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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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(p.361) Chapter 37 Consciousness
Living machines

Anil K. Seth

Oxford University Press

Consciousness is perhaps the most familiar aspect of our existence, yet we still do not know its biological basis. This chapter outlines a biomimetic approach to consciousness science, identifying three principles linking properties of conscious experience to potential biological mechanisms. First, conscious experiences generate large quantities of information in virtue of being simultaneously integrated and differentiated. Second, the brain continuously generates predictions about the world and self, which account for the specific content of conscious scenes. Third, the conscious self depends on active inference of self-related signals at multiple levels. Research following these principles helps move from establishing correlations between brain responses and consciousness towards explanations which account for phenomenological properties—addressing what can be called the “real problem” of consciousness. The picture that emerges is one in which consciousness, mind, and life, are tightly bound together—with implications for any possible future “conscious machines.”

Keywords:   consciousness, awareness, selfhood, integrated information, dynamical complexity, predictive coding, interoceptive inference, conscious machines

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