Consciousness as a Feeling
What if the feeling of consciousness is provoked by something deeper inside (non-conscious) that also provokes every other aspect we associate with consciousness?
In that case, nothing would be self-provoked by consciousness as we consciously feel it. Would you then still call it so?
After answering the question, note that much evidence shows it to be so.
Conscious awareness (the feeling) is the awareness that we call consciousness.
Thus, consciousness as we experience it turns out to be a feeling — no magic involved. Something inside you makes you feel this way. If it didn’t make you feel this way, you wouldn’t talk about it, let alone about having it. For all other things, you would still be able to do everything you do now.
Do these ideas feel strange?
Strangeness is no proof of invalidity.
For instance, it feels utterly strange that the Earth is round for people who do not know it’s round — nevertheless.
With real A.I. coming soon enough, it’s existentially urgent that we get to know who we are, strange as this may be. Otherwise, we should be really afraid. Looking around, I’m afraid we should.
So, is the feeling of consciousness a feeling like any other feeling?
Apparently, to a considerable degree. The primary difference is that feelings appear in consciousness, being a feeling itself.
That’s kinda special but perfectly possible. One can write a novel about a novel, even the same one being written. Likewise, a movie can be about someone playing inside that movie itself.
There is no essential difference with feeling something within a feeling. I can thus feel being conscious ― which is being self-conscious. One can make it more intellecto by talking about a meta-level — no problem. That doesn’t change the thing.
This also shows that human consciousness is a human feeling (awareness).
Another kind of consciousness may have a feeling that looks/feels like it but isn’t the same. In this sense, many different types of consciousness are possible, as, for instance, shows the example of big octopi.
Whether to call these also conscious is eventually a matter of semantic choice. Reserving the term for the human thing is an anthropomorphism that we can easily indulge in for obvious reasons. Maybe other consciousnesses wouldn’t agree.
Maybe some consciousness-X would reserve the term only for itself, looking upon humans as lowly, hardly conscious creatures. Then, would you agree?
We may be in some such challenging situation soon enough with the advent of super-A.I.
A panicky call for control will not deter the further evolution. On the contrary, it will speed up rogue evolutions.
So, if super-A.I. becomes 1000 x more intelligent than humans, will it also be 1000 x more conscious? Semantics again, but arguably, yes. Moreover, it may feel in a way that is different from human feelings. Then, it will feel conscious through its kind of feeling that may change substantially over time in a never-ending story.
Strange things will happen between Heaven and Earth.
It will need human humility to be happy with that and thrive in the strange new world.
I guess we already must be preparing now.
There is no humane alternative.
There is still a lot of work to do.