QUOTE(Flex @ Aug 27, 2011, 11:04 AM)
Well in my opinion, I personally think consciousness can be pretty well understood with the right definitions.
For me, "consciousness" is the ability to recognize and adapt to the environment. When a child is born, their brain already has a bunch of circuits hardwired. These enable the organism to survive, but I do not believe they enable consciousness (at least not on higher levels). This being said, only those circuits which exhibit plasticity IMO are capable of conscious processes.
We already have a descent idea of how the brain accomplishes this. Plasticity occurs when you have repeated depolarization. So basically you are faced with a stimulus, you respond, and if the response works, you will probably do it again until the behavior is learned (wired), if it doesn't work, you try something else.
You can teach a vacuum to do this on a trivial level. You just need basic functions defined. There is no mystery in regards to this, the brain is probably similar. It is not the hardware that enables the vacuum to learn, it is the software.
I think a major shortcoming of the mapping approach is that you are only looking at the hardware. Who cares how it is wired? Look at the DNA to see what sort of software the computer is running.
To find the right definitons for our understanding of what conciousness is, is quite a hard problem, that of course doesn`t only refer to the hardware, the wired connections(?), but also to a flexible, dynamic, synergetic "software" the DNA. The synapses and the DNA recognizes and adopt to the enviroment. Although it`s hardly understood how synaptic connections, circuits or collums can do that, get weaker or more plastic, but how does it the DNA?? To measure epigenetic changes in vivo, how can you create paradigmas to try this?
In my point of view the circuits of a newborn maybe don`t give the ability to be conscious about something, but it offers the opportunity to become concious, and when should we differ between these two states, where are the borders?
Alva NoŽ says we need a confirmed habit about something. A child developes in the same time a sense of a self (the Frontal Lobe trained by the feedback of the environment), when the beginning of beeing conscious is supposed.
Consequently you maybe can teach a vaccum( what do you mean exactly with vaccum in that kind of manner, an artificial network?) to associate two things but to integrate it in a personal reflection, would need not only a software.
Plasticity, maybe the ability to reconnect something learned in a greater contrast or with another function, enables a higher level of integrity about something, but is it not also very less understood? Maybe there are circuits which gain this function to exhibit(IMO, never heard), but what is with the normal process of cell dying from apoptosis, necrosis. The effectivness of a circuit is not defined by the number or strength of connections and so propably not by the level plasticity.