Consciousness is like Infinity
While browsing through the pages of The Society of Mind, I read the following under section 1.2:
It was never supposed [the poet Imlac said] that cogitation is inherent in matter, or that every particle is a thinking being…
The first thought that came to me was “Infinity”. I could see that this idea is how infinity behaves. I’ll layout some of the ideas that made me think this.
Infinity is a strange thing. Let’s take an example.
A quark can be considered of negligible weight. Most of the atom is made up of empty space. If all we had to consider were these two things, we would think that the weight of the universe would be negligible. However, that is not the case of course. When we look at the object without considering all the empty space inside, we find it has weight, mass.
Ramanujan came up with another very interesting observation:
1+2+3+… = -1/12
So, infinity behaves in strange ways. How can the sum of all positive numbers be less than 0! The point I would like to focus on is that even when the matter is primarily composed of empty space, when we consider it has infinitely many molecules in it, it starts having a form.
Relation with consciousness
We have to agree that individual quark, electron or atom is not conscious on its own (or may be they are, after all, they behave differently when observed). However, when these particles get together, infinitely many of them so to speak, in the form of the brain, they seem to possess consciousness. This consciousness is not seen in all forms - just like the strange behavior seen by Ramanujan. We do not know if the consciousness of humans is similar to that of bacteria. There are concepts of degree of consciousness - I haven’t looked at them.
You might also be familiar with the phrase “I am therefore I think”. This suggests an infinite loop - I think therefore I am, I am therefore I think - and so on. In brain, there seem to be an infinite loop that makes us think “I am”. I haven’t fully read it, but I got similar impressions from the initial few chapters of Gödel, Escher, Bach. Whenever we look at consciousness, we see infinity joining us.
This is pure philosophy may be, and I am not good at it. Therefore, I will not attempt to elaborate on this subject and let my friends with proper skills of analysis do it.
It would be ideal to see scientific evidences supporting this (or any other result). May be - just a random thought - our sincere work on Artificial Intelligence will lead us to the answers. Not the work that goes on this way: “See, my model learns with high accuracy, therefore, we sell it to companies”, focus on “sincere”.