Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Evolution of Consciousness Theories

Version 1 : Received: 17 November 2022 / Approved: 17 November 2022 / Online: 17 November 2022 (08:59:13 CET)

How to cite: Farhadi, A. The Evolution of Consciousness Theories. Preprints 2022, 2022110330. Farhadi, A. The Evolution of Consciousness Theories. Preprints 2022, 2022110330.


Consciousness is usually perceived as a state of being aware of one’s environment as well as self. Despite its omnipresence in our life, understanding this concept is challenging. This has given rise to several theories attempting to explain the nature of consciousness, as well as hard and soft problems of consciousness. In fact, the boundaries of consciousness defined by these theories are a topic of continued discussion, particularly in light of the recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Some of these theories consider consciousness as a simple integration of information while others purport the need for an agency in the process of integration for an entity to be considered conscious. Some theories consider consciousness as a graded entity and some equate consciousness with content of awareness. In this work, major theories of consciousness are reviewed and compared, focusing on awareness, attention, and sense of self. These findings are interpreted in relation to AI in order to ascertain what makes AI distinct from natural intelligence.


consciousness; awareness; attention; free will; self-awareness


Arts and Humanities, Philosophy

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 17 November 2022
Commenter: Grant Castillou
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: It's becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman's Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990's and 2000's. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I've encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there's lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar's lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman's roadmap to a conscious machine is at
+ Respond to this comment

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 1
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.