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Examples Of The Conscious Mind: Both In People And Surprisingly In Emerging AI

With the emergence of AI chatbots that act like humans, it brings up questions of what consciousness is and can AI have a conscious mind. This article explores what we know about consciousness and provides examples of the conscious mind in humans. Further, We’ll explore the question of AI having an artificial conscious mind. Spoiler Alert: AI does not have consciousness, at least yet!

“Human intelligence is a marvelous, subtle, and poorly understood phenomenon. There is no danger of duplicating it anytime soon.

Mitch Kapor

What Is Consciousness And What It Is Not?

Surprisingly, there are a wide variety of definitions for the word “conscious”. This is because consciousness is not a topic that is settled in the scientific community, the general public, and the emerging artificial intelligence (AI) fields. For the purpose of this article, I’ll use the following definition of consciousness:

“the state of being awake, aware of what is around you, and able to think:”

Cambridge Dictionary

For a more detailed discussion of what consciousness is, see my article, What Is Consciousness? Know The Fundamentals Of What This Is Actually And Is Not

What Is Consciousness? Know The Fundamentals Of What This Is Actually And Is Not.

It seems like a simple question, “What Is Consciousness?” However, this question has both baffled and fascinated philosophers for thousands of years. Indeed, even today what consciousness is is not settled in the scientific community. In fact, with the advancements of artificial intelligence (AI), this question is becoming a critical question that we are all trying to come to terms with.

Click here for the fundamentals of what consciousness is and what it is not. This will include a short description of different states and levels of conscientiousness. Also, how it is different from being self-conscious, and how it is different from your conscience.

Examples Of The Conscious – The Aware Mind, A Stream Of Consciousness, The Thinking Mind

In this section, I’ll describe and provide examples of the conscious from three perspectives. Specifically, the conscious as an aware mind, a stream of consciousness, and as a thinking mind. These examples will help you to get a better understanding of what the conscious is and what it is not.

A. The Aware Mind –Examples Of The Conscious When It Is Awake.

examples of the conscious mind

There are many examples of the conscious mind being awake and aware. For instance, when you wake up in the morning and become aware of your surroundings, you are experiencing consciousness. When you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the sound of birds chirping in the distance, or taste the sweetness of a ripe peach, you are experiencing consciousness.

Besides sensing things, your conscious mind can focus on other things. For example, you can recall a memory of high school graduation or feel the emotion of anger when someone calls you a name. So our conscience can “consume” a lot of different types of information and experiences. Specifically, these things and types of information includes:

  • Perceptions. Basically, becoming aware of things through your 5 senses.
  • Memories. In terms of consciousness, memories are experiences and recollections recalled. Previously, we had collected, processed and stored this information in our memory.
  • Fantasies. This is the conscious activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.
  • Emotions. A conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
  • Thoughts. These are the ideas or opinions produced by your brain thinking.

For more on what a conscious, aware mind is and what it consumes, see VeryWellMind’s Conscience vs. Conscious: What’s the Difference?.

B. A Stream Of Consciousness – Examples Of The Conscious As A Conversational Narrative.

Immanuel Kant, Philosopher - examples of the conscious mind
Immanuel Kant, Philosopher

“Thinking is conversation with oneself.”

Immanuel Kant

Another way to think about consciousness is as a kind of narrative or stream of consciousness. This is the idea that our thoughts and experiences are constantly flowing and changing, creating a kind of ongoing story or narrative that we experience throughout the day. This stream of consciousness can be influenced by external factors like our environment and internal factors like our emotions and desires. Here is an example of a narrative form of writing that parallels the way our consciousness works.

“As I walked down the street, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant colors of the leaves on the trees. The sun was shining bright and casting a warm glow on everything around me. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash and turned to see a car had collided with a nearby building. People were rushing over to help and I felt my heart racing as I ran towards the scene to see if there was anything I could do.”

Our consciousness works more like a stream of water. Thoughts flow through our conscious mind. It can only hold one thought at a time. It is a non-linear way that our brain works. This conscious narrative includes a lot of free association, looping repetition, and sensory observation.

For more on consciousness being a narrative or stream of consciousness, see Wikipedia’s Consciousness and Oregon State University’s What is Stream of Consciousness?.

C. The Thinking Mind – Examples Of Our Conscious Interacting With Our Attention.

“Dare to think!”

Immanuel Kant

The conscious, thinking mind is what enables us to reason, create meaning, solve problems, and make decisions. To better understand our consciousness it is key that we understand how it works with our attention. In many aspects, our consciousness controls our attention as we use our consciousness to plan our future, reflect on our past, and make sense of our present. On the other hand, our attention can divert our conscious thoughts just like a stream can take an unexpected turn when it encounters a rock or other object that changes its flow. So basically there are two types of attention that interact with our conscious mind. See below for a description of bottom-up and top-down attention.

Bottom-Up And Top-Down Attention Described

To best get an understanding of conscious, thinking mind, we need to understand how our attention works. First, below is a basic definition of attention, and second, descriptions of both types of attention.

“the act or state of applying the mind to something”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
1. Bottom-Up Attention Described.

This type of attention is the quick, unconscious attention we give things without realizing. It is attracted, broadly, by three things: emotional relevance, moving objects and unexpected events. Thus, with bottom-up attention, it will divert our attention until our consciousness can process this new stimulus, and address appropriately. See TheScienceOfPersuasion’s Do I Have Your Attention? Bottom-Up Attention and Neuromarketing for more on bottom-up attention.

2. Top-Down Attention Described.

This type of attention is more deliberate than bottom-up attention. Rather than being drawn to whatever catches our eye (bottom-up attention), top-down attention is when our mind consciously focuses our attention on something specific.

So in many cases, our conscious mind focuses our attention on things we choose for our own purposes.  For example, if you’re at a store looking to buy a black t-shirt, you’ll ignore the brighter colors and shapes around you as you search for your desired black item. See TheScienceOfPersuasion’s Now That I Have Your Attention… Case Study: Top-Down Attention and Package Testing for more on top-down attention.

Examples Of The Role Our Consciousness Plays In Decision-Making.

The conscious mind explicitly plays a role in both collective and individual decision-making. Conscious decision-making is a deliberative process consisting of gathering information and analysis, resulting in an informed decision. At the same time, we as individuals frequently make decisions that are outside our consciousness. For a detailed discussion with examples on the role consciousness plays in decision-making, see my article, Our Consciousness: Revealing Examples On The Aware Mind Making Decisions.

Our Consciousness: Revealing Examples On The Aware Mind Making Decisions.

In the world of business, companies usually follow a structured approach to making decisions. Similarly, as individuals, we also apply a deliberate decision-making process on occasion. Specifically, this is when our conscious mind takes the lead, gathering information, analyzing it, and reaching well-informed conclusions. However, we also make decisions unconsciously. Surprisingly, often these decisions turn out to be beneficial.

Click here to examine the role our consciousness has in decision-making. Also, I’ll share examples of how we rely on our conscious minds for making informed choices.

Conscious Machines: Is AI Conscious And Is It Relevant To Ask?

One of the most interesting questions surrounding consciousness is whether or not machines can be conscious. While most experts agree that current AI technology is not capable of true consciousness, there is still some debate over whether or not it could be possible in the future. Some argue that consciousness is something that arises from complex computations and patterns, which means that it could potentially be replicated in a machine. However, others argue that consciousness is a highly subjective experience that is impossible to replicate in a non-biological system.

Regardless of what is the best thing to do, the question of AI consciousness is one that will likely continue to be debated in the coming years. For a detailed discussion about AI Consciousness, see my article, With Emerging AI Consciousness Comes The Peril Of AI Rights: Think It’s Time To Worry?

With Emerging AI Consciousness Comes The Peril Of AI Rights: Think It’s Time To Worry?

The mystery of whether machines can ever be conscious is a hot topic. Although today’s AI technology isn’t conscious, some believe AI consciousness could be possible in the near future.  The question arises: Is consciousness born from complex calculations, or is it a purely human experience that cannot be replicated in machines? The debate continues.

Click here where I’ll delve into AI consciousness and its potential impact on ethics. Specifically, we will consider if AI merits special moral considerations or rights. I’ll focus the discussion on four key areas: 1) AI mimicking human behavior, 2) AI consciousness versus human consciousness, 3) Can AI fully mimic human consciousness, and 4) should AI have similar rights to humans.Undoubtedly, this quest to uncover the nature of consciousness is a fascinating one!

For more discussion on conscious machines, see DiscoverMagazine’s How Will We Know When Artificial Intelligence Is Sentient?, Schneiderwebsite’s Artificial Intelligence, Conscience, and Moral Status, and HumanFutureOfWork’s Conscious Artificial Intelligence: is it possible?.

10 Examples Of Artificial Intelligence Technology That Will Empower Your Business.

To help you cut through the hype, click here for an explanation of what AI is and what it is not. In addition, find out how recent technology advances have allowed AI to be commercialized, and concise examples of Artificial Intelligence and how it is changing our lives.

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