Self Awareness: The Last Frontier

Posted 31 Dec 2008 at 17:15 UTC by steve Share This

The EDGE has published an essay by Vilayanur Ramachandran, titled Self Awareness: The Last Frontier, on one of the biggest and most interesting problems in science today: consciousness. He starts with the premise that most researchers today break consciousness down into two problems: qualia and self. Qualia, he suggests may turn out to be a psuedo problem that can never be solved. Perhaps the reason some research think it's a problem is that they're just looking at the facts from the wrong perspective; like an ant trying to understand a Moebius strip. Self, meanwhile, is a problem we may not only solve but solve within our lifetimes. In the rest of the article he summarize a wealth of different aspects of the self that scientists now understand in concrete terms of brain circuitry rather than just vague psychological or philosophical ideas. He covers things ranging from out of body experiences and transexuality to mirror neurons and emotion. Thinking about all the things we've learned about the brain in recent years seems like a great way to bring in the new year. Let's put all this new knowledge to work building better robot brains.

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