Generally, we think of humans as having a (relatively) advanced level of consciousness, but we don't think of simple molecules as having any sort of mental capacity at all. So where in between does the phenomenon of consciousness arise?

Update: I have chosen G.Tononi's definition: the quantity of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements


closed as off-topic by Christian Hummeluhr, AliceD, user7759, Krysta, Josh de Leeuw Mar 25 '15 at 12:17

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    $\begingroup$ Define consciousness using testable terms. (This is a bit hard.) $\endgroup$ – Krysta Feb 12 '15 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ According to me, degree of consciousness == degree of understanding. I think consciousness is a subset of unsupervised learning where the goal is to find hidden structure in unlabeled data. I think scientists should recognize that animals evolved higher level reasoning for a reason, that is to understand their environments. That's what we call 'consciousness'. And that's testable empirically. $\endgroup$ – user3503 Feb 12 '15 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Understanding what, exactly? What subset of unsupervised learning from unlabeled data (which all life forms perform)? $\endgroup$ – Krysta Feb 12 '15 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a philosophical question. $\endgroup$ – Christian Hummeluhr Mar 25 '15 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ @AidanRocke Thank you for the edit. However, the definition still does not allow a cognitive answer to your question. All organisms, even single celled ones, satisfy the given definition in some capacity or other. What you need is a measurable definition, which means you'd need to commit to a specific measure of complexity. I know it's not a good feeling to have a question closed, but you'd really have more luck on philosophy $\endgroup$ – Christian Hummeluhr Apr 7 '15 at 5:45

As strange as it may seem the answer to the question is that when two braincells or neurons work together a small conciousness is created. We have billions of neurons so that conciousness would be rather small. Of course, this depends on the definition of counciousness and neurons.

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    $\begingroup$ This is just a quasi-philosophical argument with no basis in reality. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Sherrington Feb 15 '15 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ Then please provide your answer to the question, because it must have an answer. Do you think 100000 neurons are required or more? Of course I have chosen the most generous definition of counciousness possible. $\endgroup$ – wesserbisser Feb 17 '15 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ Two neurons generally can't "work together" on their own. The smallest unit of complex processing is believed to be the cortical minicolumn, which consists of a few hundred neurons. Even then, I don't think you could say that a cortical minicolumn exhibits consciousness. $\endgroup$ – forest Apr 24 at 3:47