Can consciousness be observed?

As far as I know, we have been dissecting human bodies for thousands of years…we’ve got a name for every biological system in our bodies, every cell, every organ, every piece of tissue. We’ve dissected peoples brains and every single time we never find anybody home?

So who is it that is doing the observing? Who is behind your eyes looking out to the world, to the screen infront of you, down to the keyboard? Who is at the controls?

Can consciousness be observed?

This is like asking ‘Can we see the program running?’ while looking at a computer’s processor. If you turn the machine off first you ain’t gonna see anything.

Studies done mapping the electrical activity in the brain has shown which areas are involved in different events. According to all the evidence we have, this is consciousness.

We’ve been dissecting conscious humans for thousands of years? :eek: :wink:
I think hotflungwok said it pretty well. Try to think what consciousness would be like at one frozen moment in time. I think Searle’s point of view that consciousness is a biological process like digestion is a biological process will eventually lead to our understanding it.

So the processing of information is consciousness?

Not quite, we can see a program running in a computer processor. There are tools to test this. While we have no indication of any program running in the brain, nor do we have any physical memory, thoughts, emotions, or any trait of consciousness that can be seen in the brain. There is no physical evidence of consciousness being in the brain. But if I am wrong I would like to see some evidence of it. Now as for brain mapping. I have a link on that from a UCLA study that shows brain mapping is not reliable. Then, of course, there is the fact that functions of the body can be transfered to another part of the brain if the original part is damaged. The question is who transfers the function?

Your link is about the launching of a study, and thus shows nothing of what you claim.

I doubt it, since that was whipped up mainly to bash AI, IIRC. Following that point of view would require us to ignore the information processing aspects of the brain, which means we wouldn’t learn much.

As for seeing consciousness, I expect we can; it’s just that we can’t identify what the brain is actually doing most of the time, so we don’t realize what we are seeing. And the resolution isn’t very good; I expect the textbooks of the future will show old ( modern ) blobby images of brain functions, with captions like “Image taken in 2007 by Dr Henry Smith of the third consciousness network node, although this was not identified as such until 2028”.

We can on occasion detect this or that conscious function of the brain, like simple shapes like circles being imagined by the subject.

Searle is often misunderstood on AI. His claim is that Turing machines aren’t a path leading to consciousness. He doesn’t deny that we will one day create a conscious device.

A part of it.

…and the reason for the study was because brain mapping is not reliable which was my point.

Right, and the other processes of consciousness are perception? What’s perception?

We’ve been through this already, lekatt. You can see a limited number of electrical signals in a running processor, but you can’t see all of them. In the brain, you can see a limited number of signals, but you can’t see all of them.

My job and that of the people I work with would be about 100 x easier if we could really see a program running. And you couldn’t do it 30 years ago either.

hotflungwok is right on the money.

Um, conciousness is more than just information processing and information input. There’s memory storage (long and short term) and output (voluntary and involuntary) just off the top of my head.

Well, if there’s a little man inside your head peering out through your eyeballs and jerking the controls to move your hands, what’s inside HIS head?

Sounds like you made some really good Zen koans there. Now go away from your keyboard and deeply contemplate these questions, and you shall have your answer.

Actually, I was rewatching What the Bleep do we know and taking on some of the themes in it for a new writing exercise I have been dabbling in.

Right, and this is what I am getting into: I’m trying to get past the organic, and into the metaphysical. Because people who look at the ‘energy’ behind their thoughts, the actual electricity firing in their synapse need to come up with a better model for how those translate into reality and the perception of thought.

A smaller man doing the same and in his head another man and so on and so on until it’s you jerking the controls

You do realize that every speck of conscious thought you do is performed at a higher-level, virtual sort of world, right? So when somebody visualizes themselves pushing energy around, any actual effect of this is several steps removed from the thought? Like when you visualize your arm moving, actually a number of disparate signals are sent to your arm, moving different muscles in tandem to produce the desired effect, without you having to think about the different muscles at all.

When I play a computer game on a computer, and am virtually interacting with virtual characters, I would not expect be able to crack open the computer case and find little people wandering around in there. The same applies to dreams and memories and ‘metaphysical’ energy movement and the like.

Bold/underline mine. It’s the ‘who is the YOU’ I’m getting at. It’s hard to believe it’s just a series of electrical signals responding to a set of stimuli.

I understand that, I’m not asking for the actual observance of an electric stimuli or thought…I’m asking about what makes up the common sense of you?