Consciousness and the Internet

— Science 2.0

From Massimo Pigliucci's Rationally Speaking blog:

Here is an interesting statistic: if we multiply the (approximate) number of computers currently present on planet Earth by the (approximate) number of transistors contained in those computers we get 10^18, which is three orders of magnitude larger than the number of synapses in a typical human brain. Which naturally prompted Slate magazine’s Dan Falk to ask whether the Internet is about to “wake up,” i.e., achieve something similar to human consciousness.

He sought answers from Neuroscientist Christof Koch, science-fiction writer Robert Sawyer, philosopher Dan Dennett and cosmologist Sean Carroll. I think it’s worth commenting on what three of these four had to say about the question (I will skip Sawyer, partly because what he said to Falk was along the lines of Koch’s response, partly because I think sci-fi writers are creatively interesting, but do not have actual expertise in the matter at hand).

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