Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Artwork by Tauba Auerbach

So the suggestion and implications of consciousness simulation has been discussed more and more as the singularity approaches. Here and throughout the philosophical community, thoughts of downloading our conscious self onto a computer (or the thoughts that we are now, already, here inside some greater simulation) are sparking all kinds debates and breakthroughs.

Though maybe we can think about what it means to simulate consciousness and perhaps we can find such a process in our pragmatic lives. What does it mean when a child 'plays?' Think of objects of play (toy cars, dolls, cardboard boxes, etc.) and try to put yourself in a place where such objects could be enjoyable.

The object of play is truly the imagination. Children simulate the consciousness of of other possible characters and use toys to make the simulations feel (in the most strict sense of the word) like their conscious reality.

As children play by themselves, they are not conscious; they are in a world of their own: a imagined character's world where the possibilities expand as far as the imagination can. Video games provide a similar consciousness simulation. The fun isn't fiddling with the remote, it's letting yourself simulate the consciousness of mario or sonic. When your character dies in a video game, what do you say?

Consciousness, as Daniel Dennett and others understand, rises from the communication of language. The digital system that is our language gives us one particular consciousness, but certainly, we are made up of many different kinds of brain states other than the inadequate understanding of consciousness. Are these consciousness simulations different entities that we create in our minds? Do they have some stake in our multiverse? Are we the mental runoff of a higher intelligence's playtime?

playstation commercial by Timothy Saccenti

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