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Dominic John Repici
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Phenomenal Consciousness

Also (sometimes) Phenomenological Consciousness — A label for that thing which we all possess, but that we are not really able to describe objectively. While there are many different senses of the word consciousness, the term Phenomenal Consciousness is the qualifier to use when discussing the phenomenological ("hard problem") aspect, or sense, of consciousness.

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“Hard Problem” Consciousness

Semantically, as described by Chalmers in his paper, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness," it is helpful to understand that there are many connotations, or types, of consciousness, but only one that is of any importance when discussing consciousness directly. The one we are concerned about in direct discussions of consciousness itself, is phenomenological (a.k.a. "hard problem") consciousness. This is the one to which we all have a front row seat, but have been unable to describe in an objective (read: machine-implementable) way.

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“Easy Problem” Consciousness

There are other types of consciousness as well. For example, when you check to see if somebody is conscious, by seeing if they are awake, or asking them if they know their own name. These are what Chalmers refers to as the "easy problem" forms of consciousness. They are well understood, and easily implementable in machines. They are not what we mean when we talk about gaining a better understanding of consciousness.

When talking about consciousness, we often get tripped up, and at cross purposes, simply because it is so easy to slip into the "easy" definitions. Chalmers lists some examples of these:
  • the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli;
  • the integration of information by a cognitive system;
  • the reportability of mental states;
  • the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
  • the focus of attention;
  • the deliberate control of behavior;
  • the difference between wakefulness and sleep.

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Usage In The Term Machine Consciousness:

When people speak of Machine Consciousness, they are generally talking about the ongoing quest to produce a conscious (i.e., non-biological) machine. In this case, they are specifically talking about the hard problem connotation of the word consciousness, as in Phenomenal Consciousness.

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Also: Learning     Memory     Multitemporal Synapse


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