What we need to do is to take conscious experience itself as primitive, as a fundamental element of the world. It’s the same attitude we take towards space and time and mass in physics: we don’t reduce them to something more fundamental, but then we come up with fundamental laws that govern them and that can explain them.

from Hard Problem of Consciousness (2016)

Portrait of David Chalmers

David Chalmers

Cognitive Scientist
Born: April 20, 1966

David John Chalmers is an Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist specializing in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. He is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University. He is also a University Professor, Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science, and a Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness (along with Ned Block) at New York University. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

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Could a Large Language Model be Conscious?

Within the next decade, we may well have systems that are serious candidates for consciousness. An edited version of a talk given at the conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), with some minor additions and subtractions.

Hard Problem of Consciousness

Philosopher David Chalmers on the combination problem, dualism, and panpsychism.

The Extended Mind

Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the boundaries of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words ‘just ain’t in the head,’ and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. Clark and Chalmers propose the pursuit of a third position: active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.

What is Extended Mind?

Chalmers makes a compelling argument that our definition of “mind” is too constricted. Objects in our environment augment and take over certain functions for our brains, extending our cognitive processes out into the physical world beyond our bodies.

What is it Like to be a Thermostat?

Commentary on Dan Lloyd, “What is it Like to Be a Net?”

Could a simple thermostat possess consciousness? Philosopher David Chalmers believes it’s possible. He compares connectionist networks to mundane thermostats, finding uncanny similarities in how they process information. This suggests thermostats could model basic conscious experience, if we accept certain criteria. Chalmers argues complexity alone cannot explain awareness. Though advanced artificial networks mimic consciousness, some essence eludes. He concludes we must look beyond connectionist models, seeking deeper laws not yet conceived, as we continue our quest to unveil the very essence of consciousness.

Mentioned in 7 documents

Swami Sarvapriyananda

Does Matter Create Consciousness?

Many Eastern views of reality posit that it is consciousness that lies at the foundation of existence, not the material world.

Francis Heylighen and Shima Beigi

Mind Outside Brain

We approach the problem of the extended mind from a radically non-dualist perspective. The separation between mind and matter is an artefact of the outdated mechanistic worldview, which leaves no room for mental phenomena such as agency, intentionality, or feeling. We propose to replace it by an action ontology, which conceives mind and matter as aspects of the same network of processes. By adopting the intentional stance, we interpret the catalysts of elementary reactions as agents exhibiting desires, intentions, and sensations. Autopoietic networks of reactions constitute more complex super-agents, which moreover exhibit memory, deliberation and sense-making. In the specific case of social networks, individual agents coordinate their actions via the propagation of challenges. The distributed cognition that emerges from this interaction cannot be situated in any individual brain. This non-dualist, holistic view extends and operationalises process metaphysics and Eastern philosophies. It is supported by both mindfulness experiences and mathematical models of action, self-organisation, and cognition.

Donald Dulchinos

Neurosphere

According to Donald Dulchinos, the real action on the Internet isn’t in the realm of commerce. It is, plain and simple, in the realm of religion. But not exactly that old-time religion. This book is about the spiritual impact of our increasing ability to communicate quickly and with enhanced evolution. It's about our search for meaning, our hunger for a glimpse at humanity's future development in whichâ€"frighteningly or excitingly,"the trend is clearly toward increasing integration of telecommunications and information technology with the body itself. Electronic prosthetics, direct neural implants, and the brain's control of electronic and mechanical limbs move the boundary that used to exist between human and machine to some undefined frontier inside our bodies, our brains, and, perhaps, our minds.

Shima Beigi and Francis Heylighen

Noospheric consciousness

The world-wide web has been conceptualized as a global brain for humanity due to its neural network-like organization. To determine whether this global brain could exhibit features associated with consciousness, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: information integration, adaptive resonance and global workspace. These theories propose that conscious states are characterized by a globally circulating, resonant pattern of activity that is sufficiently coherent to be examined and reflected upon. We then propose a correspondence between this notion and Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere as a forum for collective thinking, and explore some implications of this self-organizing dynamics for the evolution of shared, global understanding.

Andrew Clark and David Chalmers

The Extended Mind

Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the boundaries of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words ‘just ain't in the head,’ and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. Clark and Chalmers propose the pursuit of a third position: active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.

Christof Koch

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

The science of consciousness has made great strides by focusing on the behavioral and neuronal correlates of experience. However, such correlates are not enough if we are to understand even basic facts. Moreover, correlates are of little help in many instances where we would like to know if consciousness is present: patients with a few remaining islands of functioning cortex, pre-term infants, non-mammalian species, and machines that are rapidly outperforming people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions. To address these issues, we need a theory of consciousness–one that says what experience is and what type of physical systems can have it.

Timo Järvilehto

The Theory of the Organism-Environment System

In any functional sense, organism and environment are inseparable and form only one unitary system. The organism cannot exist without the environment, and the environment has descriptive properties only if it is connected to the organism. Separation of organism and environment cannot be the basis of any scientific explanation of human behavior. The theory leads to a reinterpretation of basic problems in many fields of inquiry and makes possible the definition of mental phenomena without their reduction either to neural or biological activity or to separate mental functions. According to the theory, mental activity is activity of the whole organism-environment system, and the traditional psychological concepts describe only different aspects of organization of this system.