Q: What is reality in the absence of consciousness? (Someone responded: ‘I’m beginning to be convinced that in the absence of consciousness, there is nothing. Can anyone shed some light on this?“
A (Martin): That is an impossible, or a self-defeating, question. If there were no consciousness in the world, you could not write that sentence. What is more, no communication would be possible (books, newspapers, radio, etc.). Still more, no life and no evolution of life, because life depends on the communication of information (DNA, neuronal synapses, etc.), which itself derives from what is no less than a conscious universe. There is no need to believe in a personal (anthropomorphic) god to have this understanding or realization.
It is the same if we say, ‘absence of intelligence’. It is consciousness/intelligence which originates the universe and inheres in it. In Dante’s words, “l’Amore che muove il sole e l’altre stelle” (the Love which moves the sun and the other stars) – and that is so because without love there is no life, Love being a synonym of Being and of Light. The supreme triad is Being-Consciousness-Will, or Being-Consciousness-Bliss (or Beauty). — And Beauty and Love are the same.
A not-too-serious look at the state of AI vis-à-vis Advaita prompted by Martin’s post
It is perfectly understandable that we humans should think that only we have the necessary evolutionary complexity to be able to exhibit self-awareness. But scientists (presumably not human…) seem to think otherwise.
Traditionally, the test for self-awareness has been the ability to realize that it is our own body that we see in a mirror – the MSR, Mirror Self-recognition test. The scientist puts the animal-under-test to sleep and then makes a very visible mark on its face. When it wakes up, it is given a mirror to see if it realizes it is seeing a reflection and tries to remove the mark from its own face, or whether it tries to kill the intruder. According to Wikipedia, other species that have passed this test include “the great apes, a single Asiatic elephant, rays, dolphins, orcas, the Eurasian magpie, and the cleaner wrasse”.
Modern science still argues that consciousness arises as a result of interoperation of various parts of the brain (under the banner of the ‘neural correlates of consciousness’ or NCC), when it reaches a certain level of complexity. Ramesam will know lots more about this.
We are in the midst of a technological civilization or culture the consequences of which at long range are unpredictable; a future where technological growth could become uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization. This conditioning would bring about an ‘explosion’ in intelligence resulting in a powerful superintelligence that qualitatively far surpasses all human intelligence. This change or event has been called a ‘technological singularity’, as a result of which, it is stipulated, the human race could not continue.
What follows is an exchage on the ‘Quora’ forum from Oct. 2015 – anticipating today’s current concerns by over 7 years. The question asked was: “Could the technological singularity occur without computers ever becoming conscious?” And the following are comments by David Eager (Zen seeker, metaphysical tweaker) and myself.