1 min readThe Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

Scientists now accept that the neocortex is not the seat of consciousness. Will this new acceptance lead us to a new understanding of the nature of the human being? Or will this lead to greater materialism in our sciences? The clue lies in the worldview the audience subscribes to.

In July 2012, a group of prominent cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness which highlighted the need to reassess our understanding of consciousness. According to the Declaration, evidence shows that animals exhibit the capacity for intentional behaviors and affective states, despite the lack of a neocortex, which was previously believed to be the seat of consciousness.

Implications for AI

This Declaration can go both ways, depending on who its audience is. For those who adhere to a materialist point of view, it only serves to strengthen the position that there is nothing unique about being human. 

On the other hand, in the eyes of those who subscribe to a post-materialist mindset, it is a conclusive evidence that there is a field of consciousness that permeates all living beings. It offers us hope for change, but must not be taken at face value. In order for this Declaration to bring about a new appreciation for consciousness, it has to look at the data from other sciences, ans incorporate the patterns uncovered by knowledge systems other than science. Only then will be able to complete the narrative. 

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