I am trying to understand what consciousness is, based on my basic knowledge of our senses, artificial intelligence (computer vision, specifically) and some philosophy. Here's my reasoning:
As far as I understand it from my Neural Network class, each eye captures the light and transmits it through electric signals to the brain. Each action potential can be seen as a binary 1, no activity as a 0.
This stimulates some of the neurons in the visual cortex, which allows our brain to interpret and understand what the eyes have captured.
In computer vision, this is where "sight" ends: the computer detects what's in the image, based on its knowledge base - its training set - and that's it.
So why does the human brain take the extra steps of combining both signals into an image - i.e translating the different waves of the electromagnetic spectrum into shapes, colors, etc -, turning it upright and displaying it to ourselves?
The same could be said, as far as I know it, about the other senses: hearing would be detecting vibrations in the air, but the brain also translate these into sounds.
Does this hint that Descartes' dualistic definition could be true, that our consciousness is separate from the brain? Or could consciousness be a sub product of the brain, a consolidation of what each one of its areas are processing, in order to better understand the world (as in Stanislas Dehaene's workspace neurons cognitive model)?
edit: I've been thinking a bit more about the subject. If there are workspace neurons responsible for consciousness, then there should be a region of the brain that is constantly active, at all times.
After a bit of - online - research, I've stumbled upon the Default mode network (DMN), which is anti-correlated to the Task-positive network (TPN). Interestingly, the DMN is active when the individual is not focused on an activity - at rest. Furthermore, there is a possible increase in connectivity between DMN's nodes during REM sleep - when we dream. On the other hand, TPM is most active during attention-demanding tasks. It has therefore been theorized that both are elements of a single default network with anti-correlated components (in an scientific paper behind a pay-wall, so I'm quoting Wikipedia).
Plus, both networks involve the fronto-parietal attention network, where it is believed the workspace neurons are located.
I couldn't help correlating the DMN and TPN to Carl Jung's theories of the Conscious and the Unconscious - which I am particularly fond about. If these wild conjectures I am forming are correct, then we could have the following (oversimplified) neural correlate of consciousness:
In this idea, exchanges between TPM and DMN occur through neurotransmitters, while exchanges between the conscious and unconscious happen using psychic energy (as in the energy from the psyche, not supernatural powers). Furthermore, the collective unconscious would then be inherited from human to human - embedded in our DNA. If true, then there would be discernible patterns in a newborn's brain...
So, going back to A.I, a conscious agent would not, theoretically, be a single agent, but instead a multi-agent collaborative system...
Now, I have very basic knowledge and lack scientific research on these topics, but I am interested in learning a LOT more. Is this theory absurd and blatantly wrong, or is it worth pursuing as a hypothesis?