X-Message-Number: 11045
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: About self-awareness, consciousness, etc
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 22:48:14 +1100 (EST)

Hi everyone!

For those interested in consciousness, self, identity, and closely related
concepts: you might be interested in reading an article in the 4 December
issue of SCIENCE (282(1998) 1846-1851) which discusses just what brain
areas may be involved, either temporarily (depending on just what we are
conscious of) or continually. The article is by Gerald W Edelman and 
Giulio Tononi (who may be the main author).

Basically they looked at those brain areas active when we are consciously
aware of something, versus the others which aren't. (A little thought will
tell you that this is more complex than it sounds).

I intend to discuss this article in an upcoming PERIASTRON, and readers
of PERIASTRON will know that it's far from the only article on this 
subject, but SCIENCE is very accessible, unlike some of the other
neuroscience periodicals.

And besides, it may give some experimental substance to the various
notions presently circulating on Cryonet. Awareness is not something that
we just talk about, there are now things we can to do see just what
happens with it in our brains.

The authors, among other things, conclude from their work that it should
be possible to make a machine self-aware --- if we really want to do that.
(I'm not so sure what we'd gain by doing so, but that's a separate issue.
And understanding how our brain produces consciousness == self-awareness
is likely to give us that ability, whether or not these particular authors
have identified those structures involved in consciousness.

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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