What is the virtuality of consciousness?


The "virtuality of consciousness" refers to the concept that consciousness might not be solely tied to its physical manifestation but could exist or be replicated in virtual environments. This idea stems from discussions about consciousness, virtual reality, and their implications in philosophical and technological contexts.

In one detailed discussion, Lex Fridman and Joscha Bach explore the notion that our brains create a virtual representation of our personhood, which can be thought of as a "model" predicting our next actions and behaviors. This virtual person engages within the narratives created by our brain, indicating a layer of abstraction between our consciousness and our physical reality. The conversation suggests that what we perceive and how we interact might be a sophisticated simulation crafted by cognitive mechanisms 1.

Further discussions with David Chalmers delve into whether consciousness can be fully experienced or replicated through virtual reality. They ponder if, by spending enough time within a virtual environment and utilizing advanced technologies like artificial general intelligence (AGI), it might be possible for this virtual existence to achieve a form of consciousness similar to that experienced in the "real" world. Chalmers indicates that while current virtual reality environments are limited, they pave the way towards considering the merger of consciousness with virtual experiences as they become more sophisticated 2.

These discussions highlight an ongoing exploration in philosophical and cognitive science circles about the nature and potential extendibility of consciousness beyond its biological boundaries into digital or virtual platforms.

Consciousness and Simulation

Joscha explains that our brains write a story in perceptual content, creating a virtual person that predicts what they will do next. Both the speaker and the host are virtual people that exist as puppets in Joscha's mind. The parts of the world that endure are those that give rise to stable dynamics, which are required to implement a mind like ours.

Lex Fridman Podcast

Joscha Bach: Artificial Consciousness and the Nature of Reality | Lex Fridman Podcast #101