A small part of the universe contemplating itself

What is consciousness? What imbues you or me with the peculiar ability to experience something? To experience love? Or sadness?

Or just the perception of experiencing something at all?

Is consciousness an intrinsic component of a sufficiently complex system? Do things get more ‘conscious’ the more complicated they are, given the right substrate?

Can artificial minds think, or would they merely plod along a deterministic path of simple actions and responses until the end of time. On that note, are we any different?

To me, this is the most important question of all time, and everything else pales in comparison. It’s why I went into neuroscience in the first place. Studying galaxies, quantum mechanics, even computers—a lot of it feels pointless relative to the more fundamental question of why we experience anything in the first place.

It’s at the core root of our existence. And the answer to the question is either so far beyond our current capacity for scientific inquiry that it seems like magic, or it is magic. It blurs the line between spirituality and the scientific method. Where one ends and the other begins, we don’t know.

I think the quote “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” is never truer than when it is cited in the context of a discussion on consciousness.

Of course, I do believe we will eventually solve what it is that makes us us, but in the meantime, this is probably the closest one can get to Tolkien-esque levels of wonder and curiosity. And it’s at the core root of our existence! How lucky we must be… a small part of the universe able to contemplate itself.



Demystifying cutting-edge AI & tech. Writer for The Cusp. 🌎 nicksaraev.com

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