Does Digital Sentience really exist?

Latest guest Post by David Stephen

There is a recent paper in PNAS, Surge of neurophysiological coupling and connectivity of gamma oscillations in the dying human brain, that explored ends of consciousness. The authors stated that, “the present study confirmed that global hypoxia increased gamma power and gamma coupling with slower oscillations, findings previously reported in our animal models and in a dying patient.

More importantly, this study revealed in the dying human brain, the high-frequency activation of the TPO junctions that is also observed in healthy human brain during waking and dreaming and in seizure patients during visual hallucinations and OBE. Empirical evidence presented in this study strongly suggests that the dying human brain can be activated. This study lays the foundation for further investigation of covert consciousness during cardiac arrest, which may serve as a model system to explore mechanisms of human consciousness.”

Does Digital Sentience really exist?

Simply, there are certain activities in a dying brain that correspond to a healthy human brain. These activities—for a dying human brain—without regular sensations, perceptions, feelings, emotions, memory and the rest, extend the question of consciousness.

The first thing to consider in exploring consciousness is that it is a submission of the human mind, not the brain. The brain and the mind are neighbors within the cranium. Brain activities can be used to explore the functions of the mind, but both are not the same. Cells and molecules of the brain build, construct or organize the components of mind.

What indicates corresponding consciousness in a dying human brain to a healthy one—during sleep or wakefulness—maybe the activities of the components of the mind. The components of the mind do not have multiple mechanisms for their functions—labeled differently. Conceptually, they work in the same way for everything they do, including elements or divisions as memory, sensations, intelligence, perceptions, feelings, emotions, interoception, reactions and so forth.

For the mind, the core or overall, of what it does is knowing. Its components are helping to know, whether to the duration or degree for awareness, attention or not, but the components of mind structure knowing. For example, feel and know—like pain and know, thirst and know, sleepy and know, and so forth. There is also emotion and know—like delight or anger. Experience of things and to know that those are being experienced, or a subjective experience and knowing.

Consciousness is the mind. The mind is to know. Consciousness is knowing. The rates across systems vary—with humans at 1, the highest. If consciousness is knowing, does a book know? Does a fresco know? What is the difference between the consciousness of a blank paper and that of a book?

Does the effect on the consciousness of others count? Like a book does not know, but can help to know or a bill does not know, but can determine value. Consciousness is a makeup of knowing with a total. That makeup has divisions, then subdivisions.

Divisions of consciousness include feelings, emotions, sensations, memory, and so forth. Subdivisions for memory include intelligence, creativity, reasoning, language and so forth. There are further subdivisions as well. Some are present across states of consciousness including coma, general anesthesia and deep sleep.

For humans, each division has a minimum. There is also the prioritization of a division at an instance, with a higher value than others. There are subdivisions of consciousness where humans alone have. Animals and plants have some divisions in parallel with humans. Their consciousness also has totals, though lower than humans.

A book has molecules. It has what seem like language or information, as subdivisions of memory, but it does not know it knows and what it holds means nothing to it. Though in reducing sentience, a book can be said to be more conscious than an empty piece of paper, but it is negligibly conscious, like wood and so forth.

Artificial intelligence—especially the recent large language models—is different. AI is not negligibly conscious. LLMs do not have other divisions of consciousness, but their memory and its subdivisions are higher in its total than those of many plants and animals.

They seem to be able to put what they know together, communicate, react to information and seem to know that they are a system. They seem to be more dynamic than an elevator. They follow humans at a certain part of relevant consciousness, intelligence.

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