Human self-awareness. What has been discovered by science?

In the cognitive sciences, it is "a shared and empirically supported belief that humans are the only

creatures to have developed, in addition to primary consciousness" (which they share with other

animal species), “a more developed form of the same, a higher-order consciousness, that is, the

consciousness   of   being   conscious". This would be formed, "thanks   to  the  neural   connections

produced by  organised   language  and the  linguistic   symbols  developed in social interactions"

(Gerald Edelman).  Consciousness  thus arose as an  epiphenomenon  of  language, a  distinctive

feature of the human species.

Questioning human self-awareness means exploring physiological, perceptual and, at the same

time, immaterial, spiritual meanders. In this journey of knowledge, we use not only of the concepts

and skills acquired in the course of the reflections  that unite human beings in so many different

cultures, but also of the research techniques developed in scientific fields such as psychiatry and

neuroradiology, with sophisticated research  instruments that allow increasingly precise functional

magnetic resonance imaging of the brain.

Moreover, to delve into the mystery of human self-awareness is to explore the most sensitive point

of contact in the relationship between man and machine.

Recent developments in conversational AI have quickly brought the debate back to the centrality

of language in the creation and use of knowledge and its links to consciousness. The question will

soon be whether, as part of the paradigm of  machine   simulation of human   thought (cognitive

computing), it is precisely the development of artificial language models that might in the future

give rise to a  sentient   AI  (artificial sentience) with  consciousness  and  self-awareness  (artificial

consciousness - AC). The emergence of such a scenario would not only lead to a “strong AI”, but

also to the potential realisation of artificial life (Artificial Life, Alife, A-Life).

Meeting moderated by David Orban.

An event to follow in live streaming & VR mode with the SingularityU Milan web application

May 24, 2023
6:00pm - 8:00pm
hosted by
Singularity Milan Chapter
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