to the argument that “consciousness” is as simple as “observation.” Our ability to pose “questions” and seek “answers” goes beyond any mere action/reaction sequence. We fantasize often fantastic possibilities as descriptions for phenomena that our senses alone are unable to verify. The subsequent models and theories thus generated become memories that have no foundation in the real world. The same can be said for dreams. I carry with me several dozen very vivid and yet incomprehensible memories of dreams I have had, to which I can attach no real-world incidents or phenomena. In the end, I believe we must concede that the true nature of “consciousness” as yet (and perhaps always will) avoids us. I do not believe that at present their is any proof that we can achieve a thing called “artificial intelligence”. I think all the certitude surrounding “consciousness” and “artificial intelligence” is merely the work of a “magic animal”, to quote Philip Wiley. Our instinctual territorial imperative drives us to try to “own” that which our consciousness cannot understand, and to which we as yet have no claim.

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