So, I was exploring Dan’s model, and it’s curious to see how he looked at the brain and consciousness, how that would be able to account for someone like Guillermo Arévalo. And I don’t want to butcher Dan’s model by explaining how he explains consciousness. So I want us to take a moment and just listen to how Daniel Dennett explains consciousness being a function of the brain.
[Daniel Dennett: My favorite metaphor these days is the fame in the brain, or cerebral celebrity theory. It’s, that is, that what consciousness is is the relative political influence, or fame, of structures in the brain that win out in competition against rival structures for domination of the brain’s activities in various ways. That’s putting it very programmatically, but basically it’s saying that in your head there’s a sort of turmoil going on, the pandemonium. And there’s many different contentful events vying for King of the Mountain, vying for control. And the ones that win, by default something always wins when you’re awake, and that’s what your conscious of. And it’s not that when it wins then the consciousness happens where it kindles some further thing that’s conscious, that’s just what consciousness is. It’s not as if an extra process has to happen. Winning, that’s it. And then the next one that wins, then it’s conscious. So, for instance, a robot that instantiated this sort of competition in its brain would be conscious.]
Maf Lewis: Remember, Rome and I are hired to game such things as Google algorithm, and we have done this for worldwide brands, celebrities, musicians, and so forth. We have been in some very unique situations with extraordinary budgets, observing behaviors of the web that few academics ever would see.
Rome Viharo: So right now I just request that every — that everybody listen, Maf is actually going to explain now how to game Google, how search engine optimization works.
Maf Lewis: Definitively.
Rome Viharo: Definitively. But keep in mind Daniel Dennett’s explanation of consciousness when you hear how Maf explains how search engine optimization works.
Maf Lewis: So, my favorite metaphor these days is the viral phenomenon or internet celebrity. Google SEO is the relative social influence of fame on websites on the internet that win out in competition with rival websites for domination of search return activities in various ways. On the internet there is a certain turmoil going on — the pandemonium — and many different contentful websites vying for King of the Mountain, vying for first place on Google. And the ones that win, and by definition something always wins while you search, that is what you discover on Google. Therefore, is Google conscious?
Rome Viharo: And if Google was conscious of this, what would we be to Google? Would we become, then, spirits to Google? Some of us look like gods and elves and Elvises, and all these kinds of odd-looking things that have crept up into our collective human psyche. So at first, I looked at this idea of Google consciousness as really a snarky rebuttal to Daniel Dennett’s idea. And I put the hypothesis out on social networks that catered to these sorts of parties. And I, almost as a tease or taunt, I just kind of put the question right to them. If Daniel Dennett is correct about the brain producing consciousness, then ha ha ha ha, could we not expect the first result on Google to also be consciousness. And I didn’t expect anybody to take the idea seriously, and I was immediately surprised by the response. These academics and believers in what Daniel Dennett and a few others are saying, actually agreed. They were like, “Oh! Yes! We actually can start considering Google being conscious.”
So, apparently Google consciousness, the idea, the meme Google consciousness, already began to take life because these very discussions that we were having online began to go viral on sites, such as StumbleUpon and Reddit.
Maf Lewis: So, we have no idea of what consciousness is. And we’re really not sure which model of consciousness to favor. We just thought it was fun to create a model of consciousness based on social media. By this stage I was getting intrigued in how to chat with Neil, here, at TedxCardiff. Neil also became intrigued and invited us to present Google consciousness to you, right now.
Rome Viharo: And this was actually unbeknownst to me. These were just playful discussions. It wasn’t meant to be anything serious, and Maf went ahead and got us a Ted Talk. And I was like, “Maf, are you crazy? We don’t know what we’re talking about.” So we were, of course, thrilled by giving a Ted Talk. For people in social media this is like going to the Super Bowl. But, very intimidated by this very heavy subject matter, so we had to reach out for help.