Posted: Feb 13, 2017 4:07 pm
by TopCat
The reason I'm curious about "would we be able to tell?" is because I'm intrigued by the analogy in the OP.

Suppose you could get inside the brain with a 'synapse-sniffer' (like a packet sniffer on computer networks). For those that confuse this use of the word 'suppose' with the making of a supposition that something is the case, I am not suggesting that this is possible in reality.

Now, I'm not a neurochemist, but the chemistry occurring at each synapse and within each neuron is essentially the same, isn't it?

So your synapse-sniffer would see the same network traffic - in terms of packet content - everywhere in the brain. So in the same way, the details of the internet traffic contents - although important to its users - could be irrelevant to whether consciousness could arise. What's important is the routing, and the number of packets passing the nodes per second. And this is within the internet's control, albeit within its design parameters.

So the fact that the internet is - from our point of view - a mechanism for routing information that is relevant to its users, may not be relevant to whether it could be conscious, with its consciousness arising from its patterns of routing and nodal traffic volumes.

I'm not suggesting the internet is conscious. But if it were, how would we tell?