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The Measurement Problem of Consciousness

Browning, Heather and Veit, Walter (2021) The Measurement Problem of Consciousness. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper addresses what we consider to be the most pressing challenge for the emerging science of consciousness: the measurement problem of consciousness. That is, by what methods can we determine the presence of and properties of consciousness? Most methods are currently developed through evaluation of the presence of consciousness in humans and here we argue that there are particular problems in application of these methods to non-human cases - what we call the indicator validity problem and the extrapolation problem. The first is a problem with the application of indicators developed using the differences in conscious and unconscious processing in humans to the identification of other conscious vs. non-conscious organisms or systems. The second is a problem in extrapolating any indicators developed in humans or other organisms to artificial systems. However, while pressing ethical concerns add urgency in the attribution of consciousness and its attendant moral status to non-human animals and intelligent machines, we cannot wait for certainty and we advocate the use of a precautionary principle to avoid doing unintentional harm. We also intend that the considerations and limitations discussed in this paper can be used to further analyse and refine the methods of consciousness science with the hope that one day we may be able to solve the measurement problem of consciousness.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Browning, Heatherheather.browning@anu.edu.au0000-0003-1554-7052
Veit, Walterwrwveit@gmail.com0000-0001-7701-8995
Keywords: consciousness; measurement; artificial intelligence; animal minds; animal sentience
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Consciousness
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Mr. Walter Veit
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2021 19:59
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2021 19:59
Item ID: 18717
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Consciousness
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18717

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