TagLast edit: 20 Nov 2021 17:48 UTC by Yoav Ravid

The word “consciousness” is used in a variety of different ways, and there are large disagreements about the reality and nature (and even coherence) of some of the things people profess to mean by “consciousness.”

Colloquially, the word “conscious” is used to pick out a few different things:

Reasonably mainstream academic overviews of “consciousness” can be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences.

This tag is tentatively and provisionally about the “having experiences” meaning(s) of “consciousness.” For wakefulness and dreaming, see sleep. For knowledge, perception, and attention, see attention and cognitive science. And for reflective awareness and self-awareness, see identity, personal identity, and reflective reasoning.

This tag’s focus is tentative and provisional because it is not altogether clear that “consciousness in the sense of having experiences” is a coherent idea, or one that’s distinct from the other categories above. This tag is a practical tool for organizing discussion on a family of related topics, and isn’t intended as a strong statement “this is the right way of carving nature at its joints.”

Suffice to say that (as of December 8, 2020) enough LessWrongers find consciousness confusing enough, and disagree enough about what’s going on here, for it to make sense to use this page to organize discussion of those disagreements, rather than “picking a winner” immediately and running with it.

“Having experiences”: Practical implications

Beyond sheer curiosity about how the mind works, there are several sub-questions that have caused thinkers to take a special interest in the question “what is ‘having an experience’?”:

LessWrong writers have typically been strongly on board with physicalism (3.1), and on board with the idea that an emulation of me is “me” (and conscious) in every sense that matters (2.1). Beyond that, however, views vary. (By comparison, ~74% of Anglophone philosophers of mind endorsed “physicalism” as opposed to “non-physicalism” in 2009.)

“Having experiences”: Pre-LessWrong discussion

How does this “having experiences” thing work, then? Well, this wiki page’s editors haven’t agreed on an answer yet. As a cop-out, we instead provide a list of highlights from the history of other people thinking about this.

For concreteness, we’ll list particular years, authors, and texts, even though this makes some choices of what to highlight more arbitrary. Philosophy also shows up much more than psychology or neuroscience proper, not because philosophy is necessarily the right way to make progress here, but because the philosophy highlights are more “meta” and therefore choosing what to include relies less on a LessWrong consensus about consciousness itself.


“Having experiences”: Recent discussion

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18 points
22 comments1 min readLW link

Con­fused as to use­ful­ness of ‘con­scious­ness’ as a concept

KnaveOfAllTrades13 Jul 2014 11:01 UTC
47 points
230 comments7 min readLW link

The Limits of Ar­tifi­cial Con­scious­ness: A Biol­ogy-Based Cri­tique of Chalmers’ Fad­ing Qualia Argument

Štěpán Los17 Dec 2023 19:11 UTC
−6 points
9 comments17 min readLW link

Even more cu­rated con­ver­sa­tions with brilli­ant rationalists

spencerg21 Mar 2022 23:49 UTC
59 points
0 comments15 min readLW link

Is an­a­lyz­ing LLM be­hav­ior a valid means for as­sess­ing po­ten­tial con­scious­ness, as de­scribed by global workspace the­ory and higher or­der the­o­ries?

amelia11 Mar 2024 19:37 UTC
1 point
1 comment12 min readLW link

Thank you for trig­ger­ing me

Cissy12 Feb 2024 20:09 UTC
5 points
1 comment6 min readLW link

The Zom­bie Ar­gu­ment for Empiricists

JonathanErhardt6 Apr 2022 19:10 UTC
9 points
7 comments4 min readLW link

AI psy­chol­ogy should ground the the­o­ries of AI con­scious­ness and in­form hu­man-AI eth­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion design

Roman Leventov8 Jan 2023 6:37 UTC
19 points
8 comments2 min readLW link

Sta­tus conscious

avantika.mehra16 Jan 2023 17:44 UTC
2 points
0 comments5 min readLW link

Key ques­tions about ar­tifi­cial sen­tience: an opinionated guide

Robbo25 Apr 2022 12:09 UTC
51 points
31 comments18 min readLW link

Con­scious­ness: A Com­pres­sion-Based Approach

interstice16 Apr 2022 16:40 UTC
13 points
13 comments6 min readLW link

[Question] Is it de­sir­able for the first AGI to be con­scious?

Charbel-Raphaël1 May 2022 21:29 UTC
5 points
12 comments1 min readLW link

Which an­i­mals re­al­ize which types of sub­jec­tive welfare?

MichaelStJules27 Feb 2024 19:31 UTC
4 points
0 comments1 min readLW link

De­mon­strat­ing MWI by in­terfer­ing hu­man simulations

Yair Halberstadt8 May 2022 17:28 UTC
12 points
25 comments2 min readLW link

AI and the Map of Your Mind: Pat­tern Recog­ni­tion

Scott Broock20 Mar 2023 17:43 UTC
2 points
2 comments6 min readLW link

A multi-dis­ci­plinary view on AI safety research

Roman Leventov8 Feb 2023 16:50 UTC
43 points
4 comments26 min readLW link

How spe­cial are hu­man brains among an­i­mal brains?

zhukeepa1 Apr 2020 1:35 UTC
79 points
38 comments7 min readLW link

Alien par­a­site tech­ni­cal guy

PhilGoetz27 Jul 2010 16:51 UTC
66 points
55 comments3 min readLW link

Life as metaphor for ev­ery­thing else.

Charlie Steiner5 Apr 2020 7:21 UTC
29 points
11 comments4 min readLW link

Do an­droids silence echoes of the past?

Michael Li11 Feb 2024 2:35 UTC
1 point
0 comments1 min readLW link

Per­son­hood is a Reli­gious Belief

jan Sijan3 May 2023 16:16 UTC
−42 points
28 comments6 min readLW link

Un­der­stand­ing why illu­sion­ism does not deny the ex­is­tence of qualia

Mergimio H. Doefevmil4 May 2023 2:13 UTC
0 points
17 comments1 min readLW link

Is “red” for GPT-4 the same as “red” for you?

Yusuke Hayashi6 May 2023 17:55 UTC
9 points
6 comments2 min readLW link

Real­ity and re­al­ity-boxes

Jim Pivarski13 May 2023 14:14 UTC
37 points
11 comments21 min readLW link

Epiphe­nom­e­nal­ism leads to elimi­na­tivism about qualia

Clément L11 Mar 2024 19:53 UTC
3 points
0 comments7 min readLW link

Epistemic Hell

rogersbacon27 Jan 2024 17:13 UTC
69 points
20 comments14 min readLW link