Consciousness And Distributed Cognition
The study of individual consciousness has again become academically acceptable, following nearly a century of ideologically-enforced silence on the topic, the ’dark night of behaviorism’, as it were. Late 19th Century studies, summarized by William James (1890), have been revived, reinterpreted, and reinvigorated by quite a number of researchers, ranging across a broad intellectual spectrum (e.g. Baars, 1988, 2005; Edelman, 1989; Edelman and Tononi, 2000; Crick and Koch, 2003; Wallace, 2005a; Werner, 2006).
The current frontrunner in the Darwinian competition between approaches is Baars’ Global Workspace model (Baars, 1988, 2005; Dehaene and Nacche, 2001), which we will adapt to the problem of collective consciousness and its pathologies, with a special focus on the failure of AIDS control and treatment in the United States. Unfortunately, reaching that focus requires considerable development.
Our perspective is consistent with, but slightly more general than, Baars’, concentrating particularly on the many possible mechanisms instantiating the ’general broadcast’ associated with high order cognitive process. Before presenting the Baars model, however, it seems useful to introduce some parallel ideas.
KeywordsRate Distortion Giant Component High Order Cognitive Process Modular Network Collective Consciousness
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