With Dr. Ryota Kanai (Araya, Inc., Tokyo)
The notion that consciousness is a natural phenomenon suggests that consciousness is subject to a set of yet to be uncovered laws of nature. However, conditions in which consciousness occurs remain elusive. Here, I discuss existing literature in psychology and neuroscience and propose that a key function of consciousness is the ability to internally generate sensory representations of counterfactual environments. Counterfactual representations endow an agent with a variety of cognitive functions such as intention, imagination, planning, short-term memory, attention, curiosity, and creativity, all of which contribute to behavioral flexibility and efficient learning. I illustrate how counterfactual representations are linked with generative models in AI research and top-down predictions in biological brains. The information generation theory provides new perspectives on the relationship between information and consciousness.
WeWork Park South, New York, NY
Wednesday, June 28, 6 p.m.