1 min readThe quest for consciousness

The Templeton World Charity Foundation has decided to resolve the problem of consciousness. Which theory will win: the GWT or the IIT?

In recognition of the growing role of consciousness to evolution and the creation of the universe, the Templeton World Charity Foundation has decided to fund a $20 million project that will finally put competing ideas to a test: the global workspace theory (GWT) which says that the brain’s prefrontal cortex acts like a computer which control’s higher order cognitive processes, and the integrated information theory (IIT) which maintains that consciousness is an emergent property of brain networks. 

As of publication, no new updates have been made regarding this contest, but Stanislas Dehaene (proponent of the GWT) and Giulio Tononi (proponent of the IIT) have already set the parameters for the experiments and as well as registered their predictions. 

Implications for AI

The contest between the IIT and the GWT is important for various reasons. First, it puts consciousness as a real determinant of scientific phenomena – it is no longer just a topic for philosophical discussions. Second, the recognition of IIT as a valid scientific theory shows us that there is some change in the scientific community, where the human body is seen as an integrated whole. Third, the contest also shows us a new culture for science, where the goal is to discover truths, and let go of falsehoods. 

The contest offers to us hope, that perhaps in the future, our scientists would realize that the true joy of doing science is really in the discovery.

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