Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagMichael Graziano

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Illustration of synapse and neuron on a blue background.

Will We Soon Be Able to Test Theories of Consciousness?

Proponents of two leading theories of consciousness are trying to develop tests for their models, in a hitherto baffling field

Science journalist and author Anil Ananthaswamy has written a thoughtful piece at New Scientist on the leading models of consciousness and their relationship to quantum mechanics (quantum physics). Are we reaching the point where we can test at least one of them? Ananthaswamy is well qualified to assess the arguments. He is the author of both Through Two Doors at Once (2018) on quantum physics and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2015) on the nature of the self. Models of consciousness that assume that “consciousness isn’t separate from the material reality that physics explains” (materialist or naturalist theories) fall into three general classes, as he explains. Analysts like Tufts philosopher Daniel Dennett and Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano argue that consciousness…

Connected neurons or nerve cells- 3d illustration

Why Would Philosophers Deny That Consciousness Is Real?

Because, says computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup, the materialism they are committed to makes no sense and that’s the best they can do

A Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has reflected deeply on the mind–matter problem finds himself asking, how can serious scientists or philosophers convince themselves that their own consciousness “doesn’t exist” or is a “mistaken construct”? What, exactly, is thinking the thought that their consciousness doesn’t exist? I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a straight face. For I find this denial extremely puzzling for both philosophical and psychological reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the motivation behind the denial is obvious enough: it is to tackle a vexing problem by magically wishing it out of existence. As a matter of fact, the ‘whoa-factor’ of this magic gets eliminativists and…

Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - illustration

Transhumanism—Is It a Dangerous Idea?

Some Silicon Valley greats hope to merge with machines to live forever. But what then?

The late philosopher Jerry Fodor (1935—2017) said that the reason “we’re all materialists” is that the alternatives seem even worse. Transhumanism, had he lived to see it develop, would give him pause for further reflection. 

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Businessman and his conscience

Consciousness: Three New Books, Same Dilemma, Still Fascinating

Consciousness studies are getting markedly crazier, if we go by the traditional standards of science

Rigorous naturalism, taken seriously, brought us to this place where illusion calls to illusion about things that can, by definition, have no meaning. There is no other place naturalism can bring us to.

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Humanoid Robot Call Center Question
Humanoid robot in a call center with questions in the front of the monitor. 3d illustration.

Can We Engineer Consciousness in a Robot?

One neuroscientist thinks we need only “simple guidelines.” His underlying assumptions are just wrong

Graziano's approach is not new. Ancient philosophers thought the mind was fire (not too long after the discovery of fire). Early modern philosophers thought the mind was a machine (just as the machine age got started). Now suddenly it's a computer… 

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peacock with open tail and female

Did Consciousness Evolve to Find Love?

It’s an attractive idea but it comes with a hidden price tag

If consciousness is a mere tool of human sexual selection, it is mere plumage, a pretty enticement, of no meaning or import otherwise. But then what becomes of Dr. Graziano’s own intellectual labors?

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Did Consciousness “Evolve”?

One neuroscientist doesn’t seem to understand the problems the idea raises

Darwinian evolution must select physical attributes. If consciousness evolved as a mere byproduct of physical brain processes, it is powerless in itself. Thus Graziano's theories of consciousness are themselves mindless accidents.

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Photo by Julien-Pier Belanger

Neuroscientist Michael Graziano Should Meet the P-Zombie

To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories

A p-zombie (a philosopher’s thought experiment) behaves exactly like a human being but has no first-person (subjective) experience. The meat robot violates no physical principles. Yet we KNOW we are not p-zombies. Think what that means.

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