Consciousness is an ambiguous concept. It can mean a lot of different things, depending on the context. For example, I can say that I am conscious of something, as in, “I am conscious of the fact that I am currently writing about consciousness.” It can also mean self-consciousness or self-awareness: the notion that you know […]Read More Measuring Consciousness in Bits
As long as the nature of consciousness will remain a mystery, we will be in the grip of anxiety. And that is because we are, all of us, haunted by that uniquely human question: what awaits us after death? Although the vast majority of Americans believe in some sort of afterlife, such beliefs are starkly at odds […]Read More There Is No Ghost In The Brain
Below is the text of my newest article for the Berkeley Science Review: The brain does many things. It makes decisions, it remembers facts, it moves our muscles, it can do math, and it can communicate with other brains. Each of these abilities are active subjects of neuroscience research. But the brain does something else, which […]Read More Consciousness Is A Scientific Problem
I recently had a brief back-and-forth with Bobby Azarian about his new article on Raw Story. Azarian, a neuroscientist at George Mason University, argued that artificial intelligence (AI) could never be conscious. I highly recommend reading Azarian’s article: it’s a great distillation of some key concepts in the philosophy of mind, and he makes an […]Read More Why Machines Could Be – But Aren’t – Conscious
The threads that weave the cloth of our mentality are soulless. Our experience of the most beautiful sunset, our most fervent desires, our loftiest thoughts, and our most expansive feelings of love are storms of neural activity, nothing more. Science – and neuroscience in particular – has stripped our mental lives of a soul. But […]Read More Love In A World Of Atoms
Scientists don’t yet know how life emerged on Earth. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection explains how life evolved once it emerged, but it does not explain how life emerged in the first place. But science presses on. One of the main challenges in figuring out how life emerged from chemistry is defining what life is. […]Read More Information and the Emergence of Life
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Mark Baxter, Ph.D. about the status of neuroscience as a field. Mark is a neuroscientist who studies the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. This is my second conversation with Mark. Several months ago, we discussed a controversial paper on the effects of marijuana consumption on the […]Read More Is Neuroscience a Mature Science?
Post-humanists envision a future in which human minds can be “uploaded” – uploaded to virtual environments, uploaded to new biological bodies, or uploaded to totally robotic bodies. Every sign in the rapid advance of neuroscience suggests that we should begin taking this idea seriously. Reflecting on the prospect of mind uploading, Princeton neuroscience professor Michael Graziano […]Read More Mind Uploading and Personal Identity