Heretical Science

Is Humanity a Self-Aware System? How Might We Know?

When asked, on Waking Cosmos, about the prospects of AI become self-aware, Dean Radin suggested [quote to follow], any system with a sufficient number of connections might become self-aware.

Which got me thinking… humanity is a system. It has billions of nodes and trillions of connections. Humanity meets Dean’s thought-experiment criteria for being self-aware.

But, you might think, if humanity were self-aware, then certainly we would know! Let me ask you this? Does an individual neuron know that the brain it inhabits is self-aware? Or does the neuron just do what neurons do… perceive and respond? And if we are the human analog of a neuron, isn’t that all we’re doing?

If that’s the case, it might be problematic for each individual to become aware of the collective’s self-awareness. How might we go about divining that information?

Self-aware systems act with intent. Neurons don’t fire arbitrarily, there is volition (at least sometimes) behind them. A reasonably clever neuron could look for indications of intent within the system. Synchronicities, chance encounters; it’s hard to shake the sense that there is intent behind such occurrences.

Might these be evidence of a self-aware system?