“Difference between Machine Consciousness and Human Consciousness” by Nithin Nagaraj


Having defined consciousness as the ‘reality that perceives’, human consciousness can be defined as the reality that perceives through a particular filter. In this case, the particular filter is a human body/mind. Actually, the filter itself is experienced by consciousness. For example, in my dream, I may experience through the filter of a butterfly body/mind in which case my human consciousness is replaced by butterfly consciousness for the duration of that particular dream. Thus, human consciousness is not something that we can identify with as our true nature. We can only identify with Pure Consciousness (without any filter) as our true nature since that alone is continuous in our experience (that which persists in all states of experience).

Machine consciousness would thus be the reality that perceives through the filter of a machine (if this is possible). Actually, if one agrees that the human body and mind is also like a machine (a very sophisticated one), then there is no fundamental difference between human consciousness and machine consciousness in the way I have treated here. However, it is not clear whether reality can perceive through the filter of a machine. This is something that we are not yet sure. At the same time, we can’t rule out this possibility.

Is “Consciousness” a solvable scientific puzzle?
It depends on what we mean by ‘solvable’ and ‘scientific’ as well as ‘consciousness’. All the three terms are undergoing a refinement in human understanding. If science can accommodate subjective experiences in its methodology in a coherent manner (which I believe is not the case currently), then science will have a much better chance at understanding consciousness. Also, by solvable if we mean ‘measurable’, then there are challenges – which are philosophical, methodological and technological (as well as clinical). The question is whether consciousness is measurable or is it that only a correlate or proxy of consciousness can be measured? Last but not the least, if consciousness is fundamental like mass, length, time, spin, charge, then science would have to expand its ontology to include it. There are attempts at building a non-reductive
scientific theory of consciousness by expanding the ontology (Chalmers proposed
one such candidate in his ‘Hard problem of Consciousness’ paper). The future holds exciting challenges ahead because of the relentless evolution of science.