Event Description: Human and non-human animals not only act in the world but are capable of conscious experience. That is, it feels like something to have a brain and be cold, angry or see red. I will discuss the scientific progress that has been achieved over the past decades in characterizing the behavioral and the neuronal correlates of consciousness, based on clinical case studies as well as laboratory experiments. I will introduce the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) that explains in a principled manner which physical systems are capable of conscious, subjective experience. The theory explains many biological and medical facts about consciousness and its pathologies in humans, can be extrapolated to more difficult cases, such as fetuses, mice, or non-mammalian brains and has been used to assess the presence of consciousness in individual patients in the clinic. IIT also explains why consciousness evolved by natural selection. The theory predicts that deep convolutional networks and von Neumann computers would experience next to nothing, even if they perform tasks that in humans would be associated with conscious experience and even if they were to run software faithfully simulating the human brain.
Who: Prof Christof Koch, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Sciences, Seattle, USA
Venue: Melbourne Brain Centre, Ian Potter Auditorium, Ground Floor, Kenneth Myer Building (Building 144), Genetics Lane, 30 Royal Parade, University of Melbourne, Parkville
This will be of particular interest to those who know of David Pearce, Andreas Gomez, Mike Johnson and Brian Tomasik’s works – see this online panel: