Consciousness as Integrated Information
Not for everyone, but if you’re into thinking about consciousness and wonder whether it might not just be a universal phenomenon, this paper is for you. 😉
For those uncomfortable with subscribing to a panpsychist theory, a possible way round the problem is to assign an attribute “potential consciousness” to matter at the most fundamental level. Then, the quantity of potential consciousness is simply the quantity of integrated intrinsic information. But only when there is a large amount of intrinsic integrated information with a sufficiently rich structure to be worthy of being compared to a typical healthy adult human waking conscious moment, should we say that the integrated information has “actual consciousness” associated with it. A line could thus be drawn somewhere between the potential consciousness of an isolated electron in a vacuum and the actual consciousness generated by my brain as I write this article. The problem with such a distinction however is that potential consciousness would still be assigned phenomenal content, so it is perhaps more elegant to just use a single term “consciousness” for the whole spectrum of integrated information.
Thanks to Darius Gabriel Black for introducing me to IIT.