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Last updated:
12 Dec 1996

Tim Taylor

The Big Questions:

Why do we "experience" what is going on around (and inside) us? Is consciousness an emergent property of complex information processing systems? If so, why? If not, what is it and why do we have it? What is the connection between consciousness and intelligence? How and why have conscious organisms evolved? If we built a machine that exhibited a general level of intelligent behaviour comparable to higher animals, might it be conscious? Would it have to be?

After reading reports of the recent Tucson II conference I realised that I have pushed these and similar questions to one side (mostly because nobody seems to have any vaguely satisfactory answers) throughout most of my time studying experimental psychology and artificial intelligence.

I am glad that the topic of "consciousness" is once again becoming a respectable field of scientific research and that academics are beginning to seriously debate these issues. At present I haven't really formulated any strong views on the subject, but I'm working my way through some of the fascinating stuff that's been written recently.

Here are some links to relevant places: